Inside Spotify’s Pre-Grammys Party

Ansel Elgort got on the dance floor, Jared Leto chatted with Spotify‘s C.E.O., and Logic showed up for a last-minute surprise.

by Nora Maloney

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New York is playing host to the Grammys for the first time in 15 years, and the city is celebrating the way it does best—a lot of parties. On Thursday night, Spotify hosted a pre-Grammy soiree at Skylight Clarkson Sq on Manhattan’s lower West Side, where the fashion world will descend in just a few weeks for their fall/winter shows and after-parties of similarly epic proportions. Spotify’s party drew in its own eclectic selection of actors, influencers, models, and, of course, musicians, at an event honoring this year’s Grammy nominees for best new artist—Alessia Cara, SZA, Khalid, Julia Michaels, and Lil Uzi Vert.

From the very start of the evening, the vast event space, which had white balloons climbing the corners and (at least) five bars lined with free-flowing liquor, was doused in the flashing red and white lights of the D.J. set. Sting, Shaggy, DeJ Loaf, and Justine Skye were among the partygoers who filed in early, as the D.J. played Drake and Rihanna in preparation for the headliners. It was only a short while before everyone on the ground floor, Ansel Elgort and girlfriend Violetta Komyshan among them, was dancing.

Cara, who is also nominated for song of the year, best music video, and best pop duo/group performance, was first to perform, wearing a whole new category of cargo pant and a white tee, knotted at the back, with cascading red fabric draped from the right side. She is the expected winner of Sunday night’s best-new-artist award, though she’s running neck and neck with SZA. “This next song is for any girl, or just anybody actually, that feels like sometimes they’re not good enough . . .” Cara said when she took the stage. “I think it’s important that we value ourselves a little bit more,” she finished, as she fell into her second song of the evening, “Scars to Your Beautiful.”

Jared Leto, with a beard obstructing nearly every recognizable facial feature, mingled to the far side of the party with Spotify co-founder and C.E.O., Daniel Ek,as the breakout hip-hop artist Lil Uzi Vert took to the stage. He concluded his set, which included both “XO TOUR LIF3” and an Ellen DeGeneres circa-2014 Oscars style selfie, with a pointed mic drop.

Julia Michaels, the songwriter behind the likes of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar” who launched her solo career with last year’s hit “Issues,” took the stage in a hunting-inspired look of camo pants, a quilted orange bomber jacket, and classic Doc Martens. She was quickly followed up by Khalid, who proceeded to steal the show with his soulful voice, way with words, and perfectly wholesome red, plaid button-down.

SZA, who scored nominations for best R&B performance, best urban-contemporary album, and best rap/sung performance, in addition to her nod for best new artist, briefly joined Khalid on stage after his second song, “Location,” to give the people what they wanted—a firsthand look at that unmistakable head of hair and the chance to hear live the voice that rocked 2017. The transition was seamless; she sang a short set of “Love Galore” and “The Weekend” and, before the crowd knew what was happening, Logic, nominated for best song of the year and best music video, was on stage giving a surprise performance of “1-800-273-8255.”

The evening concluded with one final song, Marshmello and Khalid’s play-it-once-then-keep-it-on-repeat hit “Silence”—an appropriate-enough send-off for a crowd exiting the party into the hushed early-morning streets of Manhattan.

Nora MaloneyComment