Kacey Musgraves, Childish Gambino, Brandi Carlile Dominate 61st Grammy Awards
61st Grammy Awards
KACEY MUSGRAVES, CHILDISH GAMBINO and BRANDI CARLILE dominated tonight's 61st GRAMMY AWARDS, MUSGRAVES took home a field-leading four GRAMMYS, including ALBUM OF THE YEAR, COUNTRY ALBUM OF THE YEAR, BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE and BEST COUNTRY SONG. DON GLOVER won both RECORD and SONG OF THE YEAR for his rap persona CHILDISH GAMBINO's powerful "This Is America," but was a no-show, making for an anti-climactic evening for the multi-talented star, who also took home a third GRAMMY for BEST MUSIC VIDEO. BRANDI CARLILE's three GRAMMYS all came during the non-televised section of the show, but her performance of "The Joke" was one of the evening's highlights. In the final Big Four category, BEST NEW ARTIST, DUA LiPA was the surprise winner, offering the perfect ending to her sultry, edgy, estrogen-fueled duet with ST. VINCENT just before receiving the award. LADY GAGA also took home three awards, including BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE for "Shallow." An emotional CARDI B won BEST RAP ALBUM, the first female solo performer to ever win the honor, then admitted she needed to smoke some weed to calm down.
The show got underway with a bang, a sizzling performance by CAMILA CABELLO of :"Havana," with RICKY MARTIN, J BALVIN and trumpet legend ARTURO SANDOVAL on a multi-tiered set that included a full tenement apartment building.
ALICIA KEYS then arrived to host the evening, playing up the evening's themes of music, inclusion and, yep, female power, as she brought up a quartet of LADY GAGA, JADA PINKETT-SMITH, JENNIFER LOPEZ and none other than scene-stealer MICHELLE OBAMA to deliver the message.
Then it was time for the first duet of the evening, SHAWN MENDES singing his two-time GRAMMY nominated song, "In My Blood," with MILEY CYRUS joining mid-song.
KACEY MUSGRAVES, elegant in a white gown, offered a soaring "Rainbow," fitting in perfectly with the night's overall direction, while JANELLE MONAE was superb on a very PRINCE-like "Make Me Feel," which did just that with its tic-toc funk rhythms.
Rock n' roll even reared its head, with POST MALONE following up renditions of his smashes "Stay" and "Rockstar" by joining the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS for their "Dark Necessities," hinting at future collaborations to come.
The DOLLY PARTON tribute was next, with DOLLY herself joining KATY PERRY and KACEY MUSGRAVES ("Here You Come Again"), MILEY CYRUS ("Jolene"),and MAREN MORRIS (for a lovely three-part a cappella harmony on NEIL YOUNG's "After the Gold Rush" from the "TRIO" album), LITTLE BIG TOWN ("Red Shoes") and the grand all-hands-on-deck finale, "9 to 5."
BEST NEW ARTIST nominee H.E.R. followed with perhaps the night's breakout performance, dazzling with "Hard Place," with CARDI B a close runner-up on a raucous, peacock-feather twirling "Money" that might have made MAE WEST blush. Later on, she'd take home her second GRAMMY of the night for BEST R&B ALBUM, even while claiming "It's only an EP," before bringing up her band to join her on-stage.
ALICIA KEYS then took center-stage, seamlessly gliding in the middle of two pianos for what was dubbed,"Songs I Wish I'd Written,", a medley which included such GRAMMY-related songs as "Killing Me Softly," "Unforgettable," "Use Somebody," LAURYN HILL's "Doo Wop" and her own JAY-Z collab, "Empire State Of Mind"). DAN & SHAY were next, with a "Tequila" that ended in an impressive operatic finish from SHAY. Show logistics then had them handing out the GRAMMY for BEST RAP SONG to surprise attendee DRAKE for "God's Plan," only to launch into a speech encouraging artists to follow their own vision and the awards will come, only to be cut off in midstream when CBS went to commercial.
The evening's emotional centerpiece had to be the appearance of DIANA ROSS, introduced by her adorable grandson, regal in a red gown, as she went with the retrospective "The Best Years of My Life" and "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)," wading into the audience where she brushed past UMG head LUCIAN GRAINGE in one of those surreal GRAMMY moments.
Even with BRADLEY COOPER missing in action, LADY GAGA didn't disappoint with a fully rocking performance of "Shallow," featuring MARK RONSON and collaborators, DOWNTOWN MUSIC signees ANDREW WYATT and ANTHONY ROSSOMANDO backing her up.
TRAVIS SCOTT followed up his SUPER BOWL performance with "Sicko Mode," accompanied by JAMES BLAKE and EARTH, WIND & FIRE's PHILIP BAILEY and VERDINE WHITE for "Stop Trying to Be God" and "No Bystanders."
The controversial JENNIFER LOPEZ-starring MOTOWN tribute proved a crowd-pleaser, as LOPEZ had boyfriend ALEX RODRIGUEZ's jaw dropping after being joined by SMOKEY ROBINSON for "My Girl," ALICIA KEYS for "Papa Was A Rolling Stone," and NE-YO for a cover of STEVIE WONDER's "Another Star."
BRANDI CARLILE's stirring performance of "The Joke," with lyrics scrolled on a screen in back of her, generated the most enthusiastic crowd response, while BEST NEW ARTIST nominees CHLOE X HALLE paid tribute to the late DONNY HATHAWAY with a version of "Where Is The Love."
The prize for the night's most provocative appearance was ST. VINCENT and DUA LIPA's erotic push-pull on a medley that included "Masseduction," an interpolation of "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" and LIPA's "One Kiss," a kinky prelude to DUA's unexpected BEST NEW ARTIST win.
Outgoing RECORDING ACADEMY President/CEO NEIL PORTNOW gave his own version of a farewell speech after a series of taped tributes, admitting he learned a great deal during this last tumultuous year about being more inclusive. The IN MEMORIAM section ended with ARETHA FRANKLIN and segued into a tribute, with ANDRA DAY, FANTASIA and YOLANDA ADAMS leaning into "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" that ended the performances on a high note.
PHARRELL WILLIAMS took home PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, NON-CLASSICAL HONORS.
For a complete list of winners, go here.
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