The 9 Most Outrageous Moments at the 2019 Grammy Awards
The awards are typically something of an afterthought at the Grammys. Boatloads of trophies are given out before the ceremony even begins airing, and, this year, winning musicians' speeches were cut off to move along an already lengthy broadcast. But barring some notable exceptions, the Recording Academy actually put on an entertaining show, largely thanks to the women on stage.
During the telecast, we got tributes to icons like Dolly Parton and Diana Ross, and performances from Janelle Monáe and St. Vincent. (The less spoken about the Post Malone/Red Hot Chili Peppers team-up, the better.) Best New Artist winner Dua Lipa even used her speech to not-so-subtly dig Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, who said last year that female artists need to "step up" in order to have a larger presence at the Grammys. "I guess this year we really stepped up," said the British singer.
As for the biggest trophies, country artist Kacey Musgraves' Golden Hour -- our favorite album of 2018 -- ended the night by being crowned Album of the Year. Meanwhile, other categories led to landmark moments: Childish Gambino's "This Is America" became the first-ever rap track to win both the Song of the Year and Record of the Year categories, while Cardi B is now the only solo woman to win Best Rap Album, for Invasion of Privacy. But what else went down? Here are some of the best, wildest, and weirdest moments that happened at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.
Alicia Keys brings out her friends: Gaga, Jada, Michelle, and J. Lo
When host Alicia Keys casually invited some of "her sisters" up on stage to help her open the show, she underplayed just how impressive her pals were going to be. Who emerged? Oh, just Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez, and, you know, former First Lady Michelle Obama. Each woman was there to give a brief monologue about the impact music has had on their lives. Gaga began, essentially delivering cut lines from A Star Is Born: "They said I was weird. That my look, my choices, my sound, that it wouldn't work. But music told me not to listen to them." Obama -- interrupted by cheers from the audience -- honored everything "from the Motown records I wore out on the South Side to the 'who run the world' songs that fueled me through this last decade." But really it was just the impact of those five incredibly powerful women sharing a stage that had the internet reeling with glee. It was a high moment that the rest of the telecast had to reach to match. -- Esther Zuckerman
Janelle Monáe gave vaginas a shout out
During Janelle Monáe’s performance of “Make Me Feel,” off Album of the Year nominee Dirty Computer, the R&B artist made a point to give the female reproductive system a much deserved shout out by yelling, “Let the vagina have a monologue.” The singer was then joined by a group of back-up dancers donning the iconic, fuchsia pussy pants that first appeared in her “PYNK” music video as she sang a brief verse off the empowering track. If anyone’s going to mention vaginas live on a CBS telecast -- let alone the Grammy’s, which controversially have failed to recognize female artists -- Monáe’s gonna be the one to do it. -- Sadie Bell
Will Smith's Genie emerges to invade your nightmares
The Grammys moment Twitter had the most fun with did not happen during the ceremony. Disney used a commercial break to debut a new trailer for its live action Aladdin remake, and viewers were shocked, to say the least, when they got their first look at Will Smith's Genie. Photos of Smith in character had appeared in Entertainment Weekly, but they did not show him in all of his animated, blue, jacked-up glory. The final reveal shows that this Genie is incredibly ripped, very blue, and has emerged from some uncanny valley to haunt your dreams. -- EZ
Offset was really into Cardi B's performance
Offset and Cardi B secretly married after only a couple months of dating, had a baby together, endured rumors that he cheated on her, and then briefly separated. But based on Offset’s reaction to Cardi’s Grammys appearance, the two are still very much in love. In the midst of her showgirl-inspired performance of "Money," the camera cut to Offset as he was nodding to the beat and sticking out his tongue. Offset wasn’t the only one watching, though: The performance was arguably one of the night’s best and most talked-about. Accompanied by pianist Chloe Flower and synchronic back-up dancers, Cardi twerked on pianos and strutted across the stage in feathers as if she were in Vegas, minor wardrobe malfunction as her diamonds began slipping off her neck and accusations of lip-syncing be damned. Later, Cardi B made history by becoming the first solo woman to take home the award for Best Rap Album. -- SB
Keys took to the pianos
It makes sense that Keys would play some music while hosting the Grammys. After all, it's music's "biggest night" and she's a musician. So in the middle of the show Keys sat down between not one but two pianos and played some songs. But what was slightlybaffling about her interlude was that there was no real connective tissue between the tunes she mashed up aside from the fact that she likes them so much she wishes she had written them. She did a little bit of "Killing Me Softly" and a little bit of nominated song "Boo'd Up." At one point she even played the melody of Coldplay's "Clocks." She did some "Doo-Wop (That Thing)." And while the mash-up may have been a bit all over the place it was enjoyable, naturally. Hey, it's Alicia Keys! She's wildly talented! -- EZ
Diana Ross wished herself a happy birthday
The legend Diana Ross doesn't turn 75 until next month, but she turned the Grammys into a glorious celebration of her fabulousness. Introduced by her young grandson, Ross took the stage in a billowing red gown to sing her songs "The Best Years of My Life" and "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)." When she launched into the latter she started to interact with the audience, asking them to wave their hands and "move the energy in the room." She wanted the house lights turned up so she could see all the faces, and briefly did an impromptu duet with Jaden Smith. She ended by wishing herself, "Happy birthday to me" like the true queen she is. -- EZ
Gaga became a meme
It was a big night for Lady Gaga. Between appearing in the opening with Alicia Keys' assembled supergroup and actually winning one of the few awards given during the broadcast, she was all over the ceremony. However, a couple of her appearances became more meme'd than others. First off, she won the Taylor Swift Honorary Prize (that we just made up) for enthusiastic audience member, then she surprised with a performance of Shallow that was more Ally on SNL than Ally Onstage with Jackson. (A Star Is Born fans know what that means.) Gaga donned a catsuit to sing the hit alongside Mark Ronson, turning the melancholy tune in to a savage anthem. It wasn't to everyone's liking, but it was definitely not what she's going to do at the Oscars in a couple of weeks. -- EZ
THE GRAMMYS: drake please come to the grammys— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) February 11, 2019
THE GRAMMYS: we’ll give you an award
DRAKE, accepting his award: listen none of this matters it’s all bullsh—
THE GRAMMYS: CUT TO COMMERCIAL DEAR GOD CUT TO COMMERCIAL
They cut off Drake and a bunch of other people
While collecting his Best Rap Song win for "God's Plan," Drake essentially used the moment to flex on how unimportant he thinks the Recording Academy and the Grammy Awards are in the great scheme of things. "We play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport," he said. "The point is, you’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown. Look, if there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and snow, spending money to buy tickets to your shows. You don’t need this right here. You already won." And then the his microphone was silenced and the telecast cut to commercial. It’s hard to speculate what he may have said next, or why producer Ken Ehrlich (who is already beefing with Ariana Grande) also cut off H.E.R., Dua Lipa, and Kacey Musgraves, but it's not a good look. Drake, like a number of other acts, turned down an offer to perform, and he was rumored to be a no-show, but after tonight, you'd have to figure the rapper is no longer "down for [the Grammys] always."-- SB
Ariana Grande wasn't there...but might as well have been
Ariana Grande has been dominating the music news cycle in the lead up to the release of her new album thank u, next. And even though she was nowhere to be seen at the Grammys, but her presence was definitely felt. Late last week, Grande explained on Twitter why she would not be performing, saying her "creativity [and] self expression was stifled by" producer Ehrlich. That didn't stop her from winning Best Pop Vocal Album -- handed out before CBS went live with the show -- or from commenting on social media. She posted multiple photos on Instagram featuring the Zac Posen dress she would have worn had she decided to go. But those images didn't create as much of a stir as her deleted tweets, seemingly angry that her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller, who died last year, did not win Best Rap Album. -- EZ
Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist.