The Grammys (and the Oscars, for that matter) are sometimes accused of knuckle-dragging their way behind the times; while there’ll always be contention around the actual award-winners, it looks like The Recording Academy has been making changes, because this was the most awesomely women-centric – and in particular, WOC – ceremony we’ve ever seen.
Here’s our list of the most notable parts of the event, which you may have missed if you weren’t glued to the teev (like we were), and head here for the full list of winners.
1: Straight off the bat, Alicia Keys is the woman for whom the phrase “hostess with the mostess” exists. She shared her opening monologue with Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez; Obama got the biggest cheer (“From the Motown records I wore out on the south side to the ‘Who Run The World’ songs that fuelled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story… it allows us to hear one another – to invite each other in”), while in a turn less inspired than her planet-sized headwear, J-Lo basically paraphrased the lyrics of Jenny From The Block.
A big part of friendship is showing up for your girls—that’s why I was thrilled to be there for the one and only @aliciakeys at the #GRAMMYs. She is one of the most genuine and thoughtful people I know—there’s no one better to help us all celebrate the unifying power of music! pic.twitter.com/8cMhTmsClA
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) February 11, 2019
2: While we’re on this gush-wagon, let’s shout out Keys’ double-piano medley of the songs that “live inside [her]”, which she wishes she’d written: Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly, Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable, Drake’s In My Feelings, Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody, Lauryn Hill’s Doo-Wop (That Thing), and then, “finally, you write the song you wish you wrote”: her own New York. Girl doesn’t have 15 Grammys under her belt for nothing.
3: Not that we don’t love Shallow (see Bummer #3), but Childish Gambino’s This Is America won Song of the Year over Lady Gaga’s hit. Yew!
4: Janelle Monae’s performance was a high water mark of the night: The Pink-trousers cameo, the moonwalk, her neat little spat-struts, the actual mic drop. Divine.
5: When Miley came on stage to sing Jolene (which was my favourite Miley song until Nothing Breaks Like A Heart) with Dolly Parton, sister Noah and daddy-pops Billy Ray were cheering like madpeople, and we got a great camera shot of Mark Ronson singing along, looking like a total dork.
6: I’m stoked to see that in these post-Despacito times, Ricky Martin is still considered the reigning prince of Latinx – he nailed his part in Camila Cabelo’s West Side Story-inspired performance of Havana.
7: Drake had some very wise words for young people getting into the industry: he said that the music game is “an opinion-based sport”, and if regular people are spending their hard-earned to come see your shows, you don’t need a Grammy – you’ve already won.
— Drake Direct (@DrakeDirect_) February 11, 2019
8: Jaden Smith knows all the words to Diana Ross’s Reach Out And Touch – go son! Ross just happened to point her mic at the lad’s face as she walked through an adoring crowd.
9: Ross’s performance was all-in-all gorgeous, and hilarious. “Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me!” She shouted. “Learn! Dream! Unlock new doors! All is possible! You can lead the way!” And then in the ultimate no-nonsense about-face, “Put your hands back in the air, don’t be lazy.”
10: Cardi B’s reaction to winning Best Rap Album. The woman is genuine and beautiful. Also: “You! Husband! Thank you!”
— Lady Gaga Media ⭐️ (@GagaMediaDotNet) February 11, 2019
11: Andra Day, Fantastia and Yolanda Adams’ performance of the late Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.
1: Katy Perry and Kacey Musgraves have such different voices, it was a bit of a weird decision to pair them for the Dolly Parton tribute; Kacey sounded out of her depth, and Katy was hamming it up like she hadn’t been on a stage in ten years.
2: Post Malone spent most of his performance trying to find his way out of what looked like an underground labyrinth filling with smoke. “Get down low and go, go, go,” mate. He did have a ball while on-stage with Red Hot Chilli Peppers (the best thing about that being, as usual, Flea’s moves).
3: I wanted to be into Lady Gaga’s Quasimodo glamrock moves, but with the producers hyping the upcoming performance every pre-ad break, and every second ad an advertisement for A Star Is Born itself, added to the general ubiquity of Shallow… eh.
— Lady Gaga Facts (@LGMonsterFacts) February 11, 2019
4: Did anyone else freak when those dancers body-tackled J-Lo during the Motown tribute? Her boa practically exploded into the air like a cartoon. I didn’t need that panic attack. But the performance: top-notch.
5: Wilmer Valderrama introducing St Vincent and Dua Lipa. Was David Boreanaz not available?
6: Not sure if the people on stage can’t hear the ‘let’s wrap this up’ music, but the producers deadset cut Dua Lipa’s mic during her acceptance speech for winning Best New Artist – and Kacey Musgraves (in her speech for Album of the Year, for God’s sake) got out by the skin of her teeth.
Dua lipa: Thank you so much and I want to t-
— ThatChickTianna (@tiannabeballlin) February 11, 2019