The Weeknd and Justin Bieber both marked milestone nights at the 58th Grammy Awards, where they picked up their first career Grammy trophies, nailed their first career Grammy performances, and mutually celebrated years-in-the-making career reinventions.
For Abel Tesfaye, the double-bauble haul — for best urban contemporary album and best R&B performance — provided yet another signpost on the once mystery-shrouded margin-walker’s journey to the top of pop. And for Bieber, the Grammy win for and performance of his melancholy Skrillex/Diplo gem “Where Are U Now” further proved the success of his hard-fought quest for redemption.
“Believers.. We did it! I love you,” Bieber tweeted after the win.
Since all three trophies were handed out during the nontelevised portion of the Grammys, both stars could communicate only through their performances.
Once an unseasoned performer, a tuxedoed Tesfaye flaunted a nimble knack for footwork while belting out a strutting “Can’t Feel My Face” inside a crimson-hued box. He then ambled over to another stage, where frequent Canadian collaborator Stephan Moccio tickled the piano keys, and trilled a stripped-down “In the Night” with sufficient power to bring Adele out of her seat.
Bieber, meanwhile, arrived to the stage less formally attired — in a leopard-print shirt jacket and backwards mesh-back cap — to strum an acoustic and perform his newest smash “Love Yourself,” before joining Skrillex and Diplo for a jarringly rocked-out take on “Where Are U Now.” He certainly didn’t lack for energy, spinning and skipping around the stage, windmilling his arms wildly (except when he needed to pull his pants back up).
It was perhaps a less-inspiring evening for some of the other Canadians in contention.
One can only imagine the artful way Drake might mourn striking out on his five nominations — all of which were in categories won by the unstoppable Kendrick Lamar — if in fact the 29-year-old directs any energy at all toward the Grammys. Once again, the one-time best rap album winner skipped the show entirely.
“I am not performing at the Grammy Awards . . . but hey, it’s the thought that counts,” he tweeted recently, hinting at his long-standing ambivalence toward the ceremony.
Well, other Canadians were perhaps more tickled by the opportunity to claim a Grammy. Here’s how they did:
• Joni Mitchell won the Grammy for best album notes for the text accompanying her sprawling four-disc box set Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced. It’s her eighth career Grammy, arriving 47 years after her first (when she won best folk performance for Clouds).
• Best historical album was claimed by The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, which featured the music of Bob Dylan and Toronto’s the Band, along with contributions from two other locals: co-producer Jan Haust and co-engineer Peter Moore. Another Canadian, historian Kevin Howes from Richmond Hill, was nominated in the same category.
• Flutist Ron Korb was nominated for best new age album for his Eastern-inspired Asia Beauty, but the award went to Paul Avgerinos’s Grace. And Montreal electronic composer CFCF (otherwise known as Michael Silver) was nominated for best remixed recording, non-classical, but ceded the award to Dave Audé’s “Uptown Funk” remix.