The real winners and losers of the 2019 Grammys
On Sunday night, CBS hosted the Super Bowl of the music industry (but really, more like the Pro Bowl: a chance for celebs to hangout and flex while the points and awards don't matter). Childish Gambino and Kacey Musgraves were the night's biggest winners, scoring four trophies each – but everybody knows the real winners of the night aren't found in any envelope.
Who actually won Sunday night's show? Who actually lost? And who actually thought that Will Smith CGI genie look was a good idea?
Here are the real winners and losers from the 2019 Grammys.
Who run the world? After The Recording Academy president Neil Portnow's exceptionally dumb comments about women needing to "step up" after only booking one female performer for last year's show, women owned the show – and the soon-to-be former president – Sunday night from start to finish.
Camilla Cabello opened the show with style and fun to burn, and Kacey Musgraves captured America's attention with both her solo performance and group tribute to Dolly Parton (surrounded by other female stars like Maren Morris, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus). Janelle Monae scorched TV sets across America with her mini-concert – complete with the vagina pants from her "Pynk" video – and Michelle Obama accidentally shut down the show while trying to get it started with fellow triumphant women Lady Gaga, host Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith. And that's not even talking about the many deserving women who took the stage to receive awards. Basically, if you're talking about a moment from last night's show, it's thanks to a woman.
So yes, Neil, they stepped up. They stole these Grammys – and they don't plan on giving it back.
Loser: Lady Gaga
So, uh, Lady Gaga made some choices with her performance of "Shallow" last night, no? Rocking a sparkly leotard and overdramatic herky-jerky rockstar moves, either Early Stardom Lady Gaga showed up for the first time in years and decided to go nuts during the song like an overzealous karaoke singer, or she was waiting for an Aerosmith tribute to start that never did. We are very much a Let Gaga Be Weird household ... but maybe not with this stripped-down, vocals-first song. Jack Maine would be very sad – partly because he peed himself, but also because of this excessive performance.
Speaking of excessive, can we also agree Lady Gaga breaking down with every award win is ... a bit much at this point? She won six Grammys before Sunday night, she's a beloved Super Bowl-headlining artist and she's been a regular award winner this season thanks to "A Star is Born" – the tear-soaked shock rings a little hollow.
But then again, I cry watching a really tasty episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on Cooking Channel, so who am I to judge.
Winner: Kacey Musgraves
Though you'd never know it thanks to country radio, Kacey Musgraves made her rise to country stardom complete Sunday night, winning Record of the Year for her critically-adored "Golden Hour" along with three other honors, tying her for the night's lead with Childish Gambino. Normally there's some grumbling about the night's big winners, but with Musgraves and Gambino, even music snobs and the cultural illuminati could walk away from Sunday night's ceremony pretty pleased.
As an added bonus, Musgraves was one of the few performers during the Dolly Parton tribute medley who understood the point of singing with other talent is to blend with it, not to blast everyone else out of the water. (Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, what you doing?) There may have been other people on that stage for that star-studded tribute, but there really were just two: Parton and Musgraves, a potential passing of the baton – though judging by that show, Parton's not going anywhere soon.
Loser: The "Aladdin" trailer
A few months ago, Disney unveiled its first look at its "Aladdin" update, playing very coy about how Will Smith would look as the famed big, blue genie. And Sunday night, we found out why:
"Aladdin": In theaters on May 24 and in your worst nightmares right now!
Listen, House of Mouse, if you're going insist on going creatively bankrupt and exclusively eating your own tail with these live-action remakes (or "live-action" in the case of "Lion King"), can you at least make them not look so freaking eye-meltingly ugly? As Daily Dot writer Gavia Baker-Whitelaw put so well last night:
These live-action Disney remakes have a unique ability to look both cheap AND way too expensive at the same time.— Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor) February 11, 2019
Now, if your first thought is "What did you expect Will Smith's CGenie to look like?", well, I didn't expect face-swapping Smith with mangled PS4 graphics of an unlicensed "Avatar" RPG. But most of all ... you know we don't HAVE to make another "Aladdin," right? And if we did, we don't HAVE to make it identical to the animated original? You could've redeveloped the character with a new, original vision. Or you could've just not remade "Aladdin." Disney, you got it right the first time!
But I suppose making a truly new "Aladdin" – or, and find a solid table or counter to brace yourself with, making an original movie – would've required thought and imagination and daring and creativity and literally the bare minimum of effort or care. And I guess that's simply too much to ask of the world's largest movie studio.
Oh, and because the people demand it:
Aladdin (2019) pic.twitter.com/53MLXfp6qf— Fred Delicious (@Fred_Delicious) February 11, 2019
First look at Will Smith as the Genie in the up coming live action Aladdin pic.twitter.com/yFLxrVJXv2— Xanny DeVito (@trevorstweetss) February 11, 2019
The sequel to Arrested Development looks terrible pic.twitter.com/8EmXDjRzZK— Matt Sheneman (@MattSheneman) February 11, 2019
Hey look, the Grammys finally recognized hip-hop! It only took (*checks watch*) too friggin' long, but a hip-hop artist finally won Song of the Year with Childish Gambino scoring the trophy for "This Is America," a very deserving and worthy choice to set that historical mark. Hip-hop then made even more history Sunday night with Cardi B becoming the first solo woman rapper to win Best Rap Album, earning the prize for "Invasion of Privacy." Nice to see the Grammys join us in 2019.
Loser: Everything that happened around Song of the Year
It's not very often you say about the Grammys, "Well, at least they got the winner right," but that's exactly what happened with everything around the Song of the Year award.
First of all, Keys told a VERY long story about losing in this very category in 2005 to John Mayer's "Daughters" (not one of the Grammys' finest picks) before reaching the punchline: Mayer coming up on stage to reveal that he broke the award in half to share it with the Keys. Because nothing says "this sacred award means a lot" like snapping it half like a cookie so someone else can have some.
The real mess, however, was still to come. After announcing Childish Gambino's "This is America" as the winner, clearly nobody except Mayer (who quickly said they'd accept the award on his behalf) knew he wasn't in attendance – and that included the production team, apparently. Since there was no acceptance speech to show, the cameras were stuck focusing on stage crew ushering Alicia Keys over to her next location – and whenever the crew is on screen, something's gone wrong.
Well, at least Donald Glover won – and maybe danced the night away with his own emoji clone.
Winner: Club Keys
Alicia Keys really snapped 🎹pic.twitter.com/yV5lIdCbJk— Complex (@Complex) February 11, 2019
I'm not sure where I land on Alicia Keys' debut turn as Grammys host. Part of me loved her easy-going, love-addicted chill; the other part of me wonders if knocking back the world's largest joint and an entire bottle of CBD oil before the show was the best idea.
But this much is certain: Club Keys, an extended segment dedicated to the Grammy-winner low-key jamming out covers with a piano on each hand, was a delight. I would watch an entire show of Alicia Keys just plinking away popular hits and warmly complimenting the people behind them. In fact, why did we have the Grammys when we could've done that?
Drake's Grammy acceptance speech is everything we needed to hear pic.twitter.com/Ygrx0mX4wy— Cozy❄️Boy (@CozyBoyOfficial) February 11, 2019
Coming up to accept the award for Best Rap Song with "God's Plan," Drake used his speech to talk about why you don't need validation – most of all from the stupid Grammys. "You don't need this," he preached, hoisting his newly received award. And so I guess the producers decided Aubrey Graham didn't need a microphone anymore and cut him right the heck off just as he was about to start the next part of his thanks. Drake: the most disrespectable respected name in rap.
Winner: Diana Ross
Only the Queen Supreme can pull the "I can't see/hear you!" crowd negging with an audience full of music's most famous people (and also Joy Villa) while also wishing herself a happy birthday in the middle of her own tribute. They just don't make divas like that anymore.
Loser: Post Malone and Red Hot Chili Peppers
It's a big time for horror movies – but no film has found a scenario so chill-inducing and terrifying as being stuck in a tight hallway alone with Post Malone, soundtracked by his drowsy hip-hop. The twist at the end of this nightmare? That wasn't a light at the end of the tunnel; it was Anthony Kiedis' haircut, either an ill-advised tribute to Sonny Bono or a bad fashion tip from an NFL owner. Truly haunting. The only cursed image this performance was missing was a swoll blue Will Smith.
Winner: Dua Lipa/St. Vincent fan fiction
Between Janelle Monae's sexed-up performance of the Prince riff "Make Me Feel" and the flirty duet between Dua Lipa and St. Vincent, a lot of viewers last night likely discovered something about themselves.
Loser: This guy
Me in literally any public setting pic.twitter.com/Upj369BFyx— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) February 11, 2019
If only there was a literal hook pulling him off the stage.
Winner: Cardi B – but mostly her pianist
👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽...Yez Yezz Yezzzzz‼️@ChloeFlower Ur Beauty Tonight Did NOT Take Away the🔥U Set to Those🎹...Fantastic Performance Luv...U are More Than Just "The Pianist that Played/Performed w/Cardi B" @Grammys, U Held Ur Own! #Respect #Artist #Pianist pic.twitter.com/Z7Nq8hhRn7— DoUnoMe🤔 (@HaYa_Artz) February 11, 2019
Safe to say Cardi B had a strong night. Her performance brought down the house – and brought the tongue out of Offset's mouth like a cartoon – she made history as the first solo woman to win Best Rap Album (surely sending Nicki Minaj into a tizzy somewhere), she wore a glamorous couture dress on the red carpet that made her look like a champagne bottle getting popped and her baby said "mama." Gonna call that all a win!
So let's shine a spotlight on her pianist, Chloe Flower, who managed to steal Cardi B's show at least for a little bit and gave the most exciting piano performance of the night – impressive considering a Grammy winner with the last name "Keys" played two pianos at one time.
Loser: The Oscars
Listen, the Oscars will score better TV ratings than the Grammys. (For all the hand-wringing about Oscar ratings, it's still the most watched live event outside of sports in an era where nobody watches TV the same way anymore.) Plus their awards actually mean something, even when they're comically wrong. But imagine watching the opening five minutes of the awards, with Camila Cabello throwing a great neighborhood dance party on stage, and thinking, "You know what our awards show needs? Less of stuff like this!"
The Academy Awards could REALLY learn something from the Grammys. The Grammys are imperfect, but they lean into what people watch for: the performances. The Oscars need to lean into what they are – over-the-top, excessive pomp – instead of cutting that away. Let all five nominated songs perform – in full! Present all the awards. Let people give messy speeches. Embrace what you are. You don't see the Grammys attempting to pretend they mean something. So why are the Oscars trying so hard to mean nothing?
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