Music

Billie Eilish dominates Grammys as music world mourns Kobe Bryant

Teen is first woman to sweep big four awards: Album, Record and Song of the Year plus Best New Artist

LOS ANGELES: US pop star Billie Eilish cleaned up at the Grammys on Sunday, winning five awards, as the music world mourned the loss of Los Angeles' hometown basketball hero Kobe Bryant with a series of emotional tributes.

Eilish, 18, swept the "big four" prizes - Album of the Year for her debut studio album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Song of the Year and Record of the Year for her hit single Bad Guy, and Best New Artist - in an industry acknowledgement of her wave-making role as the new reference point for pop's future.

She is only the second person, and the youngest, to win all four top Grammys on the same night. The first artist to do this was Christopher Cross 39 years ago.

Eilish recorded the album with her brother Finneas O'Connell, who also won a Grammy for non-classical producer of the year, in the bedroom of their Los Angeles home, and both seemed taken aback by their Grammy haul.

O'Connell said as the pair accepted their awards: "We didn't make this album to win a Grammy. We wrote about depression and suicidal thoughts and environmental change. We stand up here confused and grateful."

Asked backstage what she would do next, Eilish said: "Being in this moment is all I'm thinking about... I'm gonna do whatever I feel."

One of her main competitors, Lizzo, kicked off the glitzy gala at the Staples Centre by dedicating it to Bryant, in the very arena where the NBA icon made history with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Tonight is for Kobe," shouted the 31-year-old twerking flautist, hours after his death in a helicopter crash was confirmed. His 13-year-old daughter and seven others also died in the incident.

Lizzo then launched into an eye-popping medley performance of her top hits that set the tone for the night.

She handed over to host Alicia Keys, who offered another love letter to Bryant's memory: "We're all feeling crazy sadness right now. Earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero."

"And we're literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built," said Keys, before launching into a soulful rendition of It's So Hard To Say Goodbye (To Yesterday) with the group Boyz II Men.

"He would want us to keep the vibrations high," Keys later said, before singing a humorous yet soothing opening monologue at the piano.

A mushrooming crowd of people, many of them in tears, gathered near the arena to mourn the 41-year-old Bryant. Flags were flying at half-mast.

UNDERSTATED PERFORMANCE

But the show went on, with an understated performance from Eilish who thanked her fans - and fellow nominee Ariana Grande - in accepting her haul of trophies.

"Mainly I think the fans deserve everything," she said. "I feel like they have not been talked about enough tonight because they're the only reason any of us are here at all. So thanks to the fans."

And she gave a shout-out to Grande, who despite five nominations went home empty-handed.

"Can I just say that, I think Ariana deserves this," Eilish said in accepting the Album of the Year award, adding that Grande's Thank U, Next, had been a lifesaver for her.

Lil Nas X took home two Grammys for his pop culture phenomenon Old Town Road, while Lizzo - the night's favourite - left with three trophies.

"This is really... sick," the 31-year-old star said through tears, before alluding to Bryant's death.

"This whole week I'd be lost in my problems, stressed out - and then in an instant all of that can go away and your priorities really shift," she said.

"Let's continue to reach out, hold each other down and lift each other up."

The veterans were not shut out - Lady Gaga won two Grammys for her soundtrack for the hit film A Star Is Born, and one went to Beyonce, who nabbed the prize for best music film for Homecoming.

A message of love pervaded the night, particularly in light of Bryant's death and a moving all-star tribute to late slain rapper Nipsey Hussle. - AFP, REUTERS

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