It was a night of positivity and love, all thanks to its amazing host Alicia Keys, who was a joy to watch and hear. But that’s not to say the show didn’t have its share of eyebrow-raising moments. What we didn’t love? How several speeches got cut abruptly because the show — which was almost four hours long — overran. Not cool. Here are some other moments you should know about.
1. Oh hello, Michelle
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For me, a big part of friendship is showing up for your girls—whether that’s for a birthday, a quick catch-up after work, or a major milestone. So I was thrilled to be there for the one and only @aliciakeys at the #GRAMMYs. She is one of the most genuine, caring, and thoughtful people I know—there’s no one better to help us all celebrate the unifying power of music!
Talk about star power. Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance onstage, accompanied by host Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jennifer Lopez, to share how music plays a part in everyone’s lives. “Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes and joys. It allows us to hear one another, to invite each other in. Music shows us that all of it matters — every story within every voice, every note within every song. Is that right ladies?” Who run the world indeed.
2. Our favourite new duo
Dressed in an edgy black vest, Shawn Mendes kicked off In My Blood (which was nominated Song of the Year) on the piano before moving on to the guitar. He was then joined by Miley Cyrus, who in classic Miley fashion, turned it into a high-octane rock ballad that got everyone cheering. It was a helluva performance and they were on FIRE. We’ll take more from these two please!
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3. Thank you Dolly
It was a star-studded affair: A powerhouse of women artistes, including, err, the legend herself, belted out a medley of songs to pay tribute to Dolly Parton’s contributions to the industry. First up, Katy Perry and Kacey Musgraves sang Here You Come Again — Katy seemed to be struggling a little with the rhythm — before they were joined by Dolly, who was dressed in a majestic lace number. Then, her god-daughter Miley Cyrus joins her for a Jolene duet. The medley continued with Maren Morris and Little Big Town, before everyone returned for for a fun-filled rendition of “9 to 5”. BTW guys, she’s 73 years old. We’ll have whatever she’s having.
4. Cardi B was being Cardi B
Cardi stole the show when she took to the stage – which was transformed into a jewel-toned boudoir – with a troupe of perfectly coordinated dancers. It was a sight to behold. Cardi (who later won Best Rap Album, which she emotionally accepted) rocked her hit Money in a flapper-style wig and leopard print bodysuit. So good, even her on-again, off-again husband, Offset, approved. What we didn’t want to see, was the tonguing during Red Carpet.
5. Alicia Keys was freaking awesome
Midway through the show, Alicia Keys began a monologue by playing a show-stopping sequence on two pianos at the same time. Paying tribute to some of her favourite songs, she said she wished she wrote some of these pieces herself. What followed was a series of amazing performances accompanied by the piano, from Killing Me Softly to Unforgettable to Clocks and Doo Wop (That Thing). “And finally, you write the song you wish you wrote,” she said, launching into Empire State of Mind. Arresting, crazy piano skills, and mesmerising — what more can we say? Alicia is talent personified.
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6. Drake made a dig at the Grammys
In one of the more surprising moments of the ceremony, Drake showed up to accept his Best Rap Song award for God’s Plan – there were rumours that he wasn’t going to attend. He then went on to talk about how sometimes the music industry can be “an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport”. “This is a business where sometimes it is up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada has to say, or a brother from Houston right there, my brother Travis.”
Making the point that awards shows are not everything, he added: “You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you are a hero in your hometown. If there is people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here, I promise you, you already won.” His microphone then got cut. Ouch.
7. Diana Ross’ still got it
Following an introduction by her adorbs nine-year-old grandson, Diana Ross, decked in a resplendent red chiffon gown, sang The Best Years of My Life. She was clearly moved by the emotional moment. “Thank you for being here celebrating my 75th birthday,” she said, tearing up, to a standing crowd. She then segued into Reach Out and Touch (Everybody’s Hand), involving everyone in the audience. Every note was on point, every word in pitch. “Together we have no limits, there is only success ahead,” she said. “Live, dream — all is possible with music. You can lead the way!” She ended the stirring performance with an enthusiastic “Happy Birthday to me!” Everyone should be like Diana Ross.
8. Lady Gaga went solo
No Bradley Cooper with her today (he’s in UK for the British Academy Film Awards), so Gaga had to belt out her Grammy-winning song Shallow from A Star is Born alone. But it’s nice to see that she is still deliciously weird. Dressed in a glittery full body suit and towering heels, Gaga gave the emotional ballad an edgier twist, flipping her head wildly and throwing herself all over the stage — while belting out the song with flawless vocals. We miss Bradley, but nice effort from the Queen of Pop.
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9. Jlo gave a glitzy Motown medley
It was a strange choice, to have Jennifer Lopez do a Motown tribute. But Jlo did a pretty decent job in her energetic set, which included Dancing in the Street and Please Mr Postman, while accompanied by a row of gorgeous dancers. Dressed in a feathery piece, which she shrugged off to reveal a bejewelled leotard, she shook her booty with so much sass, even we were feeling hot under the collar. She also dueted with Smokey Robinson on My Girl, and jumped on top of the piano as Ne-Yo played. An acrobatic performance, although we wish it was Alicia Keys doing the honours (and the Twitterverse agrees).
10. The best tribute ever
Organisers, this is how you do a tribute. Andra Day, Fantasia Barrino and Yolanda Adams sang their hearts out and showed off their stunning vocals in their version of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman — a rendition that gave everyone goosebumps. In honour of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who died last August, it was a faultless and flawless performance.
11. A night for the ladies
The ladies were the big winners this year after a #Grammyssomale backlash last year. Kacey Musgraves snagged the coveted Album of the Year, which she humbly accepted saying, “Winning this doesn’t make my album any better than any other in this category.” Cardi B, as mentioned, won Best Rap Album in a male-dominated category. Brandi Carlile got three wins during the pre-show ceremony (Best Americana album, Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song). Proving that she, hands down, deserved them, she slayed her first-ever Grammys appearance with a heartfelt and inspiring rendition of The Joke.
Another worthy winner is H.E.R. (real name Gabriella Wilson), who nabbed Best R&B Album. “It’s not even an album, it’s an EP!” marvelled the 21-year-old, before she graciously invited her team onstage with her. Dua Lipa also beat out tough competition when she won Best New Artist, right after a mesmerising and vampy performance with St. Vincent. “I guess we’ve really stepped up!” she said, referencing outgoing Recording Academy President Neil Portnow’s comments. When asked about the lack of female artist representation in last year’s Grammy Awards, he had said women needed to “step up”. Bravo and congrats to all the ladies!