"Each year we present these artists in the most authentic way possible," Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge told guests at the start of the label's sixth annual Grammys showcase on Saturday (Feb. 9). "No filter, no MC, no long speeches." He was true to his word: UMG A-listers from Ella Mai to J Balvin took the stage at the downtown Los Angeles luncheon, providing a nonstop cascade of performances that included many Grammy-nominated hits.
Mai kicked things off with a steamy performance of her buzzing single "Shot Clock," before launching into -- what else? -- "Boo'd Up," her breakthrough hit that's up for both song of the year and best R&B song at this year's ceremony. YG burst in to disrupt the romance with a performance of his 2016 protest track "FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)," sans collaborator Nipsey Hussle. "Life is about making statements, so I felt like we had to do that today," the rapper explained, though 2 Chainz, joining the stage for a rendition of his 2012 hit "I'm Different," had a different version of the story: "He was really stressing about doing that 'fuck Donald Trump' shit."
Up next, country trio Midland performed their tongue-in-cheek hit "Drinkin' Problem," nominated for best country duo/group performance, while Lil Baby offered a speedy take on his Drake collaboration "Yes Indeed" -- all this to a crowd that included the likes of newlyweds Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra, Jessie Reyez and Maggie Rogers.