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On Sunday evening, the 61st Grammy Awards telecast did its greatest to stability a number of necessities — making amends to a complete gender, widening its palette of winners and honorees and doing its greatest to award those that are affecting the mainstream now, not 5 years in the past. Inside the slender lens of prime time awards reveals, it appeared to make some progress on every rely, with out drifting too removed from its consolation zone.
Kacey Musgraves gained the evening’s prime honor, Album of the Yr — her fourth trophy of the night — for Golden Hour (which additionally gained Nation Album of Yr). Infantile Gambino gained Document and Tune of the Yr for his epochal “This Is America” (which additionally gained Greatest Music Video) however didn’t attend the ceremony.
Different main awards got to Cardi B, who obtained the prize for Greatest Rap Album for her debut solo effort Invasion of Privateness and Dua Lipa, who seconds after performing alongside St. Vincent was named Greatest New Artist (and pointedly noticed that ladies should’ve actually stepped up during the last yr). Drake shocked everybody by exhibiting as much as settle for the gramophone for Greatest Rap Tune. (You’ll be able to discover our full listing of winners right here.)
Main as much as Sunday evening’s present, the Grammys and its mother or father group the Recording Academy went by means of a reasonably terrible yr, coping with the fallout from outgoing president Neil Portnow’s tone-deaf remark after final yr’s present that ladies in music ought to “step up” if they need recognition. That blunder, within the midst of the #MeToo motion, coupled with the documented lack of awards and nominations for girls and the persistent, well-founded accusations of cultural myopia after years of failing to award a few of music’s most forward-looking artists (Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar chief amongst them in recent times) set expectations for that the 2019 awards would wish to do some severe soul-searching.
Alicia Keys, the third lady of colour to host the ceremony (after Whoopi Goldberg in 1992 and Queen Latifah in 2005), was someway in a position, early on, to drag off saying “I’ve been tremendous blessed to win 15 Grammys” with out being alienating in any approach. Her charisma and free confidence had been infectious, and did lots of the heavy lifting all through the present’s whole run time. (She wasn’t mendacity when she mentioned, throughout her opening speech: “I received you.” She did.) And, as if to drive a stake by means of the guts of this id disaster, Keys was joined for the tail-end of her introductory speech by former First Girl Michelle Obama, Girl Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
For this yr’s awards, the Academy elevated the variety of nominees in every of the 4 major classes (Tune, Album and Document of the yr, plus Greatest New Artist) from 5 to eight. Within the Greatest Album class, there was some hypothesis that Brandi Carlile’s nomination for By The Approach, I Forgive You — Carlile took house three style trophies as a comfort — would possibly trigger a vote cut up between the 2 roots-rooted artists. However for the Academy’s voters, Musgraves’ idiosyncratic work elevated her above some formidable competitors, together with the Kendrick Lamar-curated Black Panther: The Album, Janelle Monáe’s visionary Soiled Pc and Cardi B’s breakout Invasion of Privateness.
Keys was one of many evening’s extra notable performers, too, taking part in twin pianos whereas slaying a medley of songs she “wished [she] had written” –including “Killing Me Softly,” Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable,” a little bit of Coldplay’s “Clocks” and Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Factor),” amongst others — as comfortably as a lounge singer at an everyday Thursday-evening gig, because the manufacturing workers used that point for a stage reset.
Different notable performances included a tribute to Dolly Parton, which prominently featured Parton herself, accompanied by Musgraves, Parton’s goddaughter Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Maren Morris. Dua Lipa and St. Vincent appeared to genuinely get pleasure from each other throughout a mash-up of St. Vincent’s “Masseduction” and Lipa’s “One Kiss.” Cardi B’s lip-synch was off-synch, although she nonetheless managed to ship a compelling, flapper-checking efficiency of “Cash.” Janelle Monae channeled each Prince and Michael Jackson in an early-show standout of “Make Me Really feel,” Girl Gaga introduced a virtually pointless quantity of power to her inescapably meta hit “Shallow.” In the meantime, a tribute to the dearly departed Aretha Franklin — from Andra Day, Fantasia and Yolanda Adams — was simply the evening’s vocal high-water mark. (An in depth second, although, for Brandi Carlile’s efficiency of “The Joke.”)
The present was, as all the time, very lengthy — almost 4 hours. That is in no small half as a result of there are over a dozen business breaks, that are as reflective of the present second as all that occurs throughout the precise present. We had Infantile Gambino as an computer-generated avatar, reprising his “This Is America” dance strikes in an commercial for a brand new Google thingamabob. To not be outdone, Ariana Grande stumped throughout a business break for Apple and their animoji thingamajigs. Camila Cabello additionally appeared in a MasterCard business not lengthy after her opening efficiency. Let’s not even get into that ASMR video that Zoe Kravitz did for a light-weight beer, or Will Smith as The Genie in Disney’s forthcoming live-action Aladdin. In any case, artists should generate profits someway.
Neil Portnow, the besieged and outgoing president and CEO of the Recording Academy, was simple in his remaining speech from the Grammys stage: “We should seize this distinctive second to convey change inside our personal distinctive trade to verify there may be range and inclusion in all that we do — and we are going to.”
The try was palpable — six of the 9 awards given throughout the telecast went to girls. However with a few of the evening’s largest winners and the mainstream’s largest stars not within the constructing, together with Ariana Grande and Infantile Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, The Carters and Kanye West, the Recording Academy could have dug itself a deeper gap than it realizes. Many anticipated that Drake could be amongst that quantity, however he confirmed as much as gather his single award, solely to take direct intention on the Grammys’ relevance. Throughout his acceptance speech, he advised younger artists, gesturing to his new trophy, “You do not want this proper right here.”