LOS ANGELES – Taylor Swift’s official switch from country to pop with her multi-hit, best-selling “1989” album brought the singer her second Grammy Award win for album of the year.
Swift was shocked when she won the night’s top prize, beating out Kendrick Lamar, Chris Stapleton, Alabama Shakes and the Weeknd. Swift used her speech to encourage young women who feel defeated at times or discouraged by others.
“There will be people along the way that will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. You just focus on the work and don’t let those people sidetrack you,” she said.
Her speech could be directed partly to Kanye West, who recently said in a new song that he made Swift famous after he stole her microphone at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
Beyonce also seemed to make a statement when she presented the final award for the night, record of the year.
“Art is the unapologetic celebration of culture through self-expression. It can impact people in a variety of ways for different reasons at different times. Some will react. Some will respond. And some will be moved,” she said, seeming to speak to those who were critical of her Super Bowl performance of the anthem, “Formation.”
Swift, who won the album of the year Grammy for “Fearless” in 2009, walked away Monday with three awards, including best pop vocal album and best music video for “Bad Blood,” at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Alabama Shakes also won three awards, though Lamar was the night’s big winner with five.
He won best rap album for “To Pimp a Butterfly” as well as rap performance, rap song, rap/sung performance and music video. Along with his wins, Lamar also had a show-stopping moment when he took the stage.
He started as he appeared beaten and in chains. He went on to fuse rap, jazz, reggae and African sounds for a commanding performance as he rapped “The Blacker the Berry” and the Grammy-nominated “Alright” passionately. He ended with a map of Africa, and the city of Compton imprinted in it.
“Hip-hop, Ice Cube, this for hip-hop, this for Snoop Dogg … this for Nas. We will live forever, believe that,” said Lamar onstage when he won best rap album.
Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars won two awards for “Uptown Funk,” including record of the year. Ronson gave a shout-out to Prince, James Brown and George Clinton for being leaders in funk.
“This is dedicated to the fans right here,” Mars added.
Mars introduced Adele, who sang “All I Ask,” which they wrote together for her new album “25.” She was accompanied with a piano behind her, but the audio sounded off and appeared to throw off her performance.
“The piano mics fell onto the piano strings, that’s what the guitar sound was. It made it sound out of tune,” Adele tweeted. “(Expletive) happens.”
A spokesperson for CBS, where the Grammys aired, said “there was a brief five- to eight-second technical issue that was out of our control.”
Justin Bieber started “Love Yourself” on guitar in good form, but ended with a vocal struggle. Little Big Town and Demi Lovato, however, had shining moments during their performances, hitting impressive and smooth high notes.
But Bieber also had a shining moment: He won his first Grammy on Monday night for Best Dance Recording for “Where Are U Now” with Skrillex and Diplo.
The Grammys also marked first-time wins for Alabama Shakes, the Weeknd, Stapleton, Pitbull and Ed Sheeran, who won song of the year for “Thinking Out Loud.”
“We wrote it on a couch in my house,” he said of his hit song he wrote with Amy Wadge, which also won him best pop solo performance.
Alabama Shakes’ three wins included best alternative music album for “Sound & Color,” as well as rock song and rock performance for “Don’t Wanna Fight,” which they performed.
“My heart is beating a mile a minute,” said frontwoman Brittany Howard. “I promise we’re going to keep going.”
The Weeknd, who won two awards, performed in a cube that was brightly lit for “Can’t Feel My Face” until he switched to a piano-tinged version of his upbeat hit “In the Night.” Stapleton, who has written for dozens of country acts, won best country album for “Traveller.”
“This is something you never ever dream of so I’m super grateful for it,” he said.
Stapleton walked in with four nominations, including album of the year, but lost best country song to “Girl Crush.”
The night featured touching tributes: Lady Gaga was in David Bowie-inspired makeup and gear as she ran through 10 of the icon’s hits, including “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Fame,” “Let’s Dance” and “Heroes.”
B.B. King was remembered with a rousing performance by Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark. Jr and Bonnie Raitt — all on guitar and vocals — with “The Thrill Is Gone.”
The Hollywood Vampires, a supergroup of Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry, performed in their first televised performance and honored Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. Stevie Wonder, joined with Grammy-winning a capella group Pentatonix, sang “That’s the Way of the World” in honor of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White, while members of the Eagles and Jackson Browne sang “Take It Easy” for Glenn Frey at the Staples Center.
Rihanna, who was supposed to perform near the top of the show, couldn’t due to doctor’s orders.
“Rihanna’s doctor put her on vocal rest for 48 hours because she was at risk of hemorrhaging her vocal chords,” a statement from her representative read.
Recording Academy CEO said Lauryn Hill, who was supposed to surprise the audience by performing with the Weeknd, said Hill showed up for dress rehearsal but didn’t make it in time for the show. The academy never officially announced Hill was performing.
Collaborative performances were one of the themes of the Grammys: Carrie Underwood sang with Sam Hunt; Ellie Goulding and Andra Day performed; and while Lovato, Legend, Luke Bryan and Tyrese sang with Lionel Richie to honor the icon.
Meghan Trainor, who was nominated for two Grammys last year for “All About That Bass,” won best new artist.
“Thank you to the Grammys, I love you so much,” said a teary-eyed Trainor, who also thanked her parents and Epic Records CEO L.A. Reid.
Other winners included D’Angelo, Kirk Franklin, Jason Isbell and Tony Bennett.