The 2018 Grammys didn’t quite go down as many prognosticators expected, with Bruno Mars sweeping more categories than oddsmakers predicted and the evening’s tone taking a decidedly more political bend than usual.
But hey, whether your fave lost or won, there were plenty of moments from performers and presenters (and an extremely surprising cameo) to keep things interesting. In no particular order, here are our 10 best and five worst moments from the 2018 Grammys.
The 10 Best Moments
P!nk Owns the Game
After years of (admittedly incredible) P!nk stunts on awards shows (we’ve put her on the side of a hotel, suspended her midair in most arenas and plopped her behind the wheel of a tractor) someone finally just let her walk up to a mic and sing a damn song. And considering she sounds incredible singing live while risking her life, you might think, “Well, she must sing even better when she’s not worried about plunging to her death.” And you would be right. She absolutely destroyed the Grammy vocal competition Sunday night, demonstrating why she’s truly a Pop GOAT.
Bruno and Cardi B’s Energy
“Finesse” is one of the most enjoyable songs to hit the airwaves in months, and when Bruno and Cardi took the stage together at MSG, it was basically the visual equivalent of sucking down three Pixy Stix and hopping into a plastic ball pit – sweaty, colorful and crazy fun.
Kendrick’s Presidential Prediction
After accepting rap album of the year for DAMN., Kendrick threw this wish into the ether: “JAY-Z for president!” Well, if he’s not gonna get any Grammys in 2018, maybe at least he can win the White House in 2020.
Fire and Fury Auditions
James Corden tapped Grammy winners and nominees to read segments of Michael Wolff’s incendiary Trump book Fire and Fury as an audition for the audio edition. This was a pre-taped comedy segment that worked, because 1) Cardi B stopped reading her passage to genuinely wonder aloud, “I can’t believe this. This is how he lives his life?” and 2) He scored Hillary Clinton to read the final passage. The nation’s jaw collectively dropped, and Twitter braced itself for an impending Trump tweetstorm the likes of which we haven’t seen in… OK, we see this stuff every 36 hours, but nevertheless, you know he’ll be fuming when he gets a whiff of it.
Chappelle Gets Real
During Kendrick’s homerun opener with U2, Dave Chappelle took the stage for the kind of joke that knocks the wind out of your stomach like a punch to the gut: “I just wanted to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America. Sorry for the interruption.”
Eva Peron Returns
After decades of feuding, Broadway legends Patti LuPone and Andrew Lloyd Webber buried the hatchet (but Patti presumably kept a map of where she put it) at the Grammys’ salute to the composer. Most singers can’t revisit roles and songs they did 39 years ago and sound as flawless as ever. But Patti LuPone is not most singers. Close your eyes during her “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” at the 2018 Grammys and you could believe it’s the same Patti who sang the Evita standout in all its bombastic glory in 1979. A singer’s singer.
Blue Ivy Shuts Down Her Parents
Even if your parents are JAY-Z and Beyonce, when you’re 6 years old, they’re still embarrassing to you. So Blue Ivy made a point to forcibly stop the Carters from clapping at one point during the show, apparently under the impression they were overdoing things a bit.
Blue Ivy is everything! #GRAMMYs pic.twitter.com/JSxtyGORhU
— billboard (@billboard) January 29, 2018
Camila’s Word to the DREAMers
The Grammys were more political than usual, but considering where the country is today, that’s hardly surprising. Camila Cabello, who recently hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200, shared her family’s immigration story during the broadcast. “Tonight, in this room full of music’s dreamers, we remember that this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers, chasing the American dream,” Cabello said. “I’m here on this stage tonight because, just like the DREAMers, my parents brought me to this country with nothing in their pockets but hope. They showed me what it means to work twice as hard and never give up. And honestly no part of my journey is any different from theirs.”
Comedy That Actually Landed
It was great to see Dave Chappelle, Sarah Silverman and Jim Gaffigan behind the mic at the Grammys. But Gaffigan wins for the best self-flagellating zinger: “I don’t know who I am either.”
Jon Batiste’s Ivory Tickling
The Chuck Berry/Fats Domino tribute was solid, but Colbert bandleader Jon Batiste stole that show with his fingers flying over the piano in tribute to fellow New Orleans pianist Fats Domino, the rock pioneer who died at 89 in 2017.
The 5 Worst
No Gold for Kesha?!
Unlike some awards shows, the Grammys don’t pick winners based on who is attending and/or performing. That being said, it still felt weird to give Kesha such a show-stopping moment for her timely “Praying” ballad and then shut her out of her categories. She deserved Grammy gold this year, and it’s a shame she couldn’t walk away from that performance with a trophy in hand, too.
Joy Villa’s Fashion
After walking the red carpet in a “Make America Great Again” dress last year, Joy Villa showed up at the 2018 ceremony flaunting a pro-life garment. Politics aside, the dress – which was white with a fetus painted on it, surrounded by a shabbily sketched rainbow – was just…super ugly.
Come on – Hov couldn’t get one award?
While Sting and Shaggy performing together was surprisingly lit, the Corden subway karaoke sketch felt forced… and it went on forever. Truly, an awards show in 2018 does not need two separate segments involving Sting and Shaggy.
The 2018 Grammys started strong but lagged toward the end — in no small part because they put three slow, melancholy moments one after the other in the final half-hour (the gentle Tom Petty homage, the In Memoriam montage and “1-800-273-8255”). All necessary moments, but one after the other left the viewer feeling extremely heavy already three hours into the night. Fortunately, Logic brought some fire to the Grammys when he took the mic and addressed everything from Trump’s “shithole countries” comment to the Time’s Up movement. That, at least, was a true highlight.