The Best and Worst Moments of the 2019 Grammys

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards went down on Sunday night. To make sense of it all, the Complex staff has put together a list of the best (and worst) moments.

cardi b offset getty kevin winter

Image via Getty/Kevin Winter

cardi b offset getty kevin winter

Heading into the 61st Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night, there was hope in the air that the Recording Academy would turn things around and fix some of their weaknesses from the past. The nominations in the hip-hop awards were better than they'd been in years, and the Academy announced that they had formed a task force on diversity and inclusion to help fix a historical lack of female representation.

The awards show itself was a mixed bag. The night started off strongly with onstage appearances that ranged from Young Thug to Michelle Obama. But there were also sore spots, like the fact that it took until the end of the night for anyone to discuss 21 Savage's ICE detainment (shout out to Ludwig Göransson for taking time out of his acceptance speech to mention his name). To make sense of it all, the Complex staff has put together a list of the best (and worst) moments from the 2019 Grammys. 

Worst: Grammys cut Drake's acceptance speech short

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Drake was saying something important during his Best Rap Song speech: When it comes to rap music, the Grammys aren’t important. For years, the Academy has awarded the genre incorrectly, constantly overlooking the artists that should win for the more popular acts. This year was no different: Cardi B winning Best Rap Album, Childish Gambino winning Song of the Year and Record of the Year, and even Drake winning Best Rap Song can all be seen as the more popular acts winning over more deserved ones. Rap will always have a love/hate relationship with the Academy because while Grammys are cool, white acceptance isn’t. "You’ve already won if you have people singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown," Drake said. "Look, if there's people who have regular jobs coming out in the rain, in 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." In response, the Grammys cut his mic. Monday morning, the Academy's PR firm said they cut to commercial because there was a "natural pause" and they thought Drake was finished, but the moment came across as an instance of unnecessary censorship. You can see the full clip and decide for yourself below. —Angel Diaz

Talk that talk

— Complex (@Complex) February 11, 2019

Worst: Post Malone's missed opportunity at shouting out 21 Savage during “Rockstar”

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Post Malone wasn’t the only 21 collaborator who neglected to mention the rapper’s ICE detainment on music’s biggest night, but his failure to do so had an extra sting to it. 21 was originally supposed to perform “Rockstar,” for which both artists were nominated, with Post on the Grammys stage. Unfortunately, he missed the opportunity to call attention to the grave injustice, which is still a reality for 21 and thousands of other voiceless immigrants, save for wearing a T-shirt with 21’s name on it while backstage. Later, 21 Savage's manager tweeted, “We reached out to several artists to perform Savage’s verse and/or stand in solidarity on stage on his behalf.” File this one under “disappointed but not surprised.” —Carolyn Bernucca

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Worst: Ariana Grande's first Grammy wasn't televised

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Best: Cardi B's acceptance speech

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In my honest and humble opinion, Cardi B had the best moments of the 2019 Grammy Awards: She stunted in vintage couture both on the red carpet and on the stage; she delivered fire choreography and dramatic theatrics during her performance; and she won Best Rap Album, marking the first time this has ever happened for a solo female rapper. Her night couldn’t have been any more of a Cinderella story, especially given the fact that most people thought she was a fluke after “Bodak Yellow” went brazy in 2017. That song was enough to land her two nominations at last year’s Grammys, but no wins. This year, she was given five additional nods, and she finally struck gold. For all who have been following Cardi since her “A hoe never gets cold” days, it was a major fucking look. From the moment they called her name as the winner, to the final second of her acceptance speech, she was the definition of shook. In the end, she was able to weave together humor (“Maybe I should start smoking weed!”) and heartfelt messages (“I want to thank my daughter Kulture”), making it clear that while she’s grateful, she hustled her way into the history books. —Kiana Fitzgerald

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Best: Michelle Obama's appearance

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Alicia Keys opened the show by helping women everywhere give former Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow a hefty “fuck you,” for his comments last year about women needing to “step up” if they want to be included and awarded. (More on that elsewhere.) Alicia assembled an esteemed squad, comprised of Jada Pinkett-Smith, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and the very special Michelle Obama, all of whom gave beautiful speeches about why women belong in music, and what influence music has on the lives of women. But before Michelle could get out a complete sentence, the entire crowd lost its shit, screaming like they were guests on Oprah during one of her infamous Favorite Things episodes. If I might be honest for a second: The reaction brought to mind a small-scale example of Michael Jackson’s effect at the height of his popularity. Michelle Obama at the Grammys in 2019 = Michael Jackson at the Super Bowl in 1993. I said what I said. —Kiana Fitzgerald

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Best: Kanye West's Young Thug Grammys dream came true

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Back in 2016, Kanye West tweeted, "We need to see Young Thug at the Grammys. Not just me and Jay in a suit." Three years later, his vision for the Grammys came true and Thug opened the evening with a performance of "Havana" alongside Camila Cabello. To top off his big night, Thugger also took home his first Grammy for his vocal contributions to Childish Gambino's "This Is America," which was recognized as Song of the Year. Congrats, Jeffery! —Eric Skelton

Best: Cardi B's performance (and piano player)

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From the opening seconds of Cardi B’s performance of “Money,” Twitter had just one question: Who is that piano player? Chloe Flower’s killer playing and stage presence elevated Cardi’s number into one of the highlights of the telecast. It was strong enough to make us forget about Offset’s tongue-out reaction. Well, maybe not that strong, but close. —Shawn Setaro

Best: Alicia Keys' dual piano performance

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From a hosting standpoint, Alicia Keys did a pretty decent job. As we all know by now, hosting any kind of award show takes a Herculean effort, especially when it’s live. And Alicia managed to help a fou rhour night slip by into a whole ‘nother day. (Oh, was that the mechanics of time itself? My bad.) She had moments that were unintentionally hilarious, like when she roped us into her imaginary late-night juke joint, Club Keys, and said words that can never be un-uttered: “Swizzy, do you love me?” The world collectively cringed, but Alicia more than made up for it when she had two pianos wheeled out, and proceeded to play them at the same damn time. It was the most mesmerizing moment of her hosting duties, and it was made all the more special by the fact that, during Black History Month, Alicia brought back dual piano playing as a tribute to the late Hazel Scott, a groundbreaking musician who was largely underappreciated during her life because of her unwavering stance on social justice and civil rights issues. —Kiana Fitzgerald

Alicia Keys really snapped 🎹

— Complex (@Complex) February 11, 2019

Best: Diana Ross wished herself a happy birthday a month and a half before her actual birthday

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Diana Ross turned her birthday into a lifestyle at the Grammys with a beautiful tribute by herself, to herself, in celebration of her own 75th (yes, really) birthday—which isn’t for another six weeks. Big Aries energy. —Carolyn Bernucca

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Best: Travis Scott redeemed himself after his Super Bowl performance

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Travis Scott got a fair amount of flack for his decision to appear on the Super Bowl LLLIII halftime show, given that the NFL is still blackballing Colin Kaepernick. But any goodwill he might have lost from that performance, he got back on Sunday night with a killer performance. Alongside Mike Dean, James Blake, and, in a bizarre but somehow perfectly fitting choice, members of Earth, Wind & Fire, Travis went from sensitive and introspective to all-out raging in just a few minutes, and capped it all off with a stage dive. Even though Drake was in the house, once Trav was finished tearing the stage up, “Sicko Mode” was not missed. —Shawn Setaro

Best: Dua Lipa's "I guess this year we’ve really stepped up" speech

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In her acceptance speech for the Best New Artist Grammy, Dua Lipa came out guns blazing. “I want to begin by saying how honored I am to be nominated alongside so many incredible female artists this year,” she said. “I guess this year we’ve really stepped up!” Lipa was likely calling back to Grammy chief Neil Portnow’s 2018 assertion that “[Women] who want to be musicians, engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level [need] to step up.” She snapped! —Carolyn Bernucca

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Best: Pusha-T says his Complex 'Best Rapper Alive' recognition was better than his Grammy nomination

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In the Complex office, the best moment of the night came before the awards ceremony even began. Asked by Billboard if his Grammy nomination was a bigger accomplishment than being named 2018's Best Rapper Alive by Complex, Pusha-T answered, "Man, I'm gonna have to say, 'Greatest Rapper Alive.' The 'Greatest Rapper Alive' is a super big accomplishment. As a rapper, as a lyricist, as a writer, that's near and dear to my heart." Read our interview with Pusha-T about being named the Best Rapper Alive here. —Eric Skelton

We see you, @PUSHA_T! 🏆

(via @billboard)

— Complex (@Complex) February 11, 2019

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