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U2 join Kendrick Lamar to open politically-charged Grammys
The night belonged to Bruno Mars.

JJ Allure / YouTube

U2 JOINED RAPPER Kendrick Lamar to last night open a politically-charged Grammy Awards.

Lamar opened the televised gala with a frenetic show, spitting out his verses from XXX as he was joined by U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge amid a sea of kung fu dancers who later fell to the ground as if struck by bullets.

Comedian Dave Chappelle then took to the stage to remind the crowd:

“The only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America, is being an honest black man in America.”

U2 also performed new song Get Of Your Own Way in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, following a recitation of the monument’s pro-immigration inscription.

U2VEVO / YouTube

Music’s biggest night, however, belonged to Bruno Mars who won six awards.

The industry seized on its annual gala to rally on behalf of the growing women’s movement against sexual harassment, with pop singer Kesha delivering a fierce performance about her own abuse story.

But for the awards, the feel-good Mars carried the night.

He won the top prize, Album of the Year, for “24K Magic” as well as Record of the Year, which recognizes top tune, for the title track — a tale of good times with beautiful women set to 1980s-style synths and rhythms.

The Recording Academy, the body of 13,000 music professionals, also gave him Song of the Year, which awards songwriting, for another track on the album — “That’s What I Like,” an old-school ode to making love in high style.

60th Annual Grammy Awards - Press Room Charles Sykes Charles Sykes

The 32-year-old singer, sporting a bright smile and sunglasses, recalled how he first performed as a child for tourists in his native Hawaii.

“I remember seeing it firsthand — people dancing that had never met each other from two sides of the globe, dancing with each other, toasting with each other, celebrating together,” he said.

“All I wanted to do with this album was that,” he told thousands of industry players at Madison Square Garden in New York, where the Grammys temporarily shifted after 15 years in Los Angeles.

Anti-climax for rap

1/28/2018 - New York: 60th Annual Grammy Awards - Show SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Mars won all of the awards for which he was in the running on what was expected to be a major night for hip-hop, which for the first time dominated nominations for the major categories.

But the industry either preferred Mars, or the vote for rappers split.

Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, who had led with eight nominations, ended the night empty-handed.

Lamar for the second time swept all rap categories but failed to win the general prizes.

His five awards included Best Rap Album for DAMN., a turn to a classic hip-hop sound.

Rallying for women

NY: 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Red Carpet SIPA USA / PA Images Singer Kesha SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Amid rising attention to gender discrimination in the entertainment industry following revelations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, top stars — notably Lady Gaga — walked the red carpet wearing white roses in solidarity with abuse victims and in an appeal for equality.

Kesha — whose pleas to break a deal with her producer, whom she accused of rape, initially fell on deaf ears in the industry — brought some audience members to tears with her deeply personal song “Praying.”

Her face intense and her voice ferocious, Kesha sang the autobiographical lyrics: “After everything you’ve done / I can thank you for how strong I have become.”

A clutch of female vocalists including Cyndi Lauper offered her both symbolic and literal support, with Kesha embracing the group in a bear-hug as she finished.

Singer Janelle Monae, introducing Kesha, said that the music industry needed to address its own abuse problems.

“To those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s Up!” Monae said, using a slogan for the movement launched on New Year’s Day by hundreds of prominent women in the entertainment industry.

Rapper Logic added his own voice later on stage, telling women: “Stand tall and crush all predators under the weight of your heart that is full of the love they will never take away from you.”

The Grammys also featured a tribute to music fans killed in attacks in Las Vegas and Manchester last year with country stars Eric Church, Maren Morris and Brothers Osbourne together performing Eric Clapton’s mournful “Tears in Heaven.”

Trump skewered

60th Annual Grammy Awards - Show Matt Sayles Matt Sayles

The Grammys didn’t hold back from more light-hearted political commentary.

Noting President Donald Trump’s reported disdain for reading — and the Grammy award for spoken word — host James Corden introduced a video of famous names reciting from “Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House,” the sensational account of the tycoon-turned-president’s first year in office.

Musicians known for their criticism of Trump started reading from the book including John Legend, Cher and — smoking from his trademark joint — Snoop Dogg.

The video ends with Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in the bitter 2016 election.

“The Grammy’s in the bag,” quips Clinton, whose confidence during her race against Trump proved ill-advised.

- © AFP, 2018

Read: ‘A massacre’: Ambulance bomb kills at least 90 people and wounds 151 in Kabul

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