By: Aidan Clarke, Staff Writer
The 2019 Grammy Awards were one of the most tumultuous in recent memory filled with all the drama one would expect when gathering some of the biggest names in music under one roof. At over four hours long, only a hard core music fan would have the resilience to watch the entire thing, but those who did were certainly rewarded with strong performances and a well executed show.
The show was hosted by Alicia Keys, who very professionally, kept the event moving along, while allowing key moments to develop. Keys was joined on stage by Michelle Obama, as well as Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith in the show’s opening moments. Obama was enormously popular, needing to pause her speech in order to allow the applause to die down, before beginning a tribute video to the enormous power of music.
Lady Gaga turned out to be one of the evenings biggest winners, returning to the stage to claim three awards, two of which were for “Shallow,” from the film “A Star is Born.” The audience was also treated to a brilliant performance of “Shallow.” However, her shining moment came as she delivered her speech on mental health, a topic which is so regularly ignored at events like the Grammys.
One bizarre twist came as Drake gave his speech after winning best rap song for “God’s Plan.” Drake chose to use the moment to give a speech that was a thinly veiled criticism of the Academy and of awards like the Grammys.
This is perhaps unsurprising, as the Grammys have regularly drawn the ire and contempt of many modern rap artists. What was surprising was that Drake was cut off in the middle of his speech. Producers later stated that it was an accident, and that Drake had been offered the opportunity to go back and finish, but he did not take it. This story seems rather dubious to me, because for the Grammys this would be a rather conveniently timed “accident.”
Cardi B continued her successful year, winning rap album of the year. This was her first grammy, and she became the first woman to win in this category. Women asserted themselves far more at the awards this year with British star and best new artist winner Dua Lipa openly criticizing the President of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow. Portnow made headlines last year for some comments regarding women in music, which led to the widespread hashtag: #GrammysSoMale. Ironically, Portnow was the next speaker, and he gave an address about gender equality and improving diversity.
One of the more disappointing aspects of this years Grammys was the sheer number of absentees. Childish Gambino, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Ariana Grande, are just a few of the notable personalities missing from the awards, which made things rather empty for a show claiming to be the biggest night in music.
That being said, the performances are the core of the Grammys, and this years did not disappoint. Alicia Keys put on a masterful show, with a performance ranging from covering songs by the Kings of Leon to performing here own “Empire State of Mind.” Her masterclass was a karaoke performance in which she played two pianos at once. Also enjoyable was a
performance by Diana Ross, a tribute to Dolly Parton, and Ricky Martin’s performance of “Havana” with Camila Cabella.
Despite the noteworthy absences, this year’s Grammys were an extremely enjoyable spectacle. For those who soldiered through the full four hours, it was certainly worth the investment, and hopefully 2019 will bring us another year of excellent music to enjoy.