Lady Gaga, Camila Cabello, and more bring down the Grammys house
From Camila Cabello scaling the replicated streets of Havana with Ricky Martin to vocal highways paved by Lady Gaga’s and Janelle Monáe’s soaring pipes, the performers at the 2019 Grammy Awards blew the roof off of Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Sunday. See some of the best moments from the night’s standout performances in the gallery ahead.
Camila Cabello, J Balvin, Ricky Martin, Arturo Sandoval, Young Thug — "Havana"
The two-time nominee (and former Fifth Harmony member) proved her staying power on the mainstream scene with a fiery workout of a set that featured J Balvin, Ricky Martin, Arturo Sandoval, and Young Thug. Cabello told reporters on the Grammys red carpet the colorful “Havana” performance was inspired by her grandmother’s life, and members of her real family appeared on stage during the production, which was dressed to resemble a bustling block party in the No. 1-charting song’s titular Cuban city — which Martin, Sandoval, Young Thug, and Balvin promptly crashed.
Chloe x Halle — "Where Is the Love"
Chloe x Halle, two-time nominated sisters who rose to prominence after impressing Beyoncé (and subsequently opening for the European leg of her Formation tour), put a subtle contemporary spin on Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s duet “Where Is the Love.”
Dolly Parton tribute with Little Big Town, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Katy Perry, and Miley Cyrus
What could’ve resulted in a peculiar mashup of vocal styles (Katy Perry’s bombastic pipes mixed with Kacey Musgrave’s smooth country cooing?) ended up as one of the sweetest moments of Sunday’s telecast thanks to an all-powerful binding ingredient: The performative energy of Dolly Parton, an icon whose country-to-mainstream-celebrity legacy received its proper time in the spotlight surrounded by some of the genre’s biggest contemporary acts as they sang through “9 to 5,” “Here You Come Again,” “Jolene,” “After the Gold Rush,” and “Red Shoes.” Perry and Cyrus complemented the group’s homespun twang with the perfect hint of glistening pop sheen — a balance Parton and her career thus far have similarly embodied with grace.
Cardi B — "Money"
Rap’s reigning queen (and one of EW’s favorite entertainers of 2018) flexed her flow-heavy might under the Grammys spotlight with feisty zest as she performed her current hit “Money” dressed in a skintight, diamond-encrusted leopard getup with a squad of female dancers flanking her. Regardless of how you feel about Cardi’s approach to the craft (or to the art of celebrity), the power and pride emanating from this peak moment in her Cinderella story — after rising from stripper to reality star to royal of the Recording Academy’s biggest stage — felt undeniably electric as she embraced her newfound diva status (and powered through a wardrobe mishap that saw her necklace tumble off her neck) atop a bedazzled piano before literally fluffing her feathers while sporting an appropriately massive peacock tail.
Janelle Monáe — "Make Me Feel"
Funky and fresh, Janelle Monáe’s avant-garde and futuristic approach to contemporary music styles like R&B and pop have made her a musical maverick. In fitting fashion, her 2019 Grammys performance of “Make Me Feel” incorporated lots of androgynous clothing, singular dance moves, and plenty of Janelle-on-the-floor writhing.
Lady Gaga — "Shallow"
Taking the stage Sunday night at Staples Center, just two days before final Oscar voting opens, Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson have given Grammy viewers and Academy voters alike reason enough to go off the deep end for their Oscar-nominated A Star Is Born smash “Shallow.” With hard-rocking flair (and full body glitter), Gaga married Jackson’s Maine’s bravado with Ally’s vocal prowess for a show-stopping take on the cinematic single.
Kacey Musgraves — "Rainbow"
Having released Golden Hour, one of the best albums of 2018, Kacey Musgraves’ standout moment at the 2019 Grammys is no surprise, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful. The 30-year-old’s progressive lyrics and quiet intensity unfurled as effortlessly as her crystalline voice at Staples Center, wearing a crisp white gown (complete with matching white microphone) as she let her vocal skills provide the color as she sailed through a gorgeous, piano-driven rendition of “Rainbow.”
Brandi Carlile — “The Joke”
The most nominated woman of the evening made a solid case for her placement at the head of the pack, bringing the Staples Center audience to its feet — before her haunting performance of “The Joke” even ended — for a standing ovation in honor of her towering voice.
Diana Ross medley
Miss Ross arrived for her Grammys birthday bash as only a true diva would: tearfully making her way through “The Best Years of My Life.” Proving that 75 looks just as good on her as half that number does on some of today’s reigning pop princesses, Ross then swayed through “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” showing contemporary acts that no one can do it like Diamond Diana can.
Shawn Mendes and Miley Cyrus — "In My Blood"
Each of the 20-year-old heartthrob’s televised performances have, to date, all felt like strategic shoe-ins aimed at shepherding masses of teenage eyes to the respective telecast, but Mendes cemented his might as a pop mainstay with palpable energy and irresistible suave as he belted his hit “In My Blood” from behind a piano, proving he needed few theatrics to stand out on music’s biggest night. That is, until he invited Miley Cyrus onstage for an impassioned duet that soared on pure talent and vocal acrobatics.
Yolanda Adams, Fantasia, and Andra Day's Aretha Franklin tribute
Unlike Madonna’s earnest-yet-self-indulgent spoken word tribute to the late Aretha Franklin at the 2018 MTV VMAs, Fantasia, Andra Day, and Yolanda Adams gave the Queen of Soul a fitting sendoff in appropriate fashion: A cover of “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman” sung by a trio of women influenced by Franklin’s music, paying r-e-s-p-e-c-t to the dearly departed diva with a wall of powerhouse vocals.