2019 Grammys: The 5 Best And 5 Worst Moments

During the 2018 Grammys, Alessia Cara took home Best New Artist. According to TIME, the newcomer was the only woman presented with a "major award." In response to the obvious criticism that launched the #GrammysSoMale hashtag, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow told Variety, in part, that women needed to "step up." 

Enter the 61st Grammy Awards, where women won all for major album categories for the first time in history (Album Of The Year: Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour, Pop: Ariana Grande, Sweetener, Country: Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour, R&B: H.E.R., Self-titled, Rap: Cardi B, Invasion of Privacy) "I guess this year we really stepped up," Dua Lipa said backstage (via The New York Times) after nabbing the Best New Artist award. Challenge accepted, Portnow.

Drake also won a Grammy for his hit "God's Plan" then basically told the audience Grammys don't matter. Way to kill the vibe, Drake. But what else happened? Let's shuffle on the playlist and find out the 5 best and 5 worst things that happened at the 2019 Grammys.

Best: Michelle Obama's surprise appearance

Go big or go home, right? The 61st Grammy Awards opened with a surprise appearance by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Joined on stage with Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez, and host Alicia Keys, Obama spoke over thunderous applause about the power of music in her life.

"From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side, to the 'who run the world' songs that fueled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story. And I know that's true for everybody here," Obama said. "Whether we like country, or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves — our dignity and sorrows, our hopes and joys," she continued. "It allows us to hear one another, to invite each other in."

The five powerful ladies took a photo backstage that Obama posted to Twitter. "A big part of friendship is showing up for your girls — that's why I was thrilled to be there for the one and only @aliciakeys at the #GRAMMYs," she wrote. "She is one of the most genuine and thoughtful people I know — there's no one better to help us all celebrate the unifying power of music!"

Worst: Ariana Grande vs Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich

Before the Grammys aired, there was already drama. On Feb. 5, 2019, Variety reported that Ariana Grande declined a chance to perform at the Grammys after she felt "insulted" that the producers would not allow her to perform "7 Rings." However, per USA Today, Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich said Grande didn't perform because she "felt it was too late for her to pull something together." Grande had some words. 

"I've kept my mouth shut, but now you're lying about me," Grande tweeted. "I can pull together a performance overnight, and you know that, Ken. It was when my creativity & self expression was stifled by you, that I decided not to attend. I hope the show is exactly what you want it to be and more." The singer went on that she'd offered to perform three different songs, but none were accepted. "It's just a game y'all.. and I'm sorry, but that's not what music is to me."

"I saw those tweets and what she said. I guess it was a surprise," Ehrlich told Rolling Stone. "I will say this, and they don't want me to say it, but I'm going to say it: The thing that probably bothered me more than whatever else she said about me is when she said I'm not collaborative." Grande won Best Pop Vocal Album for Sweetener but didn't show up to accept the award. She posed in her Grammy dress at home on Instagram instead.

Best: The Dolly Parton tribute had the crowd wild

In what was perhaps the most raucous moment of the night, country music legend and MusiCares Person of the Year Dolly Parton, took the stage with Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, and Little Big Town to perform a medley of the icon's greatest hits. Although she was joined on stage by young stars, the 73-year-old's powerful voice and stage presence relegated them to backup singer duties as the standing crowd sang along.

A quick look through Twitter will let you know that Dolly Parton is a national treasure that transcends musical genres. "I claim '9 to 5' as rap music. Dolly was barred up," New York Magazine music critic Craig Bro Dude tweeted. "Imagine getting told 'bless your heart' by Dolly Parton. I think you have to immediately move to Antarctica, and even there, be shunned by the penguins," Sporting News' Jesse Spector wrote.

Parton accepted her MusiCares award on the Friday night before the Grammys, and her acceptance speech was classic Dolly. "All of my life I have been known for two things. Well, not them," she joked (via Fox News). "I've also been known as a singer and songwriter too. Although I'm not complaining. Ol' Pancho and Lefty's been pretty good to me. Everybody always expects me to do a boob joke and I like to do that right up front."

Worst: All the great performances we missed

While the 61st Grammys had several memorable performances, we're going to talk about what might have been. Not only did we miss out on Ariana Grande, producer Ken Ehrlich told The New York Times that Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino all clicked no on their invites. This shouldn't come as a surprise since the Grammys have taken a beating recently over failing to keep up with the changing musical landscape.

Jay Z and Beyonce skipped the awards show after dissing the Grammys in the hit song, "Apesh*t." Childish Gambino was up for five awards and didn't bother attending. Grammys, we have a problem. "The fact of the matter is, we continue to have a problem in the hip-hop world," Ehrlich told The Times. "When they don't take home the big prize, the regard of the academy, and what the Grammys represent, continues to be less meaningful to the hip-hop community, which is sad."

To the Grammys' credit, they handed the Song of the Year award to Gambino's "This Is America," making it the first rap song in Grammys history to take home that trophy, according to Slate

Diana Ross

Legendary R&B and soul singer Diana Ross celebrated her birthday onstage and performed two of her biggest hits: "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "The Best Years of My Life." Preceded by an Alicia Keys-narrated video of Ross' career and an introduction by her 9-year-old grandson, Ross let the crowd know why she's a living icon.

"That was extraordinary. I feel so grateful to have had a front row seat to witness a woman on her 75th birthday be better at everything than I will ever be," actress Anna Kendrick tweeted. The Atlantic's Jemele Hill added, "This is Diana Ross in all her glory. Definitely captain of the I Make A Mean Potato Salad All-Star team."

At the end of her performance, Ross told the crowd (via The New York Times): "Together we have no limits. You can learn, dream, unlock new doors. All is possible. Happy birthday to me!" Ross' 75th birthday is actually in March. "Diana Ross wished herself a happy bday in front of a national audience. Diana Ross bday (sic) is March 26th. We Stan," The Ringer's Tyler R. Tynes tweeted. Yes. Yes, we do.

Worst: So about that 'Aladdin' teaser

On Dec. 19, 2018, Entertainment Weekly revealed the first photos of Will Smith as the Genie in the live-action remake of the Disney classic, Aladdin. He was not blue. The reactions were, shall we say, mixed. Smith reassured fans that his Genie would indeed be blue and "CGI most of the movie" on Instagram. We can't say he didn't warn us.

During the Grammys, the second teaser for Aladdin dropped, and Will Smith was blue as promised. We have nightmare fuel, guys. "Will Smith genie is what appears in my room when I have sleep paralysis," YouTuber Jenny Nicholson tweeted. "Honestly the Will Smith genie feels like a spoiler for BIRD BOX because I finally understand what image would make them so fascinated but also want to kill themselves," The New York Times' Kyle Buchanan quipped.

We're attempting to remain positive here, but Aladdin hits theaters May 24, 2019, and we've yet to see a full trailer. That can't be a good sign.

Best: Kacey Musgraves' improbable win

Despite going up against musical heavyweights like Cardi B, Drake, Post Malone, and Janelle Monáe for the coveted Album Of The Year, country music star Kacey Musgraves' Golden Hour took home the award — despite receiving no radio airplay from country radio, presumably for being too liberal. She was as shocked as everyone else.

"I know that winning this doesn't make my element any better than anyone else's in that category. They're all so good," the "Butterflies" singer said in her acceptance speech. "Life is pretty tumultuous right now for all of us. I feel like it can feel that way. ... Because of that, art is really thriving and it's really beautiful to see that. Thank you for championing mine," she concluded. "I would have nothing without songs. It's all about the songs."

When asked backstage if a Grammy win would get her more radio airplay (via Fox News), Musgraves replied, "To me, radio isn't necessarily the mark of what makes good music." A more accurate statement has never been spoken.

Worst: J. Lo's Motown tribute

The Grammys normally take place during Black History Month — and The 61st Grammy Awards wanted to do a tribute to the historic black record label Motown. So they asked ... Jennifer Lopez? The latin singer-actress tore through a medley of Motown hits including "Dancing Machine" and "Dancing in the Street," but social backlash came quickly and severely (and memes were created in the audience). 

"JLo is an amazing artist... who I love! But she was not right person for the Motown tribute... and the salsa dance near the end of her performance proved that. Name 1 Motown artist who salsa danced," Queer Eye's Karamo Brown tweeted. "John gotta take my phone," Chrissy Teigen, who was live-tweeting the show, wrote.

However, Motown legend Smokey Robinson hit back at criticisms over Jennifer Lopez headlining the tribute. I don't think anyone who is intelligent is upset," he told Variety's Marc Malkin at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party. "I think anyone who is upset is stupid." Robinson, who performed alongside Lopez during the tribute, claimed the "Jenny From The Block" singer had credibility since she grew up in the Bronx. "Motown was music for everybody. Everybody," he continued. "Who's stupid enough to protest Jennifer Lopez doing anything for Motown?"

Best: Cardi B's historic win

Cardi B made history at the 61st Grammys as the first female solo artist to win Rap Album of the Year for her debut album, Invasion of Privacy. It was also her first ever Grammy win. Be sure to take a mental note of that for trivia. The "Bodak Yellow" rapper was visibly emotional and fought back tears as she took the stage.

"I can't breathe. Oh, my goodness, child," she said. "The nerves. I am so bad. Maybe I need to start smoking weed. I just want to say thank you everybody that was involved." Cardi B went on to thank her 6-month old daughter Kulture for giving her the motivation to finish her album. "It's because, you know, when I found out I was pregnant, my album was not complete, I had like three songs that I was for sure having. And then you know, you know how it was, like, we was like, we have to get this album done so I could shoot these videos while I'm still not showing. And it was very long nights."

Worst: Ariana Grande's questionable live tweets

While everyone seemed pleased that Cardi B won Rap Album Of The Year, Ariana Grande appeared to be upset that her late ex-boyfriend Mac Miller was passed over for the award in a series of since-deleted tweets (per The Fader). "trash," she tweeted, as Cardi B was announced the winner. "f**k," she continued, followed by "literal bulls**t."

Some thought she was referring to Cardi's win, but Grande clarified that it had "nothing to do w her" and all about the Grammys inviting Miller's parents to to ceremony then not giving him the award. "This. This is what I meant. Karen (Miller's mother) was gonna have a green suit made." She added, "He slept in the studio for two months." Mac Miller passed away on Sept. 7, 2018, of a drug overdose at the age of 26. After fans called her out, Grande responded, "good for her. i promise. i'm sorry," per the Daily Mail.

To her credit, Cardi B showed love to Mac Miller and his family while celebrating backstage after her historic win. "I read an article that Mac Miller family said that if he don't win, they want me to win; so I'm sharing this Grammy with you motherf***er! Rest in peace!" she said in an Instagram video.