Sunday evening’s 61st Annual Grammy Awards left many viewers wide-eyed and nostalgic, despite its almost four-hour runtime. Throughout the evening there were many nods to some of the brightest moments in American music and history (including a cameo from a true American icon), peppered with performances from new artists who thoroughly impressed the crowd.
From Camila Cabello’s spicy opening to the rousing Motown tribute, here are a few of the most exciting moments of the evening.
Camila Cabello’s Cuban Inspired Opener
Camila Cabello gave viewers a steamy start to the show with a FOMO-inspiring rendition of her global hit “Havana” (I mean, who doesn’t want to hop on the next flight to Cuba after that?). Young Thug joined her on stage to represent East Atlanta (ooh, na na) with a casual swag that left a wee bit to be desired.
Still, Camila picked up the pace when she introduced the iconic Ricky Martin to join her on stage. As expected, he lit the stage on fire with his infamous hips and endlessly smooth moves. The performance reached a fever pitch when J. Balvin appeared on stage to perform a snippet of the fan-favorite anthem “Mi Gente.”
Alicia Keys Hosting 100% Makeup Free
2019 is the year of the “shake-up,” as award ceremonies have departed from traditional hosting formats. The Oscars stumbled into another bout of drama when they decided to forgo having a show host this year, but the Grammy’s took a turn possibly for the better when they decided not to have a comedian host this year’s event (James Corden MC’d the past two years).
In a 70s inspired look, Alicia Keys owned the stage for the evening and offered a positive and energetic vibe to kick-off the night. She later regaled the audience with a brief reminder of why they call her “keys,” when she introduced the audience to what she calls “Club Keys,” a jazzy interlude where she played two pianos at once and sang tribute songs to some of the most iconic artists in music history, including Lauryn Hill, Nat King Cole, and Coldplay. It was, undoubtedly, a welcome change that came with quite a few surprises.
Like, Michelle Obama’s Thrilling Cameo (!!)
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For me, a big part of friendship is showing up for your girls—whether that’s for a birthday, a quick catch-up after work, or a major milestone. So I was thrilled to be there for the one and only @aliciakeys at the #GRAMMYs. She is one of the most genuine, caring, and thoughtful people I know—there’s no one better to help us all celebrate the unifying power of music!
Alicia Keys casually introduced her “sisters” to join her on stage to help her open the show — and out sauntered Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, J. Lo and the one and only Michelle Obama. Talk about a sister circle! The women each shared the elements of music that have changed their lives for the better.
In an immediate best-dressed moment, wearing a stunning glittery silver pantsuit, Michelle Obama received a standing ovation when she began speaking about the influence of Motown Records and “songs about running the world” (a subtle nod to the noticeably absent Beyoncé).
“Music has always helped me tell my story,” she confessed. Based on her draw dropping look, fashion has also played quite the role in her story.
Cardi B’s Sensual Performance (and Hidden Tribute)
From the moment a badass woman sat at a diamond-encrusted piano playing the major chords to “Money,” we knew Cardi’s performance would be lit. The 20s-inspired set (and her costume, which looked like a homage to the iconic Josephine Baker) was juxtaposed against rows of dancers decked in shimmering black body suits rolling their way through a more sensual version of the hit record.
“Welcome to the Grammy’s,” Cardi interjected her own performance 30-seconds in, with a keen awareness that she truly was the moment we’d all been waiting for.
Meanwhile, her on-again husband was low-key all of us as he got VERY into her performance.
— theGrio.com (@theGrio) February 11, 2019
Diana Ross’ Tribute to Herself — and Her #HairGoals Grandson
Picture this iconic moment: In his perfect velvet maroon blazer, Diana Ross’ grandson (and hair twin) graced the stage with palpable frustration towards the announcer as he came out to introduce his grandmother. “Did she say ‘little guy?’ I’m four foot nine!” Once the frustration passed, he made sure to give his grandmother a warm welcome, saying, “Please welcome my grandmommy, Diana Ross.”
— E! News (@enews) February 11, 2019
Ms. Ross herself, a vision in head-to-toe red, then thrilled the audience while her family looked adoringly on. Everyone from Jaden Smith to A.Rod and Nipsey Hustle — and of course, Diana’s daughter Tracee — sang along and swayed back and forth to “Reach Out And Touch” while Diana shouted, “Happy Birthday to Me!”
J.Lo’s Multiple Motown Costumes
There’s no denying that J.Lo had all the fun when she gave us multiple looks and moments in Motown history despite the controversy. She opened up the medley of Motown’s greatest hits with a Diana Ross-inspired look before she quickly stripped down to a onesie to sing renditions of The Jackson 5’s biggest hits. In a fast-moving tribute, she was soon joined by Smokey Robinson for an adorable “My Girl” duet, before performing “Square Biz” in a pink, floor-length feathered vest.
She finished out the lightning-quick performance with an acrobatic salsa performance while Ne-yo played the piano she shimmed on top of and A-Rod looked on in adoration.
— KB (@thegirlschill_) February 11, 2019
Cardi B Again… And Her Adorable Acceptance Speech
The queen of all realness humbly accepted the award for Best Rap Album (as she made history as the first woman to win the award) at the end of the night while choking back tears, thanking all of the executives at Atlantic Records, and showing real love to her daughter and husband. While she stumbled through the speech due to nerves, she started by admitting, “maybe I should start smoking weed,” as an icebreaker.
Cardi’s win felt like a continued victory her standout two years producing and performing her debut album, Invasion of Privacy.