Now in the thick of awards season, Sunday night’s 61st Grammy Awards served up a string of satisfying winners and memorable performances, while Alicia Keys redefined the role of award show hosts.
The Recording Academy did an excellent job of spreading the awards around this year. One of the most annoying things about awards shows is when the same people win every award.
But, unlike most years, we saw fresh faces taking home trophies.
The biggest winner of the night, Kacey Musgraves swept every category in which she received a nomination. She took home a total of four Grammys, two of which were televised, including two major categories — Best Country Album and Album of the Year. Musgrave’s performance of “Rainbow” was full of grace and her natural charisma.
Childish Gambino’s “This is America” broke hip-hop history, winning both Song of the Year and Record of the Year, while Cardi B, who had never won a Grammy before, was overwhelmed with emotion after becoming the first solo woman to win Best Rap Album for her debut “Invasion Of Privacy.”
Other artists awarded include Drake, Dua Lipa, H.E.R. and “A Star Is Born” co-stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
The performances this year were some of the strongest I’ve ever seen. The collaborative performances surprisingly worked really well, such as Camila Cabello’s rendition of her song “Havana.”
Cabello kicked off the night with this infectious performance, putting a theatrical twist on her music by inviting an all-star cast of major influencers in Latin music, including Ricky Martin, Young Thug, Arturo Sandoval and J Balvin, to join her on stage.
Newcomers to the awards show made names for themselves as well. H.E.R. gained loads of new fans with her performance of “Hard Place,” while Cardi B turned her song “Money” into an elaborately staged show-stopper, proving to the world that she is, indeed, a performer.
Other performances were just as stellar. Brandi Carlile, who won three awards early in the night but none during the telecast, crushed “The Joke.” Dolly Parton brought down the house with a star-studded performance joined by Miley Cyrus, Little Big Town, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves and Katy Perry.
No one held back while giving performances of a lifetime to honor the queen of country music. The Parton tribute celebrated Parton’s songwriting and came after she was recognized for her musical achievements and philanthropic work as MusiCares Person of the Year on Friday night.
The host of the awards, Keys, proved that hosting the Grammys doesn’t need to be a comedy routine, bringing her charming presence to the awards show. Keys, who was the first woman to host the show in 14 years, tackled the job with her super-chill approach and provided calming energy to music’s most high-stress night.
In one of many stand-out moments for Keys, the 15-time Grammy winner used her musical talent to blow the audience away with a set full of major hits. At one point during her medley, Keys played two pianos at the same time.
By putting a veteran on stage, someone with both true talent and nothing to prove, the Grammy Awards may have played the right card, which led to hosting a success.