The Highlights of the 2019 Grammy Awards

It was a major night for women, both those who attended and those who didn't.
Reading time 5 minutes

As always, a strong source of Grammys excitement was Lady Gaga. She stepped out on the red carpet in a custom gown from Hedi Slimane's Celine, and while it seems tame when one thinks back to her Golden Globes Valentino look, the silver gown and undone beauty created a picture of modern glamour. What's more, Gaga's minimal makeup connected to the emotion she felt about the show: she apparently already cried about the two awards she won pre-red carpet, and she got just as emotional for the third ("Shallow"'s on-air win for Pop Duo/Group Performance), giving a shoutout to Bradley Cooper and sharing a message of mental health awareness. With how excited the artist got at a ceremony where she's already won many times, her potential Oscars acceptance speech will surely be memorable.

With the Oscars going host-free this year, Alicia Keys was awards season's final major showrunner. She wore a series of killer jumpsuits, played two pianos at once during her medley, and humorously recounted when John Mayer won Song of the Year but broke the Grammy to split it with her. Keys highlighted the night's celebratory mood and female empowerment, refreshing amidst continued controversy in the entertainment industry.

Diana Ross turns 75 next month, so she used the Grammys for an over-the-top birthday celebration by performing some of her greatest hits. Raif-Henok Kendrick, Ross' 9-year-old grandson, introduced her, and the following medley was a reminder of the musician's legendary status, energizing the entire audience, especially daughter Tracee Ellis Ross. Not to mention, her scarlet gown was stunning.

The entertainment industry often underrepresents women, but last night's Grammys seemed to hint that the future is much more female. H.E.R. showed she's a real force in the making, taking away two awards (R&B Performance and R&B Album) on the strength of her first EP. Best New Artist went to Dua Lipa, celebrating her rising dance-floor reign that began with hit "New Rules." It was also a big night for women behind the scenes: Nija Charles, who is writing major hits at just 21, was behind multiple songs on two winning albums, Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy and Beyonce & Jay Z's Everything is Love. 

Cardi B was turning heads from the moment she walked on the red carpet, wearing archival Mugler couture from Fall 1995 and exchanging tongue affection with Offset, but her biggest moments would prove to be on the Grammys stage. She turned "Money" into a jazz club number with a piano intro, velvet seats, and an army of backup dancers, then proceeded to become the first solo female artist to win Best Rap Album. With such a major night, Cardi is definitely here to stay as the world awaits her next move.

The Grammys had a major absence, as Ariana Grande stayed home for unclear reasons. Still, as one of today's biggest artists, she kept a major presence all night. Grande won Best Pop Vocal Album, tweeted (and later deleted) about Mac Miller's Grammy loss, had a Memoji video premiere of "7 Rings," and posed on Instagram in the Zac Posen dress she would have worn if she attended. Talk about basically being at the awards show you avoided.

Michelle Obama has been in the public eye lately as she promotes her book Becoming, but her Grammys appearance showed the world still can't get enough. The former first lady spoke alongside a female crew including Gaga, Keys, Jennifer Lopez, and Jada Pinkett Smith, and her surprise appearance led to deafening applause from the moment she opened her mouth.

Ross wasn't the only legend on stage: Dolly Parton was the center of a tribute honoring her status as the 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year. Parton was on stage for most of it, performing hits with Kacey Musgraves, Katy Perry, and of course, goddaughter Miley Cyrus. The familial duo sang "Jolene," fitting since Cyrus has covered it multiple times and recently released "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart," which sounds a lot like the classic hit.

Olivier Rousteing debuted Balmain's return to couture after 16 years just the other week, but awards season means it's already appeared on the red carpet via both Katy Perry and Kylie Jenner. While these moments were more "Most Interesting" than "Best Dressed," the night showed that Rousteing's couture work is getting a lot of attention.

Kacey Musgraves has been quietly taking over since the release of Golden Hour, thanks to hits like "Butterflies" and "Space Cowboy" as well as a fashion sense that's captured unexpected audiences' attention. This year's Grammys turned out to be her big night, as the artist (who also provided the night's Valentino moment) took home four awards, including Album of the Year. It definitely seems people far beyond the world of country will be watching Musgraves from now on.

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