On a Grammys night that pitted Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, and Jay-Z against each other in several award categories, the biggest battle of the night was somehow between Sting and Bono.
Yes, Sting and Bono—neither of whom were up for any Grammy nominations, mind you, but were instead vying for something of even greater importance to artists of an advanced age: relevance.
Bono and U2 took the first swing of the night as they briefly appeared during Kendrick’s stellar opening performance to sing the hook of “XXX.” They were on screen for only a matter of seconds before shuffling off stage. Little did we know this was only the beginning.
A bit later into the show, Sting showed up for the first of not one, not two, but three appearances on the night. The first came as confirmation of the shocking news last week that Sting has an album in the works with none other than “It Wasn’t Me” singer Shaggy. Yes, the 66-year-old British singer is joining forces with Mr. Boombastic for a joint album entitled 44/876, and you better believe that it’s coming out on 4/20. The unexpected duo joined James Corden for a definitely not-staged special New York edition of “(Subway) Carpool Karaoke.”
Not content with that short cameo, the two later took the Grammy stage together to perform a medley of Sting’s “Englishman in New York” and a cut off their upcoming album, “Don’t Make Me Wait.” And while the latter is actually pretty catchy, one might understandably wonder how these guys were in the spotlight at the 2018 Grammys while actual nominees (ahem, Lorde) were not:
Is it Sting's birthday? Is he dying? What is happening? #GRAMMYs— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) January 29, 2018
Don’t forget about Bono and U2, though—the Grammys certainly didn’t. The Irishmen performed a politically charged version of “Get Out of Your Own Way,” featuring Bono yelling about immigration through a star-spangled megaphone … while floating on a barge in front of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Just a little on the nose.
As if we hadn’t seen them enough, Sting and U2 were provided the opportunity to present the two most prestigious awards: Sting gave out Song of the Year, and Bono and the Edge closed the night by doling out Album of the Year—both of which were won by Bruno Mars. In a year that featured a particularly young pool of Grammy nominees, it seemed especially odd that Sting and U2 kept on sneaking their way back on my TV screen like Songs of Innocence into my iTunes library. The Grammy Awards may finally be recognizing hip-hop and a new wave of young, talented artists, but the show is still clearly dwelling on stars of the past.
So, which old guy won the night? It’s a tie between Sting and Bono, but it most definitely wasn’t Jay-Z.