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2019 Grammys Recap: Kacey Musgraves Wins Huge, Cardi B and Infantile Gambino Make Historical past

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Heading into the 2019 Grammys, the Recording Academy discovered itself in a precarious place. Final yr, a dearth of girls winners in televised classes impressed criticism within the type of the #GrammySoMale hashtag — and outgoing Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow solely dug a deeper gap along with his notorious feedback about how ladies wanted to “step up” in the event that they needed to see themselves higher represented. 

After which there was the Academy’s relationship with hip-hop, which has been difficult for a while however appeared to a attain nadir when Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, who had probably the most nominations with eight and 7, respectively, misplaced out within the main classes. Lamar nonetheless took house a number of rap-specific trophies, however Jay-Z went house empty-handed, which impressed the diss heard ‘around the world on his and Beyoncé’s The whole lot Is Love LP: “Inform the Grammys fuck that 0-for-Eight shit.” Neither the Carters, Lamar nor Infantile Gambino attended this yr’s ceremony.

So it’s laborious to think about issues going significantly better for the Grammys’ status than what occurred tonight: Kacey Musgraves took house album of the yr for Golden Hour, whose success is probably going all of the extra significant given the well-documented obstacles going through ladies in nation music. Dua Lipa received finest new artist and even referenced final yr’s controversies in her speech, saying, “I assume we’ve actually stepped up.” After which there was Infantile Gambino, whose chart-topping, internet-breaking observe “This Is America” grew to become the primary rap tune to win tune of the yr in addition to the primary rap tune to win document of the yr; Gambino, aka Donald Glover, now joins an elite class of artists, together with Adele and Amy Winehouse, who’ve received each classes for a similar tune in a single yr. Certain, a Cardi B win for album of the yr could have been the last word image of the Grammys answering final yr’s wake-up name, however Cardi nonetheless made her mark with a showstopping, showgirl-inspired efficiency of “Cash” (one way or the other it felt acceptable that she declared “Welcome to the Grammys!” about 90 minutes into the telecast) and a historic finest rap album win for Invasion of Privateness (she’s the primary solo girl to win the class). 

It’s laborious to say how a lot these massive wins are the results of a number of the organizational adjustments the Academy has made within the submit yr, which embody increasing the variety of nominees within the Huge 4 classes from 5 to eight and taking steps to diversify its membership. However that sense of progress that so many Grammys critics and spectators have been searching for went past simply the most important classes and even the awards themselves. That was clear from the leap: The one-two punch of the present’s Latin-music extravaganza — starring Camila Cabello, Ricky Martin, J Balvin, Arturo Sandoval and Younger Thug — and host Alicia Keys’ girl-power summit — that includes Girl Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez and Michelle Obama — set the tone for the night.

Essentially the most memorable performances of the evening all got here from ladies: Janelle Monáe, clad in a latex, Klaus Nomi-esque outfit, pulled off each guitar obligation and a mesmerizing dance breakdown throughout a efficiency of “Make Me Really feel” that additionally noticed her throw in a alternative line from her tune “Django Jane”: “Let the vagina have a monologue.” H.E.R., Musgraves and Brandi Carlile let their music do the speaking with extra delicate, simple performances that put their commanding musicianship on show. And veterans Dolly Parton and Diana Ross flexed their icon standing with retrospective medleys: Parton shared the stage with Katy Perry, Kacey Musgraves, Miley Cyrus, Maren Morris and Little Huge City as they sang a few of her greatest hits, whereas a solo Ross turned a efficiency of “The Greatest Years of My Life” and “Attain Out and Contact (Any person’s Hand)” into each a life-coach session (“There’s solely success forward, and you may paved the way,” she stated) and an aerobics class (“Put your hand again within the air, don’t be lazy”). 

In genre-specific classes, ladies additionally dominated: Kacey Musgraves received three of the 4 nation awards; Girl Gaga and Ariana Grande took house three of the 4 pop awards between them. H.E.R. received two awards within the R&B classes, which additionally noticed wins from Ella Mai (“Boo’d Up” snagged finest R&B tune) and Beyoncé (The whole lot Is Love received finest city modern album). 

That doesn’t imply the evening was freed from missteps: Put up Malone’s team-up with the Purple Sizzling Chili Peppers felt like an uninspired redux of Posty’s collaboration with Aerosmith ultimately yr’s VMAs. The selection to have Jennifer Lopez lead a tribute to Motown acquired a lot criticism that Smokey Robinson, who launched the efficiency, was already defending it as of some days in the past; the precise efficiency hardly received over skeptics. (As author Roxane Homosexual put it on Twitter, “I’m completely baffled. How does J Lo, pop dance queen get tapped to guide a Motown tribute when black ladies exist?”) And a video tribute to Neil Portnow adopted by a speech wherein he touched on the significance of range in music fell someplace between a untimely back-pat and awkward bow on his remarks final yr.

Drake, who’s been essential of the Grammys prior to now, confirmed as much as accumulate the perfect rap tune award for “God’s Plan,” however his speech primarily functioned as subtweet of the Recording Academy, describing the music trade as “an opinion-based sport” the place gatekeepers may not perceive or reward the innovators in entrance of them: “You’ve already received you probably have individuals singing your songs,” he stated. The speech bought a notable co-sign from Ariana Grande on Twitter, who had her personal points with the Academy this previous week. She selected to not attend the ceremony following an obvious disagreement a few potential efficiency; Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich stated there wasn’t sufficient time to tug one thing collectively, a declare Grande disputed in a collection of tweets. (“I’ve stored my mouth shut however now you’re mendacity about me,” she wrote. “i can pull collectively a efficiency over evening and you realize that, Ken. it was when my creativity & self expression was stifled by you.”)

As a lot of a step in the suitable path as this yr’s Grammys appeared, these behind-the-scenes particulars of went what incorrect or what might have been trace at how a lot stronger the evening might have been — and the way rather more star wattage the present that payments itself as “music’s greatest evening” might have pulled in. In an interview with The New York Occasions earlier this week, Ehrlich revealed that he had additionally provided Drake, Kendrick and Infantile Gambino efficiency slots, however all of them declined. Their causes for doing so, no matter they’re, are most likely comprehensible. But with virtually backlash-free winners within the main classes tonight, a future wherein music’s most important artists don’t sit out the Grammys in protest appears nearer than it has in years.

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