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Grammy Awards

2019 Grammys Celebrate a Big Year for Women

Kasey Musgraves, H.E.R. and Gaga all collected awards, while Cardi B snagged album of the year.

Adam Shay

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On a night starting with Michelle Obama and ending with Golden Hours winning Album Of The Year, the 61st GRAMMY Awards ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. lasted three hours and 37 minutes Sunday night.  

The show began with a monologue from artists, actresses, and political figures: Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, host Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama, and Jennifer Lopez. The five women emphasized music appreciation, including Obama saying that, “Music has always helped me tell my story,” which drew a standing ovation.

Country artist Kacey Musgraves edged out other Grammy winners on the night such as Drake, Cardi B, and Brandi Carlile. Musgraves won Grammys for Best Country Song (“Space Cowboy”) and Best Country Solo Performance (“Butterflies.”)  She performed her song “Rainbows” as well.

In the other main categories, Childish Gambino swept the individual song categories with “This Is America,” winning the Grammy for Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year. Nominated for five awards, Gambino walked away with two more Grammys for Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Music Video.

The 21-year-old artist H.E.R. was another multi-Grammy winner, nominated for five Grammys and winning two of them. H.E.R. took home awards for Best R&B Performance (“Best Part” featuring Daniel Caesar) and Best R&B album (H.E.R). She took the stage and performed “Hard Times,” as well, kicking the song off by playing a see-thru electric guitar. 

Lady Gaga had a huge year with the critically acclaimed movie A Star Is Born. “Shallow,” a duet from the soundtrack with Bradley Cooper — who was unable to attend the ceremony — won two Grammys (Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Song Written For Visual Media). “Shallow” was also nominated for Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year.

Gaga performed “Shallow” during the show, altering her ballad into a rock song with a lead electric guitar. She also won the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance with her song “Joanne (Where Do You Thunk Your Going?).” 

Dua Lipa took the award for Best New Artist and had a duet performance with St. Vincent, singing a mash-up of Lipa’s hit single “One Kiss” and St. Vincent’s “Masseduction.” “Masseduction” earned St. Vincent the Grammy for Best Rock Song.

In the Pop category, there was a 60-year age difference between two award winners: The 85-year-old Willie Nelson won the award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (My Way, an album dedicated to Frank Sinatra), while 25-year-old superstar Ariana Grande won Best Pop Vocal Album for Sweetener. 

This year marked Motown’s 60th anniversary as the Grammys celebrated Motown icons, bringing out Smokey Robinson, Ne-Yo, and Lopez to perform “Dancing In The Streets.” In honor of her upcoming 75th birthday, Lifetime Achievement Award winner Diana Ross performed “The Best Years of My Life”and “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand).” She ended her performance by shouting, “Happy birthday to me,” in her long red dress. 

DJ Avicii, rapper Mac Miller, and Aretha “The Queen of Soul” Franklin were among those artists whose passing last year was noted. To honor Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Fantasia, and Andra Day had the last performance of the night, singing her soul anthem “(You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman.”

Despite losing out on the Album of the Year statue, Carlile left the Grammys winning in three of six categories: Best Americana Album, Best Americana Roots Song, and Best American Roots Performance. Presented by artist Kelsey Ballerina, Carlile had the opportunity to perform her Grammy award winning song “The Joke.”

Drake was also nominated for Album Of The Year (Scorpion), Song and Record Of The Year, and despite not taking home any of those, “God’s Plan” won him the Grammy for Best Rap Song. Cardi B won Best Rap Album for Invasion of Privacy, followed by an emotional and humorous speech and accompanied by rapper Offset from Migos.

Cardi was also nominated for Record Of The Year for “I Like It” featuring Bad Bunny and J. Balvin. The Grammy for Best Rap Performance ended in a tie between “King’s Dead” by Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future, and James Blake, and “Bubblin” by Anderson .Paak. 

There was another tie in the Best Traditional R&B Performance between “Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand” (Leon Bridges) and “How Deep Is Your Love” (PJ Morton featuring Yebba). Bridges was also nominated for Best R&B Album (Good Thing), and Morton received two other nominations for Best R&B Album with Gumbo Unplugged (Live) and Best R&B Performance “First Began.”

Greta Van Fleet burst onto mainstream airwaves with their Led Zeppelin-derived sound in 2018, and the Recording Academy responded by nominating them in four categories: Best New Artist, Best Rock Song, (“Black Smoke Rising”) Best Rock Performance (“Highway Tune”) and Best Rock Album (From The Fires). Album was the only win for the band.

In total, 18 performances went down on Sunday, ranging from individual to collaborations of different genres — specifically Post Malone playing guitar with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The artist and band fit three shortened songs into their performance: “Stay,” Grammy nominated “Rockstar,” followed by “Dark Necessities,” a Red Hot Chili Peppers song.

Malone was nominated for four Grammys on the night: Album Of The Year (Beerbongs and Bentleys), Record Of The Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance (“Rockstar featuring 21 Savage”) and Best Pop Solo Performance (“Better Now”).

The Grammys made sure of having multiple different genres represented throughout. Cardi B and Travis Scott performed their rap hits, Dolly Parton and Dan+Shay were the country acts, and Janelle Monáe brought a futuristic dance party. Monáe’s album Dirty Computer was also nominated for Album Of The Year.

A host of awards were not announced live. Grammy favorite Beck took home the Grammy for Best Alternative Album for Colors. Dan+Shay won Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Tequila,” which they performed.

“The Middle” by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey was nominated for three Grammys but came away with no victories. 

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Adam Shay is a graduate from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, During his four years at EIU, he wrote for the Daily Eastern News for two and a half years, covering multiple sports, news events, and writing feature stories. He was also on the rugby club team for two years, a member of the Society of Collegiate Journalists, and finished third in applying for his commencement speech. Currently, he runs a public relations system for a bar in Palatine, Illinois, and in his free time, he is always learning about music, sports history, and American history.

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