Kendrick Lamar, who is likely to be the big victor tonight, and Bruno Mars also picked up early Grammy awards on Sunday in ceremonies ahead of the three-hour televised show celebrating the best in music.
"Other contenders for Album of the Year were "'Awaken, My Love!'", the psychedelic, R&B-infused album by Childish Gambino, the rap alter ego of actor and comedian Donald Glover, and "Melodrama" by 21-year-old New Zealand pop prodigy Lorde, the only woman in the category. The surprise was, however, that Justin Bieber, who helped raise the song's popularity by lending his vocals in the remix, did not perform with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.
The late Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher and veteran rockers The Rolling Stones are among the first award winners at the Grammy Awards, which are now taking place in NY.
In a year when the nominees were more eclectic and adventurous, the safe bets prevailed at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.
Awards were also posthumously given to Leonard Cohen, for best rock performance, and Carrie Fisher, for best spoken word album with her reading of her memoir The Princess Diarist.
"Finesse" is one of the most enjoyable songs to hit the airwaves in months, and when Bruno and Cardi took the stage together at MSG, it was basically the visual equivalent of sucking down three Pixy Stix and hopping into a plastic ball pit - sweaty, colorful and insane fun.
Also nominated for the trophy were 6LACK ("PRBLMS"), Goldlink ("Crew" featuring Brent Faiyaz and Shy Glizzy), JAY-Z ("Family Feud" featuring Beyoncé) and Kung Fu Kenny's own Top Dawg Entertainment labelmate, SZA ("Love Galore" featuring Travis Scott).
The National won best alternative album for Sleep Well Beast.
Little Big Town, who sang their Taylor Swift-penned No. 1 hit "Better Man", also won best country duo/group performance with the song. But Gaffigan wins for the best self-flagellating zinger: "I don't know who I am either". "We come in peace, but we mean business".
Lamar wore a white rose in a sign of solidarity with the anti-sexual harassment movement to accept the first televised award of the night which he said "really belongs to her" in reference to Rihanna.
"Bruno Mars imma let you finish, but Gambino Kendrick and Jay Z made some of the best albums IN HISTORY #GRAMMYs", one person tweeted. Critics felt the Academy failed to recognize the creative and artistic elements of an R&B-based album, in the same ways they have passed over albums by Kanye West, Eminem and Mariah Carey over the years for projects by rock, country and jazz artists. Maren Morris, Eric Church and Brothers Osborne, who were performers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas where a gunman opened fire on fans, killing 58 and injuring hundreds more, will honor victims killed at live music events this past year onstage.
Mars won Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best R&B Album for "24K Magic", plus Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Performance for "That's What I Like".
The show, hosted by James Corden, also featured some comedy.
There were numerous nods to the East Coast location of New York City at this year's ceremony.