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Timothy Finn on the Grammys: Kendrick Lamar wins best rap album, but Taylor Swift wins album of the year

Kendrick Lamar performs at the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Kendrick Lamar performs at the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP) Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

The latest on the 58th annual Grammy Awards being presented Monday in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre:

▪ 10:29 p.m.: With help from Travis Barker, Joe Perry and Robin Thicke, Pitbull brings the show to a garish close, awash in dancers, heavy beats and confetti.

▪ 10:24 p.m.: Beyonce presents the record of the year. As he shouts out something inaudible from his seat, Bruno Mars hears his name called for the deserving “Uptown Funk.” At least it wasn’t that Weeknd song.

▪ 10:20 p.m.: Members of Earth Wind & Fire pay respects to the late Maurice White, then present the winner of album of the year. The Grammys flinched: Swift wins. She pats herself on the back for being the first woman to win album of the year twice, and advises young girls to ignore the haters and take pride and credit for their successes.

▪ 10:11 p.m.: The sad, sobering annual roll call of the deceased.

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▪ 10:07 p.m.: Common and Neil Portnow, president of the recording academy, praise the power of music and introduce a young piano wizard, whose jazz medley impresses Herbie Hancock and others in the audience. Then Portnow and Common talk about the cost of making music and its real value in the free market (read: streaming is bad). Common thanks those who buy music and tickets.

▪ 9:54 p.m.: Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters pays tribute to the late Lemmy Kilmister and Phil Taylor of Motorhead, then introduces the Hollywood Vampires featuring Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp, who pretty much just hangs back, issues some rock-star poses and stock guitar riffs. Lots of flashpots and spotlights and volcanic guitars and percussion. They finish with “Ace of Spades,” one of Motorhead’s most beloved songs. And: Crowd goes nutso.

▪ 9:50 p.m.: LL introduces Brittany Howard and Alabama Shakes, who show why they are up for album of the year. They perform their Grammy winning “Don’t Wanna Fight,” and Howard, while playing rhythm guitar, delivers one of the more powerful vocal performances of the night. A band in it for the long run.

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▪ 9:35 p.m.: Bonnie Raitt pays tribute to Ruth Brown, a lifetime achievement recipient, then joins Gary Clark Jr. and Chris Stapleton in a tribute to B.B. King. They give “The Thrill is Gone” all the respect and sincerity it deserves.

▪ 9:24 p.m.: Lady Gaga with Nile Rodgers and large band pay tribute to David Bowie. The medley includes “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Suffragette City,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Fashion” and “Fame.” It’s well-done but a little too high-speed and without much fidelity to the original versions, especially the closer, “Heroes.” Much crowd love, though.

▪ 9:17 p.m.: Sam Smith (remember him?) arrives to present the best new artist award. Courtney Barnett is a nominee with no chance to win, mostly because she hasn’t been around long enough. Meghan Trainor, who self-released her first album in 2009, wins because silly pop songs.

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▪ 9:11 p.m.: Justin Bieber performs with two DJs, Skrillex and Diplo, who go by the name Jack Ü. Bieber strums a guitar and sings “Love Yourself” solo, then unceremoniously throws it on the stage and joins a band, string section and his DJ buds for “Where Are Ü Now,” a generic electro-rock anthem rife with unnecessary percussion.

▪ 9:10 p.m.: The Royals commercial airs and hearts flutter.

▪ 8:59 p.m.: Bruno Mars introduces Adele, who sings “All I Ask,” a power ballad he wrote. She exhibited plenty of power but not much nuance. Meh.

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▪ 8:54 p.m.: Miguel sings Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out of My Life” because you can’t have too many tributes. He commemorates Jackson’s album “Off the Wall,” plugs a Spike Lee documentary on the album and announces the winner of the best rock performance: Alabama Shakes for “Don’t Wanna Fight.” They deserved it.

▪ 8:48 p.m.: “Hamilton” wins best musical theater album. No kidding.

▪ 8:39 p.m.: Don Cheadle plugs his new movie, in which he portrays Miles Davis, then introduces Kendrick Lamar, who has already won five Grammys. It’s set in a prison cell block, then at a bonfire. He performs “The Blacker the Berry” and segues into “Alright,” provoking the first censorship moment. It’s a wild, dynamic performance.

▪ 8:28 p.m.: As promised, Stephen Colbert presents cast members of “Hamilton,” who sing the show’s opening number at the Richard Rodgers Theater. It’s a dynamic hip-hop musical set at the turn of the 19th century, and it’s a gust of fresh air. Good move, Grammys.

▪ 8:23 p.m.: Best new artist nominees Tori Kelly and James Bay play dueling guitars and perform “Let It Go” and “Hollow,” two folk/soul ballads. Good enough.

▪ 8:13 p.m.: The post-mortems continue. Jackson Browne and the Eagles perform “Take It Easy” in memory of Glenn Frey. Don Henley looks as stoic as a court bailiff, and Browne, 67, sounds as youthful as ever — as youthful as his hair looks.

▪ 8:07 p.m.: Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix pay tribute to the late Maurice White of Earth Wind & Fire. Their a cappella version of “The Way of the World” is the highlight of the night so far. Then they present song of the year. Stevie delivers a message about people with disabilities (the winner’s name inside the envelope was printed in braille), then presents the award to scruffy Brit Ed Sheeran for “Thinking Out Loud,” a breezy, soulful pop tune. Taylor Swift looks like she might hyperventilate.

▪ 8:03 p.m.: Little Big Town sings “Girl Crush,” a country ballad that became famous and infamous for the soft-core homo-erotic theme that it isn’t. (She wants to kiss the girl who’s kissing her ex.)

▪ 8:02 p.m.: Ryan Seacrest arrives (finally). He recognizes the winner of the music educator award, and if you’ve ever had a child learn an instrument in middle school, you know what kind of grace and patience those people exhibit.

▪ 7:46 p.m.: Late-night host James Corden, a Brit without a jot of funk or soul in his bones, joins LL to introduce the tribute to Lionel Richie. John Legend gives “Easy” the perfect treatment. Demi Lovato turns “Hello” into an overdramatic anthem. Bro country king Luke Bryan caused some damage to “Penny Lover,” a song outside his wheelhouse. Then Meghan Trainor had the decency to sing “You Are the Sun, You Are the Rain” the way it was recorded. Tyrese boldly took on “Brickhouse,” one of the best disco-funk anthems ever. Richie emerged from the audience to make things right, leading his uptstarts through “All Night Long (All NIght)” and seemingly wondering, like the rest of us, why the hell Luke Bryan was on stage.

▪ 7:39 p.m.: Gary Sinise and Cam present best country album. If there’s a favorite it’s Chris Stapleton. He wins, but here’s to the Grammys for the field, which included Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe. (And Mr. Abercrombie didn’t win.)

▪ 7:34 p.m.: Ellie Goulding and Andra Day show off their impressive vocal chops during “Love Me Like You Do.” No complaints there.

▪ 7:15 p.m.: Ariana Grande arrives in a gown with a train long enough to carry a bobsled team. She introduces the Weeknd, who is, inexplicably, up for seven Grammys. He sings “In the Night,” a dull, midtempo balld that received some cello accompaniment. His hair looks like a black cat attacking his skull. Nice voice, though.

▪ 7:13 p.m.: Kansas City Chiefs fans mute their TVs when Denver Bronco and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller introduces Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt, who shows up in his Sunday-go-to-meeting white T-shirt and black jeans to perform their hits “Take Your Time” and “Heartbeat.” They both have strong voices, and the performance is appropriately melodramatic, but he looks like he’s waiting on her at Abercrombie & Fitch.

▪ 7:11 p.m.: Lamar wins the first of what should be many awards. He thanks the man above, those who inspired and helped him and, as he music cues him to get off the stage, hip-hop in general.

▪ 7:10 p.m.: Ice Cube and his son O’Shea Jackson present Best Rap Album. If it isn’t Kendrick Lamar for “To Pimp A Butterfly,” this night has taken a sudden and dramatic turn.

▪ 7:08 p.m.: Stephen Colbert plugs his upcoming introduction of a performance by the cast of the Broadway show “Hamilton.” It’s not that funny.

▪ 7:05 p.m.: Host LL Cool J arrives and delivers a sermon on the spirituality of music and swears all the vocal performances are live, not lip-synched. He reminisces about previous Grammy performances.

▪ 7 p.m.: Taylor Swift is knee deep in fog, emerging from the woods. Fame and wealth have not improved her dancing. Adele appeared to be impressed.

▪ 6:45 p.m.: Kansas City is already a winner. Before the network cameras started running, the Kansas City Chorale, along with the Phoenix Chorale, had won the Grammy for the Best Chorale Performance for the recording of Rachmaninoff’s “All Night Vigil.” It’s the Kansas City Chorale’s ninth Grammy.

And “Joyce and Tony — Live From Wigmore Hall," featuring mezzo-soprano and Prairie Village native Joyce DiDonato, won the Grammy for best classical vocal solo album.

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