If there’s one thing the Grammys consistently deliver, it’s top-tier onstage performances. From Beyoncé-as-goddess at the 2017 Grammys to Madonna in a Jean Paul Gaultier kimono at the 1999 show, the performances can often transcend the awards themselves, venturing into iconic, memorable territory. Despite the mess in which the Grammys are currently embroiled, the talent showed up and did their job last night, offering several great live moments. Here are some of the highlights—stay tuned for our best/worst performances list.
Ariana Grande went through a lot last year. We don’t even need to rehash it—we all know. Her medley was hopeful and stripped-back, complete with a string section. Her bit of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music led into “7 Rings,” which heavily interpolates the musical standard popularized by Julie Andrews. Her vocals were crisp, with a lot of space provided for her vocal acrobatics.
It was a good night for Billie. Performing “when the party’s over” with her brother Finneas (who took home the Best Producer award last night), the two donned matching sparkly Gucci numbers. It was a testament to their collaborative spirit, and to the power of Eilish’s voice.
Spanish neo-flamenco superstar Rosalía showed up in a white fringe outfit to dance the night away to her new single “Juro Que” as well as “Malamente” from her 2018 bachelor’s degree final project El Mal Querer, which took home the award for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album. Pretty impressive for a final project.
Tyler showed up to cause actual earthquakes (and fires, it turns out) with assistance from Charlie Wilson and Boyz II Men. It was by far the night’s most chaotic performance. Dressed as Igor, he wore a platinum blonde, Carol Channing-esque bowl cut wig and a color block, ice cream-toned suit.
The applause Alicia Keys received simply for walking onto stage is telling of her character. “To be honest with you, we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now,” she opens, invoking the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant earlier that day. She returned later to perform her new song “Underdog” with assistance from Brittany Howard.
Um, can we talk about FKA Twigs? Anyone? She learned pole dancing just for her recent album, Magdalene, and showed up for Usher’s Prince tribute showing off her stellar skills. She didn’t sing a word and it was one of the night’s most musical moments. Usher looked great in his Prince cosplay, and it managed to feel authentically “Prince” with Sheila E. hammering the drums.
Find our list of the night’s big winners right here.