The biggest talking points of the 2019 Grammys, from BTS making history to Drake’s interrupted speech

The annual awards ceremony was full of big moments

It seems like not a Grammys goes by without some kind of controversy or big moment that sets the internet into overdrive. In the days ahead of the 2019 Grammys, it might have seemed like all the chat would be about who wasn’t there, with a number of artists turning down performances or pulling out of attending altogether. There were plenty of other big moments on the night, though, from K-pop stars BTS breaking yet more new ground on the western scene to whether the Grammys had fixed its issue with women.

Drake, interrupted

Drake isn’t the Grammys’ biggest fan and he’s made that pretty clear over the years. So it was a surprise, especially given he essentially boycotted the event last year, that he made an appearance tonight. Yet there he was, picking up his award for Best Rap Song for ‘God’s Plan’, seemingly feeling a little more generous towards the Recording Academy in 2019. Or perhaps not, as his speech centered around telling artists they didn’t need to win awards to be successful or considered winners. Any seeds of good feeling will now likely have been completely decimated as Drizzy’s mic was cut mid-speech, not just on TV but reportedly in the arena too.

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We’re not saying the Grammys definitely cut him off because of the content of his speech – which, as a side note, was full of completely valid points relevant to any kind of contest and not just tonight’s ceremony. Dua Lipa also got her speech cut off later in the night as the show began to run out of time, but Drake wasn’t even played the “wrap it up” music. Maybe it’s all a big misunderstanding made unfortunately conspicuous given the star’s words could be considered a diss. If that’s the case, next year the Academy might want to look at spending less time on patting themselves on the back (as they did with a not insignificant tribute to exiting CEO Neil Portnow) and give their artists a bigger chance to speak – especially when they’re saying something worthwhile.

Red Hot Chili Peppers and Post Malone – the collab no one needed

Reading the names Red Hot Chili Peppers and Post Malone on a list of performers is already bad enough, but seeing they’ll be performing together is another thing entirely. In the beginning, we had Posty, alone on a stool, wailing away as he strummed on an acoustic guitar. It was rough and raw in a way the Grammys rarely are, but also not exactly great. Then, he hopped off his stool and went for a wander while singing ‘Rockstar’, faring a bit better as he did so. That is until he came across RHCP and they all launched into, of all songs, ‘Dark Necessities’ and took us all to a very dark, dire place and scrambling for the mute button.

It was a performance that left us with some questions. 1) Why? 2) Who’s bright idea was this? 3) But really, WHY? and 4) If you’re going to force this kind of monstrosity on people, why wouldn’t you at least play a classic banger rather than a latter-day single no one really cares about?

21 Savage’s absence loomed large

At present, 21 Savage is still detained for violating the terms of his non-immigrant visa. All eyes were on stars at the Grammys to call out ICE and show their support for the rapper but only one person did. That figure was Ludwig Göransson, a composer and producer who collected Childish Gambino‘s award for Record Of The Year on Donald Glover’s behalf. “21 Savage, you should be here tonight,” he said during his speech, addressing what some of the star’s collaborators had forgotten to mention. Post Malone, in particular, has been criticised for not shouting out his ‘Rockstar’ collaborator, although TMZ reports he was seen wearing a t-shirt with the artist’s name on backstage – although it might have been a more effective move if it’d had been seen on camera.

BTS make history (again)

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They might only have been up for one award in the pre-telecast show tonight (February 10), but in many ways the big winners of the night were K-pop stars BTS. Twitter was alight the whole night with gifs, memes, and video clips of the Korean boy band having the most fun out of anyone in the whole of the Staples Center, shared by ARMYs and non-fans alike. Their appearance at the ceremony highlighted one of the reasons why they’ve become so popular, aside from their music – their charming personalities and undeniable passion for all things music. So, tonight, we were treated to them dancing away to Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’, singing along to H.E.R.’s great performance, and generally looking like they were in heaven any time the camera panned to them.

But the night belonged to them for reasons other than having a good time. They also made history tonight (as they’ve made a habit of doing) by becoming the first Korean artists to set foot on stage at the Grammys – a win for both them and representation, particularly when Asian artists often get overlooked in those conversations. They presented the award for Best R&B Album, with leader RM sending a message to fans before announcing the nominees: “We’ll be back.” At this point, that already seems a certainty.

The issue of women and the Grammys

Last year, Grammys CEO Neil Portnow found himself in a tight spot after he suggested not many women had won awards because they needed to “step up” their game. The backlash was wide and the Recording Academy had to address the unbalance at this year’s ceremony if they wanted to avoid yet more controversy. Happily, this year’s event was much more diverse than previous years, with women dominating in the performances and in the major categories.

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Emily Lazar became the first female master engineer to pick up an award at the Grammys and Alicia Keys was the first female host since Queen Latifah in 2005. The shot was teed up all night, waiting for someone to take it and, as the night drew to a close someone did. “I guess where I want to begin is by saying how honoured I am to be nominated alongside so many really incredible female artists this year,” said Dua Lipa collecting her award for Best New Artist. “I guess this year we’ve really stepped up.” An absolute home run. 

Alicia Keys excels as host

The last couple of years at the Grammys have been ones presided over by James Corden, a man who is so unfathomably popular in America that they asked him to host more than once. This year, they opted for a musician to take the reins and it proved to be a solid choice. Alicia Keys excelled at the helm – warm, natural, and even able to make some obvious pandering to women after Neil Portnow’s comments last year feel like it wasn’t a calculated attempt to avoid any similar controversies.

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