Kevin Winter / Getty Images
On Sunday evening, the 61st Grammy Awards broadcast did its best to balance various requirements. It makes up for a complete gender, expanding the range of winners and winners and striving to honor those who are mainstream, rather than five years ago. Within the tight time of the Prime Time Awards shows, there seemed to be some progress in each count, without straying too far from its comfort zone.
Kacey Musgraves won the highest award of the night, Album of the Year – her fourth trophy of the evening – for Golden Hour (which includes the Country album won the year). Childish Gambino won the record and song of the year for his epic "This Is America" (which also won the best music video), but did not attend the ceremony.
Other major awards went to Cardi B, who received the prize for best rap album for her debut as a soloist Invasion of Privacy  and Dua Lipa, the second after her appearance alongside St. Vincent was awarded as best new artist (and sporadically noticed that women have really gone on stage last year). Drake surprised everyone as he showed up to accept the gramophone for the best rap song. (For the full list of winners, click here.)
Prior to Sunday's show, the Grammys and their parent organization, the Recording Academy, went through a pretty horrific year of commenting on the fallout of outgoing President Neil Portnow Last year's show that women in music should be "reinforced" if they want recognition. This mistake amid the #Metoo movement, coupled with the documented lack of awards and nominations for women and the persistent, profound allegations of cultural myopia, after years of denying some of the most forward-thinking artists in the music (Beyonce) and Kendrick Lamar's boss among them in recent years) expectations that the prices of 2019 will require serious soul research.
Alicia Keys, the third woman of color hosting the ceremony (after Whoopi Goldberg 1992 and Queen) Latifah (2005), was able to say, "I'm super-gifted, to win 15 Grammys" early on, without alienating yourself in any way. Her charisma and relaxed self-confidence were contagious and did a great deal throughout the show. (She did not lie when she said in her opening remarks, "I have you." She did.) And as if to thwart the heart of this identity crisis, Keys ended her introductory speech by former First Lady Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
For this year's awards, the Academy increased the number of nominees in each of the four main categories (Song, Album and Record of the Year plus Best New Artist) from five to eight. In the Best Album category, there was some speculation that Brandi Carlile's nomination for By The Way, I Forgive – Carlile brought home three generic trophies as a consolation – could lead to a vote between the two are rooted artists. But for the Academy's voters, Musclave's idiosyncratic work raised her over a mighty rivalry, including the Black Panther curated by Kendrick Lamar: The Album, Janelle Monae's Visionary Dirty Computer and Cardi B's Breakout Infringement of Privacy .
Keys was also one of the most notable performers of the night. He played two pianos, killing a medley of songs she wished [she]"Killing Me Softly", "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole, something by Coldplay "Clocks" and Lauryn Hills' Doo Wop (That Thing) "- as comfortable as a lounge singer on a regular Thursday night gig, as the production staff used that time for a stage restart.
Other notable performances pays tribute to Dolly Parton, in which Parton himself starred prominently, accompanied by Musgraves, Parton's godchild Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Maren Morris. Dua Lipa and St. Vincent seemed to be enjoying themselves during a mix of St. Vincent's "Masseduction" and Lipa's "One Kiss". Cardi B's lip-synching was out of sync, though she still managed to deliver a convincing, flapper-checking performance from Money. Janelle Monae channeled both Prince and Michael Jackson in an early appearance of Make Me Feel. Lady Gaga brought an almost unnecessary amount of energy to her inescapable meta-hit "Shallow". In the meantime, a tribute to the lovingly deceased Aretha Franklin – by Andra Day, Fantasia and Yolanda Adams – was easily the vocal flood signal of the night. (Just under a second for Brandi Carlile's performance of "The Joke.")
The show was as usual very long – nearly four hours. This is not least because there are over a dozen commercial breaks that reflect the current moment as well as anything that happens during the actual show. We had Childish Gambino as a computer-generated avatar who reinterpreted his dance moves "This Is America" in an advertisement for a new Google dingham bob. Not to be outdone, Ariana Grande stuttered during a commercial break for Apple and their animoji dingamajigs. Camila Cabello also appeared shortly after her opening performance in a MasterCard commercial. Let's not even go into the ASMR video made by Zoe Kravitz for a light beer or Will Smith as The Genie in Disney's upcoming live action Aladdin . After all, artists somehow have to make money.
Neil Portnow, the besieged and outgoing president and CEO of the Recording Academy, was uncomplicated in his final speech on the Grammys stage: "We must seize this unique moment to bring about change. Our own, unique industry to ensure that there is diversity and inclusion in everything we do – and we will. "
The attempt was tangible – six of the nine awards given during the program went to women. With some of the biggest winners of the night and the biggest stars of the mainstream not being in the building, including Ariana Grande and Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, The Carters and Kanye West, the Recording Academy may have dug a deeper hole than she can imagine. Many expected that Drake would be under this number, but he did come to collect his only award, just to directly target the relevance of the Grammys. In his acceptance speech he said to young artists and hinted at his new trophy: "You do not need this here."