You’ve just won a Grammy. As you battle an overflow of emotions, you’ve got about a minute to sum it all up to your peers and the Academy in Los Angeles, along with everyone watching at home. What do you say? Who do you thank? Got anything you’d like to get off your chest?
The 2019 Grammys are in the books, along with an evening of memorable quotes from the winners. Here are the speeches the music industry is likely to keep talking about.
The Bronx native has been making history since hitting the music industry and her acceptance speech for best rap album represented another major milestone along the way. Cardi B became the first female solo artist to win the category, and she approached the stage to accept her trophy with all the emotion you’d expect. And then some. “Babe, I can’t breathe,” were all the words she could get out at first, clucthing her partner Offset‘s hand. Her eyes filled with tears, she joked she might need to start smoking weed to take the edge off. Then, the realness came out:
“I want to thank my daughter. I’m not just saying thank because she’s my daughter. When I found out I was pregnant, my album was not complete. I had three songs I was for sure having. And you know how I was. We had to have this album done so I could shoot these videos but I’m still not showing. It was very long nights.”
Invasion Of Privacy was a major commercial and critical success upon release and now, Cardi’s well-earned Grammy and poignant speech further ensure its place in cultural lore.
As “God’s Plan” won best rap song, Drake was not content to salute the Academy and bask in Grammy glory. He’d hinted at a less-than-smitten relationship with the ceremony before, declining to attend last year and questioning the Grammys’ understanding of hip-hop culture after winning two trophies in 2016. This time, he questioned the Grammys’ validity from the show itself.
“This is an opinion-based sport,” he said of the music industry. “This is a business where, sometimes, it’s up to a bunch of people who might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada has to say, or what a fly Spanish girl from New York, or a brother from Houston.”
After shouting out Travis Scott, he continued: ”The point is, you’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero from your hometown, if there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows — you don’t need this right here. I promise you, you already won.”
Before he could offer any more existential critique of Grammy validation, his mic appeared to be cut off, both inside the Staples Center and on CBS’ live broadcast.
After “Shallow” won the night’s first televised award — best pop duo/group performance — an emotional Lady Gaga shouted out Bradley Cooper (who was over at the BAFTAs overseas) and addressed the crucial messages of A Star Is Born. “I’m so proud to be part of a movie that addresses mental health issues,” Gaga said. “A lot of artists deal with that. And we’ve gotta take care of each other. So if you see somebody that’s hurting, don’t look away. And if you’re hurting, even though it might be hard, try to find that bravery within yourself to dive deep and go tell somebody and take them up in your head with you.”
Minutes before Neil Portnow gave his annual Grammys speech, best new artist winner Dua Lipa tossed some shade at the outgoing Recording Academy president’s controversial comments from last year.” What an honor it is to be nominated alongside so many great female artists,” the pop singer said. “I guess this year we really stepped up.”
It took until almost the very end of the Grammys telecast for anyone with a mic onstage to acknowledge 21 Savage, who despite his two nominations, could not be present because of his detention at the hands of ICE. In accepting the record of the year Grammy for “This Is America” on Childish Gambino’s behalf, Ludwig Goransson, co-producer of the politically insurgent track, briefly nodded to 21: “He should be here tonight.”