Big night for women, rap at Grammy Awards
LOS ANGELES — Women returned to power at the Grammys on Sunday as female acts won album of the year and best new artist, while Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” became the first rap-based song to win record and song of the year.
Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” picked up album of the year, and Dua Lipa won best new artist.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Musgraves said. “I am very thankful. Winning doesn’t make my album any better than anybody else in that category.”
Gambino, the alter ego of actor Donald Glover, did not attend the ceremony but was the night’s big winner, picking up four honors, including best music video and best rap/sung performance.
Drake emerged on stage to accept the best rap song trophy but told the room of musicians that winning awards isn’t necessary if you have real fans attending your concerts and singing your songs.
Drake, who rarely attends awards shows, won the honor for his massive hit “God’s Plan.”
“You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown. Look, if there are people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and 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,” he said at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Rap has endured a longtime losing streak at the Grammys. The last time a rap act won album of the year was in 2004, with Outkast. Only a handful of rappers have won best new artist.
Cardi B made history as the first solo female to win best rap album. Lauryn Hill won as a member of the Fugees at the 1997 Grammys.
She was shaking onstage as she tried to give a thank-you speech with her husband, rapper Offset, holding her arm.
“The nerves are so bad. Maybe I need to start smoking weed,” she said as the audience laughed. “I just want to say thank you everybody that was involved.”
The Grammys kicked off with a group of powerful women, including Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga, describing the role of music in their lives — a display that came a year after female voices were somewhat muted at the 2018 ceremony.
“Music has always helped me tell my story,” said Obama, who surprised the audience with her appearance. “Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves. It allows us to hear one another.”
Gaga told the crowd: “They said I was weird, that my look, that my choices, that my sound wouldn’t work. But music told me not to listen to them.”
Jada Pinkett Smith and Jennifer Lopez also spoke and stood in solidarity with Obama, Gaga and Alicia Keys, who hosted the show on CBS.
“Yes, ladies,” Keys said. “There’s nothing better than this.”
The opening contrasted with last year’s Grammys, where male acts dominated in nominations and the only woman competing for a top award, Lorde, didn’t get a chance to perform onstage.
But this year, Musgraves won four Grammys — including country album, country solo performance for “Butterflies” and country song for “Space Cowboy” — and Gaga and Brandi Carlile each took three.
Carlile took three honors in the Americana category. Gaga’s awards included best pop duo/ group performance, a win she shared with Bradley Cooper.
Gaga, now a nine-time Grammy winner, won best pop solo performance for “Joanne,” while hit “Shallow” was named best song written for visual media. The song from “A Star Is Born” is nominated for an Oscar and also won at the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and the Satellite Awards.
At last year’s ceremony, when asked about the lack of women in the top categories, Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow said women need to “step up.” He later acknowledged that it was a “poor choice of words,” and his muchcriticized remarks forced the academy to launch a new task force focused on inclusion and diversity.
Portnow, who didn’t seek a renewal on his contract which ends this year, seemed to address his words from last year during Sunday’s show.
“This past year I’ve been reminded that if coming face to face with an issue opens your eyes wide enough, it makes you more committed than ever to help address those issues,” he said.
British singer Dua Lipa alluded to Portnow’s 2018 words when she won best new artist.
“I guess this year we’ve really stepped up,” she said.
Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez speak during Sunday’s Grammys.
Cardi B accepts the rap album Grammy for “Invasion of Privacy.” Kacey Musgraves, who won four Grammys Sunday, performs.
Drake accepts the award for best rap song for “God’s Plan.”