From behind-the-scenes moments to the weekend's biggest parties
Between performances from the biggest pop stars on the planet to touching tributes to Prince and George Michael, the 59th annual Grammy Awards had no shortage of on-screen action. But there’s a lot that didn’t make it to television sets, from spirited audience reactions to celebrity run-ins on the floor to all the galas and parties that took place before the Grammys even started. Here’s a sampling of what went down in and out of the Staples Center that viewers didn’t experience at home:
1. Artists were encouraged to get political
Before the ceremony officially kicked off, longtime Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich took the stage for a bit of housekeeping. He asked celebs in attendance to keep their acceptance speeches short and to keep the program moving, but he also encouraged them to skip the usual thanking of agents and lawyers and managers and instead make a statement: “Say something important tonight. We’re expecting it.”
2. Audience cheers were the best winner predictor
Whenever presenters would read out the nominees for a particular category, the nominee that prompted the most cheers often ended up being the winner. Chance the Rapper and David Bowie were shoe-ins for their early wins in the evening judging by noise from their fans. It also wasn’t a surprise when Adele swept the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year categories — the crowd’s reaction to her name getting called made it clear she was the arena’s favorite.
3. The elaborate stage designs took a lot of work
For much of the night, the main Grammys stage was split into two performance spaces. That means while one artist sang, the other side was being put together or taken apart. The Weeknd’s elaborate stage set-up was in place before the Grammys even started, and the crew was still trying to finish taking it down during Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood’s performance. Likewise, Beyoncé’s flowery floor wreath for her “Sandcastles” performance was in place before Lukas Graham and Kelsea Ballerini hit the stage, while the chandeliers from Alicia Keys’ and Maren Morris’ set were assembled during the middle of Katy Perry’s performance.
4. Performers often had to time to kill
Whenever James Corden or a presenter was introducing a performer, there was a good chance that artist was already on stage getting into position: Members of Pentatonix goofed around and played air guitar while waiting for their segment; Ed Sheeran fiddled with his guitar while a pantsless Corden got the crowd ready for him; Katy Perry was visibly chilling in her white picket fence house set-up before “Chained to the Rhythm” got rolling; end even Adele had to wait for a moment atop the smaller round stage before opening the show with “Hello.”
5. There are constant reminders to clap
Rarely does a moment go by at the Grammys without somebody applauding for something — and often it’s because the Grammys ask everyone to do just that. Before the broadcast returned from a commercial break, a voice filled the Staples Center telling audiences members to put their hands together. Near the end of the night, when energies start to fade, you could even see James Corden waving his hands at attendees to get them hyped and clapping before going back on the air.
6. Beyoncé played it up for the cameras
Beyoncé’s medley of Lemonade tracks “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles” looked stunning on TV, from the pre-recorded visuals and screen projections to the high-concept stage set-up and the ornate details on her outfit. Unfortunately, much of that was lost in translation for those watching her inside the Staples Center — it was hard to figure out what was going on and where exactly she was during the opening segment. That doesn’t mean it was a bad performance by any means, but it was a reminder that what works on camera for the millions of viewers at home doesn’t always work as well for those watching the performance in-person.
7. Carpool Karaoke got everyone singing
Despite what James Corden told EW last month about not bringing his famous Carpool Karaoke segments to the Grammy stage, the host ended up doing exactly that. But the sing-along wasn’t just limited to stars like Jennifer Lopez and John Legend who joined him: the Staples Center was quickly filled with the sound of thousands of people belting out Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” in one of the loudest moments of the evening.
8. The Grammys drew on its archive
When the Grammys telecast cast cuts to a commercial break, viewers inside are treated to replays of old Grammys performances through the years. Highlights included Beyoncé and Prince covering “Purple Rain” in 2004; Elton John singing “Stan” with Eminem in 2001; and Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus duetting on “Fifteen” back in 2009.
9. Faith Hill had Adele’s back
Judging by audience cheers, nobody seemed to mind when Adele stopped her tribute to George Michael to start her cover of “Fastlove” over. (Neither did the celebrities tweeting about it.) But perhaps nobody was more excited about Adele getting real and getting it right than Faith Hill, who stood up from her seat and pumped her first in solidarity with Adele. And when Adele started get teary and emotional during the end of tribute, Hill was enthusiastically throwing her hands up as a sign of support.
10. There was booing on behalf of Greg Kurstin
The only boos of the night weren’t for a bad performance. As Adele was wrapping up her acceptance speech for Song of the Year, the singer stepped aside to let “Hello” producer and co-writer Greg Kurstin take the mic to give out his own thanks. Or, at least, she tried — producers cut Kurstin off as he approached the mic and started speaking. The audience started to boo, but to no avail. He had to wait until Adele’s next win to get to say his piece.
11. Beyoncé had a rare moment on the floor
Even when she’s one of the most-nominated artists at an awards show, Beyoncé can still be hard to find. At the MTV Video Music Awards last year, Bey only took to the floor of Madison Square Garden to wait by the stage before taking home an award; after collecting her trophy, she’d disappear backstage. It looked like Beyoncé was ready to do the same at the Grammys this year, until she emerged after her performance in a sparkling red outfit to sit with Jay Z and Blue Ivy (whose adorable outfit might have been the best Prince tribute of the night). During a commercial break, she got up to mingle and hug other artists, but she didn’t have to move much — a small receiving line of celebs eager to visit quickly formed around her.
12. Celebs got star-struck too
Adele gave a lot of love to Beyoncé during her acceptance speeches, but she wasn’t the only star gushing over another artist. “Lady Gaga rushed into Adele’s dressing room after her big win and was fan-girling and congratulating her,” a source told EW and People. For more on the Grammys red carpet and the afterparties, head over to People.
13. Spotify got Grammys weekend started
The actual Grammy Awards are only a small part of what goes on during Grammys weekend — the parties and galas in the days leading up to the ceremony have just as many music performances and just as much celebrity action. On Thursday night, Spotify hosted a party at the Belasco Theater celebrating the Best New Artist category with live performances by Maren Morris and The Chainsmokers, who combined a traditional DJ set with a live performance of their hit “Closer.” The electronic music duo also brought out two special guests: Wiz Khalifa and Daya, who performed the Chainsmokers’ other 2016 hit, “Don’t Let Me Down,” to a crowd that included Charlie Puth, Noah Cyrus, Big Sean, and Jhené Aiko.
14. An all-star line-up paid tribute to Tom Petty
The Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, and Elle King were just some of the artists who paid tribute to Tom Petty by covering his classic tunes during the 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year concert at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Petty himself, however, remained out of sight for most of the night — “I love you, Tom Petty, where are you? Are you out there?” Norah Jones said after her performance — until he accepted the Person of the Year award near the end of the evening. Read EW’s full recap of the event here.
15. Joni Mitchell made a rare public appearance at Clive Davis’ party
Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy gala featured performances from Mary J. Blige, Chance the Rapper, and DNCE, but the real show was all the celebrity people-watching. Courtney Love roamed the floor and chatted with Paris Jackson; legendary songwriter Diane Warren sat next to Grammy nominee “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” singer Mike Posner at one point; Jessie J hung out at her table with Joel Madden of Good Charlotte; and Kris Jenner caught up with Kathy Griffin while stopping by her table. One highlight: a rare public appearance by Joni Mitchell, who looked on as friend Judy Collins covered Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” in a special tribute. Read EW’s full recap of the event here.
16. Maren Morris had the best week ever—or at least the busiest
The country singer won her first Grammy Award on Sunday for Best Country Solo Performance and topped it off by singing a duet with Alicia Keys. But that’s only a fraction of what she was up to this week: In addition to her mini-set at Spotify Best New Artists party, she performed at both the Clive Davis party and the Nielsen Pre-Grammy Bash on Saturday night. Music industry folks in town for Grammys festivities probably couldn’t have avoided her if they tried—but with songs as good as “My Church” and “80s Mercedes,” who would ever want to?