First of all, let me begin by saying how much I love live television; it gets so awkward sometimes in the most humanizing way and it feels like a peek through the veil of polished cues the entertainment industry hangs its hat on. Watching the show’s host Alicia Keys casually chat with the audience for a good 20 seconds before the realizing the show was back on air, or no one knowing what to do or where to point the camera when Donald Glover didn’t show up to accept his Grammy after “This Is America” became the first-ever rap song in history to win Song of the Year — it was all so spectacularly awkward and delightful. The bumbling humanity of the telecast was monumentally overshadowed by some of my favorite performances in Grammy history, from the epic Dolly Parton tribute singalong to Post Malone shredding on guitar with Red Hot Chili Peppers to up-and-coming R&B artist H.E.R. making the whole room stop breathing with her stunning vocal and guitar solo.
We were cheated out of an Ariana Grande performance, though, which I’m actually more disappointed by now after having sat through the three-and-a-half -hour telecast because the other live acts were so damned good, I just know she would’ve slayed. Shout-out Ariana for refusing to back off her artistic vision or let the Grammy’s thank u, next-her without a fight (you can read more on that here), but for now, here’s everything we loved about the Grammy 2019 telecast and a complete list of winners.
Alicia Keys Being the Most Likable Person Ever
She should just host every year, honestly. From her down-to-Earth delivery of what can sometimes come off as a rather robotic awards ceremony to her double-piano performance about what it really means to be a true music fan featuring songs she wished she’d written. She sang Kings of Leon and The Fugees in the same breath! Also, this is purely speculative, but I”m pretty sure Alicia smoked a joint with Eve and her husband Swizz Beats during Gaga’s excessively over-the-top performance of “Shallow” from A Star Is Born; they were all a little red-eyed and silly after that. And I’m also pretty sure Cardi called her out during her acceptance speech for Best Rap Album a few minutes later.
“This Is America” Winning Song of the Year and Donald Glover Only Appearing for Pixel
Talk about weird flexes: less than an hour into the telecast, Google pulled the biggest troll of the Grammys so far with an appearance from one of the most talked-about artists of the year in their Pixel commercial who the Grammys couldn’t get to appear themselves, Donald Glover dancing with his avatar-self. Also, I want a Google Pixel now. It looks badass.
Post Malone and Red Hot Chili Peppers
Post and RHCP brought the West Coast to life on live television with their three-song performance that opened with Post alone on an acoustic guitar looking like an icon in his Johnny Cash-tastic suit busting out his raspy yet sweet singing voice. Even though someone needs to fire the damned smoke machine operator (you couldn’t see Post at all during 60 percent of his “Rockstar” performance), this was still one of the most high-impact and unexpectedly wonderful performances of the evening.
Dolly Parton’s Voice Goes Down in History
Dolly’s joint performance with her goddaughter Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, and Little Big Town was jaw-dropping, mostly because of how much better Dolly’s voice sounded next to that list of all-star singers. She is an absolute force of nature, and at the end she debuted a new song with Little Big Town about how she’s going to be wearing her red shoes until the day she dies and when she gets to heaven (if they let her in), and it was so effortlessly iconic, I was left speechless.
Greta Van Fleet Winning Best Rock Album
See Pitchfork’s 1.6 review of said album, this line specifically which, in my opinion, sums up their entire career: “Greta Van Fleet sound like they did weed exactly once, called the cops, and tried to record a Led Zeppelin album before they arrested themselves.”
This one hasn’t hit the internet yet, we’ll update this post as soon as it does, but take our word for it: H.E.R. is completely deserving of the award for Best R&B Album even though it was only a damned EP. C’mon, Grammys, follow your own rules. Or don’t, ’cause she deserved it. But still!
Drake’s Speech Getting Cut Off
I know Drake was trying to share his glory with everyone who didn’t win in his acceptance speech for Best Rap Song, but to me, he sounded like a thankless, overly-verbose sore winner. The Grammys did their thing though by cutting him off just when it seemed like he was finally about to make a point — outstanding.
Apple Music Completely Owning The Whole Show
Apple basically bought the entire telecast, from their pop-up listening suggestions during the show itself to their singalong Memeoji commercials that seemed to hit at every break.
Grammy President Neil Portnow Catching Shade From Dua Lipa, Kacey Musgraves, and Women in Music Generally
The look of casual disgust on Kacey Musgraves’ face in the audience when Grammy President Neil Portnow started talking was priceless. Last year, Neil was famously roasted after he said that women needed to step up if they wanted to be recognized at the ceremony, referring to last year’s awards where only one woman, Alessia Cara, received a solo award. “Women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level… [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome.”
What a cringey line of commentary, but he was not let off the hook by any of this years’ female winners. Dua Lipa cut through her visible nerves and got a nice little troll in during her acceptance speech for Best New Artist when she said, “I just wanted to say how honored I am to be nominated alongside so many incredible female artists this year, because I guess this year we really stepped up!” Fantastic.
Between her 9-year-old grandson’s introduction of her (he was the coolest person in attendance last night aside from his grandma and Dolly Parton, by the way), and the sheer scope of her career (she’s released 59 albums?!) and her wishing herself a happy 75th birthday continuously throughout her performance
Janelle Monae’s Performance and Hat
Her outstanding, semi-psychedelic and all-powerful, goddess-like performance was unforgettable, and so was her hat. That thing probably has its own weather system and needed its own interview on the red carpet, it was so iconic.
J.Lo’s Motown Performance
Although I was shocked they chose her, it’s pretty undeniable that J.Lo crushed the Motown Records medley in a way that made most of us start Googling her date of birth (spoiler: she’s going to be 50 this summer). There’s a lot of people upset about her being the one to do it, which I don’t entirely disagree with, but she was indisputably incredible.
Michelle Obama’s Cameo
The former First Lady helped Alicia open the 61st Grammy Awards in a tasteful nod to reason in governance without getting into the cesspool that is our modern political landscape. It was tasteful and perfect and uniquely bolstered Alicia’s role as the most soothing, authentic host the show’s history has ever known.