Billie Eilish Sweeps 62nd Grammy Awards In a night when Billie Eilish, the youngest artist to win Album and Record of the year, might have otherwise been the whole story, the Recording Academy could not put its recent scandals behind it.
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Billie Eilish Sweeps 62nd Grammy Awards

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Billie Eilish Sweeps 62nd Grammy Awards

Billie Eilish Sweeps 62nd Grammy Awards

Billie Eilish Sweeps 62nd Grammy Awards

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/799925286/799925287" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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In a night when Billie Eilish, the youngest artist to win Album and Record of the year, might have otherwise been the whole story, the Recording Academy could not put its recent scandals behind it.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Grammys were last night, and Billie Eilish was the big winner. She is the youngest artist to ever sweep all four of the top prizes. But as NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, there was a lot happening between the lines during last night's ceremony.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Song of the year, album of the year, record of the year, best new artist - Billie Eilish won them all.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BAD GUY")

BILLIE EILISH: (Singing) I'm the bad guy, duh.

DEL BARCO: The 18-year-old from Los Angeles seemed stunned as she picked up award after award.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EILISH: Thank you. Ay-ay-ay (ph). Two.

DEL BARCO: Eilish dedicated her Grammys to her fans. Her older brother and producer, Finneas, dedicated them to kids who make music in their bedrooms, like he and his sister do.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FINNEAS O'CONNELL: We didn't write a speech for this because we didn't make this album to win a Grammy. We didn't think it would win anything ever. We wrote an album about depression and suicidal thoughts and climate change and being the bad guy - whatever that means. And we stand up here confused and grateful.

DEL BARCO: Last night's ceremony came just hours after former NBA star Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash along with one of his daughters and seven others. Singer Lizzo opened the Grammys celebration this way.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LIZZO: Tonight is for Kobe.

(CHEERING)

LIZZO: (Singing) I cry 'cause I love you.

DEL BARCO: Lizzo went on to win the award for Best Pop Solo Performance.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LIZZO: This whole week - you know, I be lost in my problems, stressed out. And then in an instant, all of that can go away. And your priorities really shift. And today, all of my little problems that I thought were big as the world were gone. And I realized that there's people hurting right now. And...

DEL BARCO: Host Alicia Keys came onstage at the Staples Center, saying she would never have imagined the Grammys would begin this way.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALICIA KEYS: And we're literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.

(APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: Bryant had played for the LA Lakers his entire 20-year career at the Staples Center, where the Grammys were held. During one performance, a photo of Kobe Bryant was projected next to a photo of another LA legend, the late rapper Nipsey Hussle. He was killed in April.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DJ KHALED: Rest in peace, Nipsey Hussle. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant, Gianna.

DEL BARCO: DJ Khaled and John Legend were part of a tribute to Nipsey Hussle. They brought Hussle's family onstage when they won the Grammy for best rap song performance. Here's John Legend.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN LEGEND: We've seen so much tragedy today and last year. And so much has gone on, but let's love each other. Let's love our families. Let's hold each other tight. God bless.

(APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: This year's Grammys came in the wake of a controversy that rocked the Recording Academy, which hands out awards. Just days ago, the suspended chief of the academy, Deborah Dugan, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging gender bias and sexual harassment during her brief tenure. She also called into question the honesty of the Grammy nomination process.

Hours before the ceremony, interim CEO and Board Chair Harvey Mason Jr. sent a memo pledging changes. No one addressed the controversy directly from the stage, but host Alicia Keys alluded to it as she talked to the audience from her piano.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KEYS: It's time for newness. And we refuse the negative energy. We refuse the old systems...

(APPLAUSE)

KEYS: ...Feel me on that. We want to be respected and safe in our diversity. We want to be shifting to realness and inclusivity.

DEL BARCO: There's never been a Grammy Awards quite like this one.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BAD GUY")

EILISH: Duh.

DEL BARCO: Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

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