Come for the midriffs, stay for the Sondheim.
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No skips? Not quite, but this year's Grammy Awards came pretty close. (And hey, no slaps!)

The long-delayed night finally got its due in Las Vegas with a genre-confounding array of appearances, from Lady Gaga and Lenny Kravitz to Justin Bieber and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Read on for our favorite performances of the evening, which included bedazzled jumpsuits, BTS' COVID comeback, and an "I'm not crying, you're crying" tribute for the ages.

Silk Sonic
Credit: Rich Fury/Getty Images

Surest thing: Silk Sonic

Death, taxes, the velvety steal-your-girl bops of Silk Sonic: These are the things we still know to be true in 2022. Sonic's Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak opened the ceremony with the horny, horn-y "777" — maybe a little on the nose for this year's Vegas location, lyrics-wise, with its bouncy couplets about blackjack, baccarat, and blowing dice, but the duo's solid-gold throwbacks did exactly what they came to do: Please the full swath of TikTok kids, Boomer dads, and pelvis-forward aunties in one Silky swiveling swoop. —Leah Greenblatt

Olivia Rodrigo
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Best set design: Olivia Rodrigo's beautiful suburban hell

We knew Olivia Rodrigo had an impressive set of pipes, but the Best New Artist winner's killer live rendition of her three-time-nominated, chart-topping hit "Driver's License" proved just how deftly she can translate seething heartache to the big stage. Speaking of killer, her performance's shadowy late-night-suburbia backdrop was giving us major Nightmare on Elm Street vibes. Fitting, considering how scary picking up the pieces after a breakup can be. —Jason Lamphier

J Balvin
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Best red, bright, and blue: J Balvin

She slinked onstage in vampy black leather; he came dressed for the Red Matrix. But Becerra and J Balvin brought equal Joey Tribbiani energy to "Que Mas Pues." (The title, translated roughly, means "How you doing?") Also very entertaining, if questionably breathable: The glowing rows of anonymous dancers whose spandexed faces and air-slicing arm choreo landed somewhere between Black Mirror and Blue Man Group, excellently. —LG

BTS
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Best COVID comeback: BTS

Olivia Rodrigo as a living prop for your intro: That's Grammy swag. Clad in black monochrome and apparently COVID-cleared after a touch-and-go week, the K-pop juggernaut kept stage decor to a slick neon minimum, beyond a control console and some Mission Impossible lasers. Instead they slithered, spun, and turned their blazers into air guitars. Omicron? Oh, you couldn't keep a good Jungkook down. —LG

Billie Eilish (R) and US singer-songwriter Finneas O'Connell
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The quiet storm: Billie Eilish

When you're an Eilish, they let you choose the weather. The singer — her oversized black T-shirt emblazoned with a silent tribute to late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins — and her brother-collaborator Finneas turned the title track of Happier Than Ever into a towering catharsis of crashing guitars and primal-scream therapy, sung in the key of indoor rainstorm. —LG

Volodymyr Zelenskyy
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Holding out for a hero: The tribute to Ukraine

A comedic TV star for years before he became president, Volodymyr Zelensky understands the optics of entertainment as a mass medium better than most; by drawing direct parallels between the power of music here and in Ukraine, he brought the conflict home in a poignant video appearance. Even if a busy tribute featuring John Legend and several Ukrainian artists verged on maudlin, its sincerity — and his stark, heartfelt messaging — was hard to knock. —LG

Jon Batiste
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Biggest glow-up: Jon Batiste

The man with the most nominations (11) couldn't come half-stepping, and he seemed to know it. The genial Colbert bandleader  — who won 5 Grammys by the end of the night, including Album of the Year — took center stage in a blaze of Pantone-shade glory and galactic metallics, delivering the all-caps anthem "FREEDOM" with so much easy charisma and unbridled joy, it felt like a gift from a pre-pandemic era — or maybe just a vision of a better future we haven't quite gotten to yet. —LG

H.E.R. and Lenny Kravitz
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The power medley: H.E.R., Travis Barker, Lenny Kravitz, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis

Pop quiz, Gen-X historians: Who's got a gnarlier portrait in the attic, Jared Leto or Lenny Kravitz? Lenny's astonishing agelessness in a jumpsuit could have been the headline of this group performance, but too many other fun things were happening onstage, whether it was H.E.R. strutting in like a lady James Brown or Barker beating the drums like they insulted his mother. —LG

Lil Nas X
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Lil Nas X's big luster

Three words: bedazzled crop top. You can't talk about Lil Nas X's arresting medley of "Dead Right Now," "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)," and "Industry Baby" without talking about the fits. Shimmering Jedi-style cape? Check. Gorgeously regal British military getup? Done. But sandwiched between those time- and space-traveling lewks was the real showstopper: a barely-there, rococo-style one-sleeve number paired with some starry pinstripe black trousers. Give this man the award for Best Performance by a Midriff, or I'm boycotting the Grammys. —JL

Brandi Carlile
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Brandi Carlile's Elton John homage

After two of her idols, Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt, introduced her performance, the six-time Grammy winner channeled another hero. "I'm finally morphing into Elton John, which is my dream since day one," Brandi Carlile had already joked to Laverne Cox on the red carpet before the showreferring to her custom-made, Technicolor-sequined tuxedo (which apparently weighs 40 freakin' pounds!). Yes, she served, but you could also feel the Rocket Man's hold on her as she blasted those staggering high notes from her thrice-nominated track "Right on Time" straight into the cosmos. We think it's gonna be a long, long time before we forget this moment. —JL

Ben Platt, Rachel Zegler, Cynthia Erivo, and Leslie Odom Jr.
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A send-in-the-tissues ode to Sondheim

In Memoriams are already bittersweet, but this one, set to the tune of some of the most iconic Broadway songs of the past century, took us to a new level of ugly cry. As images of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, Meat Loaf, DMX, Biz Markie, Betty Davis, Lee Scratch Perry, Ronnie Spector, Vicente Fernández, the Monkees' Michael Nesmith, and too many more graced the screen behind them, Cynthia ErivoLeslie Odom Jr., Ben Platt, and West Side Story star Rachel Zegler performed a medley of ballads from the legendary composer Stephen Sondheim that felt just the right amount of weepy. Take note, awards-show producers: This is how you do a tribute to the late great giants in the sky. —JL

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