GRAMMYS’ BIG NIGHT FULL OF STYLE AND SUBSTANCE
The Grammys can recruit anyone to open the show. They picked Camila Cabello. Don’t know her? You should.
Part big-budget Broadway number, part political statement, all perfect pop jam, “Havana” featured Cabello, J Balvin, Ricky Martin, Young Thug and trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval doing most energetic Grammy opening in a decade. Google it for the song, the set, the backup dancers, the prop newspaper with the headline “Build bridges not walls.”
Last year #GrammysSoMale and Grammy president Neil Portnow saying “Women need to step up” dominated conversation. For the 61st Awards, Academy voters highlighted deserving women, artists of color, and passionate, progressive music resulting in a show (mostly) worth watching.
After Cabello set the night’s tone, host Alicia Keys with Lady Gaga, J. Lo, Jada Pinkett Smith and Michelle Obama spoke of the power of music to keep us dancing and fuel social change. To drive home their point, Janelle Monae proved the future is female and funky with a mashup of “Make Me Feel” and “Pynk” that Prince must have been smiling down on. (Bonus points for all “pop” artists from Monae to best R&B album and R&B performance winner H.E.R. picking up guitars and adding rock, folk, soul and more to their sounds and erasing arbitrary genre lines.)
Looking at the lineup you could predict what would be amazing and what would be lousy (beer bong burnout Post Malone and a flat Red Chili Peppers). Stuff you need to dig up on YouTube today: best rap album champ Cardi B grinding on grand piano so hard Madonna might have blushed on “Money,” Dolly Parton with half a dozen superstars doing everything from “Jolene” to “After the Gold Rush,” and Brandi Carlile performing “The Joke” like the folk ballad, country barn burner, gospel hymn and rock epic it is.
In keeping with the substance-and-style theme flash: Early in the night, Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” — a song and video that examined the ugly intersections of race, racism, violence, capitalism, art, and entertainment — won best
music video and rap/sung performance.
Many more of biggest, best and most deserving names in music took home golden gramophones. Maybe the most nuanced and visceral songwriter working today, Carlile, nabbed best American roots performance, American roots song and Americana album. Right behind her, Kacey Musgraves won huge with best country album, country song and country solo performance awards. Lady Gaga went home with best pop solo performance, pop duo/ group performance and song written for visual media.
STAR POWER: From left, Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez speak at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Sunday.
ROCKIN’: Ricky Martin and Camila Cabello perform ‘Havana’ at the Grammys.
DYNAMIC DUO: Miley Cyrus and Shawn Mendes belt out ‘In My Blood.’