Last night was the first time in 15 years that the Grammy Awards were held in New York City, but unfortunately, that didn’t make them any more groundbreaking. As with the Golden Globes, the attendees attempted to shed light on the abuse of power within the industry, but The Recording Academy’s results didn’t do much for the cause: Men swept the Grammys with only one woman (Alessia Cara) winning in the main categories. The Academy president’s response? “I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls — who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on an executive level — to step up, because I think they would be welcome.” Ooookay…
Another thing I won’t recover from: that James Corden’s subway skit. If you happened to miss it, consider yourself lucky. Still, there were some Grammy moments worth celebrating. Here are the seven best things that happened last night.
Cardi B: still living her best life
In 2017, Cardi B became the first female rapper to have her first three songs in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. She graced the covers of New York magazine, Rolling Stone and The Fader and genuinely lived her very best life.
We’re only 29 days into 2018 and Cardi B is on track to make this her year too. Her first time at the Grammys was proof. She didn’t take home any awards last night, but let’s be honest: she won the Grammys. She walked the red carpet in a stunning dress by Ashi Studio with her gorgeous sister Hennessy and gave the best answer to the question, “How are you feeling?” during her very awkward interview with E! New’s Giuliana Rancic: “I feel nervous, overwhelmed, everything. … I feel it all, whoo! Butterflies in my stomach and vagina!”
She killed her debut Grammys performance with Bruno Mars while giving a 90s Moschino look and all of the charisma you wish your favs had on stage. She got a personal note from Bono and made the best video about it. And, while doing a reading of Fire and Fury (a cameo-packed skit, see further down on the list) she went off-script in disbelief that Trump reportedly eats McDonalds to avoid being poisoned: “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe that he really—this is how he lives his life?” Me neither, Cardi.
Blue Ivy was there
I would have preferred if producers kept the camera on Blue Ivy at all times. First of all, she looked adorable in her white dress, bun and kid-friendly block heels. Then, whatever commentary she was having with her parents proved she should probably be inducted into The Recording Academy soon, as she clearly has THOUGHTS (her motioning for Beyoncé and Jay Z to stop clapping after Camila Cabello said U2 was performing was relatable; I still haven’t forgiven U2 for automatically uploading their free album into everyone’s iTunes either), no poker face, and she also already has song features thanks to her parents. Give Blue Ivy what she deserves!
Childish Gambino and SZA killed their first Grammys performances
Along with Cardi B, 2017 was an incredible year for Childish Gambino and SZA too, and they both gave some of the best performances of the night.
Childish Gambino sang “Terrified” with a cameo from JD McCrary who, fun fact, will play the younger version to his Simba in the forthcoming live-action Lion King movie. He also won the award for Best Traditional R&B Performance for his chart-topping song “Redbone.” On his way to an EGOT.
SZA was the most nominated woman (five awards including Best New Artist) and didn’t win (blasphemy), but her vocals gave me life. She performed “Broken Clocks,” a favorite song of Barack Obama (because obviously he gets it). She was also one of the best dressed on the red carpet, wearing an airy Atelier Versace dress alongside her mom and grandmother, who she brought as her dates.
Rihanna and Rihanna’s hair
I’m not going to lie, I can’t stand the Santana guitar riff on “Wild Thoughts,” but I still know all the words to Rihanna’s verses and watched the video multiple times just to look at her. Suffice it to say I was very excited to see her perform with DJ Khaled last night. Her custom Adam Selman dress and meme-worthy choreography made it all worth it, even if she had to share the stage with Bryson Tiller. She also won an award for her feature on Kendrick Lamar’s “LOYALTY.” and her hair looked amazing.
Kendrick Lamar’s powerful political performance
Thoughtful, politically charged and visually impeccable are three things you can always expect from a Kendrick Lamar performance, and last night the rapper delivered. His performance, which was a compilation of songs from his album DAMN., was the best one of the night.
He opened with an army of troops in front of the American flag, then the screen switched to say: “THIS IS A SATIRE BY KENDRICK LAMAR.” There was a cameo from Dave Chappelle who said: “I just wanted to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America, is being an honest black man in America. Sorry for the interruption. Please continue.” There was also a random cameo from U2 and a haunting ending featuring a series of gunshots with a dancer falling to the ground after each one.
Janelle Monae’s speech while introducing Kesha, and Kesha’s performance
The best speech of the night went to Janelle Monae, who wasn’t accepting an award but was introducing Kesha. Echoing the Times Up commentary from the Golden Globes, she called out the music industry for its culture of abusing power and mistreating women, saying: “It’s not just going on in Hollywood, it’s not just going on in Washington, it’s right here in our industry as well. And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo a culture that does not serve us well.”
Kesha followed with a performance of her song “Praying,” which she wrote in the wake of her public lawsuit with music producer Dr. Luke, to show her support for the #MeToo movement. She was joined on stage by Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha and Andra Day.
That cameo-packed reading of Fire & Fury
In a skit that made up for the terrible James Corden, Sting and Shaggy subway sketch, musicians were invited to “audition” for an audio reading of the Trump administration tell-all book Fire and Fury, which was the catalyst for the infamous “stable genius” tweet and quickly became a bestseller. There were hilarious cameos from Snoop Dogg, DJ Khaled, Cardi B, Cher, John Legend….and a surprise cameo from Grammy-winner Hillary Clinton…who obviously got the part.
Did you watch? Let’s talk about it all in the comments.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS.