The Best along with Worst of the Grammys

The 61st annual Grammy Awards on Sunday worked to right the wrongs of the past few years’ ceremonies, where the leading narrative was tension over a lack of diversity along with poor representation for the most influential young artists in music. Big stars still stayed home — along with one of the biggest got cut off mid-speech — yet the show corralled a former first lady along with delivered many messages of inspirational uplift. Here are the highlights along with lowlights as we saw them:

Drake, who pointedly did not perform on Sunday night, claimed just his fourth Grammy in 42 tries — best rap song for “God’s Plan” — along with he deigned to show up to accept This kind of, taking the winner’s podium for once. (His previous awards were not televised, along with he’s even clowned the show for giving “Hotline Bling” the best rap song trophy in 2017 “maybe because I’ve rapped inside past or because I’m black,” he said.) This kind of time, he pulled a Fiona Apple along with told the globe This kind of didn’t matter: “We play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport,” he said, seemingly legitimately nervous. “This kind of can be a business where sometimes This kind of’s up to a bunch of people that will might not understand, you know, what a mixed-race kid by Canada has to say, or a fly Spanish girl by brand-new York, or anybody else, or a brother by Houston.”

This kind of was part motivational speech, part rebuke of gatekeepers, along with all Drake, the most famous guidance counselor inside universe. “The point can be, you’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown,” he added. “You don’t need This kind of right here, I promise you.” yet when he gathered his breath to finish the sentiment, the show cut to commercial. Drake was not seen at the Grammys again, along with given how hard This kind of was to get him there inside first place, he might not be for a while. JOE COSCARELLI

[Want to be heard during the Grammys? Maybe stay home, our critic writes.]

Flanked by younger admirers for a patchwork tribute, Dolly Parton easily held her own, with her voice still twangy, feathery along with persuasive. The start was shaky: Kacey Musgraves too tentative along with Katy Perry too vehement before Parton righted the tone of “Here You Come Again.” Miley Cyrus made an admiring rival in “Jolene,” along with Cyrus shared three-part a cappella harmony with Parton along with Maren Morris in “After the Gold Rush,” a Neil Young song Parton has recorded with Linda Ronstadt along with Emmylou Harris. Little Big Town gave Parton an arena-country buildup inside story-song “Red Shoes,” by the 2018 “Dumplin’” soundtrack, before the female-solidarity finale, “9 to 5,” in which Parton made sure to praise her recent songwriting collaborator along with producer, Linda Perry, who was leading the band. Parton was all smiles, along with all gumption. JON PARELES

“Welcome to the Grammys,” Cardi B proclaimed one hour along with 28 minutes into the Grammys, luxuriating atop a jewel-encrusted piano that will would likely make Liberace blink. She began her performance of “Money” in a dramatic cape like a sexy vampire leopard, along with ended This kind of sporting a ring of feathers like the baddest peacock on the block. Her set of plush banquets evoked vintage glitz, yet 20 dancers doing floor work, four more waving large fans along which has a flamboyant pianist — Chloe Flower — couldn’t steal attention by the main attraction. When she returned to the stage to accept the award for best rap album, she had switched modes: by swagger to heart. “I can’t breathe,” she said, struggling for a brief moment to organize her thoughts. An entire arena was ready to offer up their lungs. GANZ

During the 19-second fingerpicked introduction to the power ballad “Shallow,” Lady Gaga executed two full body hair flips, one side kick along with seven exaggerated stabbing motions with her left arm, each punctuating plucks of Mark Ronson’s acoustic guitar. As she sang the verses to the song, the standout by “A Star can be Born,” she acted out seemingly the entire arc of rock stardom: drinking, doing cocaine along with torturing a microphone stand. Lady Gaga can be one of our most gloriously talented pop stars, along with one of the most nerve-racking, because you never know when her tango with Great taste will dip into disaster. In her attempt to make This kind of performance of “Shallow” the most everything, she ended up with less. GANZ

H.E.R., the shades-wearing singer, songwriter along with multi-instrumentalist who won the Grammy for best R&B album, summoned echoes of Prince along with “Purple Rain” with reverberating chords by her electric guitar as she sang “Hard Place.” Singers along which has a string section gathered onstage as the song moved into a gospel-charged crescendo along with H.E.R. let loose more expansive, ever more soulful melismas. She wasn’t done until she had flaunted some wailing lead guitar along with then eased the song back down, with poised dynamics at every moment — the kind of real-time musicianship the Grammys still trust to reward. PARELES

Let’s say up front that will Jennifer Lopez can be a genuinely versatile talent — a spectacular dancer, an underrated actress, a person who sings. There are numerous ways she could have enlivened any number of parts of the Grammys This kind of year, or any additional year. Fronting a Motown tribute, however — yeah, how about no? Lopez did not appear to be singing live at any point during her six-minute-plus performance, to the chagrin of many online, along with perhaps also to any of the dozens of R&B singers who could have handled these songs with verve along with power. While the dance routines were strong, turning the music of Motown — which featured some of the most vital, urgent vocals in pop music history — into a Busby Berkeley routine was a swing along which has a miss. CARAMANICA

Miley Cyrus has never won a Grammy. She was not up for one This kind of year. She’s only been nominated once ever. along with yet! Cyrus came to play on Sunday, joining Shawn Mendes to make an unnecessary (sleeveless) duet a true power ballad, along with then appearing again for a tribute to her godmother, Dolly Parton. Cyrus was loose, yet focused; impactful, yet not scenery-chewing, along with, knowing her nonstop-ness, she probably wanted more. She could’ve torn up that will cage with Travis Scott! She could’ve kept “Shallow” earthbound! She could’ve hosted! Bless her. COSCARELLI

Some Grammy performances have little to do with music in itself. The recording business owes a lot to Diana Ross, who had dozens of No. 1 hits, turns 75 in March along with can be still touring This kind of year. What she never got, with the Supremes or solo, was a competitive Grammy award; the Recording Academy came up which has a Lifetime Achievement award in 2012. So when she arrived onstage in a regal, gauzy red gown, after being introduced by her grandson, her presence was enough. She got through the retrospective gratitude of “The Best Years of My Life” (despite an ill-advised upward key change) along with an arm-waving singalong of “Reach Out along with Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” as she strolled through the audience. “Learn, dream, unlock brand-new doors,” she exhorted. “All can be possible.” The standing ovation was a cumulative appreciation. PARELES

Janelle Monáe has extensive ideas about cybernetic control vs. sensual abandon; she also has old-school showbiz razzle-dazzle. She combined them all to perform “Make Me Feel,” a song that will harks back to the Minneapolis funk of Prince along with prime Janet Jackson. Flanked by dancers who were costumed as shiny automatons, she swaggered through the song with robotic twitches, hip-pumping carnality along with even some moonwalking, adding a snippet of her gynocentric song “Pynk” along with the admonition, “Let the vagina have a monologue!” She earned the mic drop that will ended the song. PARELES

The Grammys, structurally, still look like they could be filmed inside 1970s. The camera setups are fairly flat, along with the performances are tightly controlled. So credit Travis Scott for taking a much-needed wrecking ball to the format. He began his performance which has a coolly tempered “Stop Trying to Be God,” backed by James Blake duetting with Philip Bailey (of Earth, Wind along with Fire). yet then the scene switched: Scott reappeared inside a tall cage rapping “No Bystanders,” along with was swarmed by dozens of ecstatic revelers, some of whom began scaling the cage walls. Eventually Scott climbed up, hopped over the top along with landed on the outstretched arms of his faithful. For a show that will likes to pretend music moves in one direction — by the stage outward — This kind of was a welcome reminder that will This kind of can also go up, down, around, along with explode in plain sight. CARAMANICA