Dua Lipa flew the flag for British music at the Grammys on Sunday night, accepting the award for best new artist before taking a swipe at the Academy president for his comments about female musicians last year.
The British singer’s pointed remarks came on a night dominated by women, starting with a surprise appearance from Michelle Obama and culminating with the album of the year triumph of Kacey Musgraves.
It was also a big night for rap. Drake surprised the music world when he turned up to accept the best rap song, while Childish Gambino made history by winning song of the year – the first time the award has gone to a hip-hop track.
The ceremony began with Mrs Obama joining on stage a group of powerful women, beginning a theme that was in stark contrast to last year when female voices were somewhat muted.
Host for the evening and 15-time winner Alicia Keys opened the televised ceremony of the 61st Grammy Awards in Los Angeles by welcoming out on stage Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Jada Pinkett Smith and the former first lady.
To huge cheers inside the Staples Centre, Mrs Obama, the wife of former US president Barack Obama, addressed the star-studded audience.
She said: “Music has always helped me tell my story and I know that’s true for everyone here.”
Mrs Obama added: “Music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes and joys, it allows us to hear one another to let each other in.”
“Yes, ladies,” Keys said. “There’s nothing better than this.”
Dua Lipa takes swipe at Grammys president
British singer Dua Lipa was named best new artist, in a category also containing Chloe x Halle, Luke Combs, Greta Van Fleet, H.E.R., Margo Price, Bebe Rexha and fellow British star Jorja Smith.
Accepting her accolade, Lipa aimed a dig at Academy president Neil Portnow, who was criticised last year for suggesting women should “step up” after complaints the nominations were dominated by men.
This year, the categories contained far more women. Accepting the prize on stage, Lipa said she was “honoured” to be nominated alongside “incredible” female artists, adding: “I guess this year we really stepped up.”
It was the second award of the night for Dua Lipa, who earlier scooped best dance recording for “Electricity”.
She later commented on the arrest of rapper 21 Savage, describing it as “upsetting”.
21 Savage is being detained by US immigration officials after it emerged he was born in the UK and allegedly overstayed his visa.
Asked what she thought of the incident, Lipa said it was “upsetting given that he hasn’t actually done anything” before praising his contribution to American culture.
Asked what the difference was between winning awards in her home country and in the US, she said: “It’s crazy. Being a British artist it’s pretty mind-blowing that I get the opportunity to be here and get that recognition.”
Shock win for Musgraves
In a shock result, country music star Musgraves won ahead of industry heavyweights including Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Cardi B.
Musgraves was lost for words on stage, describing the experience as “really crazy”.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Musgraves said. “I am very thankful. Winning doesn’t make my album any better than anybody else in that category.”
It was her fourth award for the night after picking up best country album for “Golden Hour”, best country solo performance for “Butterflies” and best country song for “Space Cowboy.”
“I never dreamed that this record would be met with such love,” she said after accepting the best country album gong.
She also gave a shout-out to her husband who was in the audience, saying she wouldn’t have been able to make the album if he “didn’t open my heart like you did.”
Childish Gambino wins Song of the Year
Lady Gaga won the first award of the night but missed out on the gong for Song of the Year.
That honour went to Childish Gambino for his politically charged “This Is America,” whose graphic music video carried a strong message on gun violence and racism.
The trap gospel song packed with social commentary nabbed one of the top awards of the night, not only beating Gaga but also other heavyweights Drake and Kendrick Lamar.
The song’s striking video from Childish Gambino – the alter ego of actor and recording artist Donald Glover – racked up more than 35 million YouTube views in just two days last spring.
It was the first time a hip-hop track won a song of the year Grammy.
Earlier Sunday, he won the Grammy for Best Music Video.
Drake turns up and delivers pointed speech
Drake won the award for best rap song before going on to take aim at the Recording Academy during a surprise appearance at the ceremony.
The Canadian rapper – who has had an ambivalent relationship with the Grammys and had been expected to stay away, was honoured for his hit God’s Plan.
While accepting the prize, he appeared to aim a jibe at the Academy in charge of voting for the prizes, saying: “We play in an opinion-based sport, not a fact-based sport.”
The Grammys has frequently shut out hip-hop artists from its top prizes, despite rap’s dominance as the biggest music genre in the United States.
But Drake, the biggest streaming artist of 2018, told musicians not to worry about winning prizes.
“The point is 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 said in his acceptance speech.
“If there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and the snow and spending their hard earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here, I promise you,” he added.
Drake was later cut off mid-sentence as he tried to add to his statement.
Cardi B celebrates landmark win
Cardi B made history as the first solo woman to win the Grammy Award for best rap album.
Honoured for her album “Invasion of Privacy”, she delivered much of her acceptance speech holding on to her husband Offset.
She was clearly overwhelmed at the win, pausing early in her speech to say, “the nerves are so bad. Maybe I need to start smoking weed.”
She spoke about her album not being finished when she found out she was pregnant and filming a music video before she started showing.
As Cardi B was announced winner, singer Ariana Grande published a series of expletive-laden tweets that were soon deleted, including one saying “literal bulls—“.
While it is unclear exactly what the tweets were referring to, social media users speculated that she was upset ex-boyfriend Mac Miller – who died in September – had not won for his album Swimming.
After one Twitter user accused her of “shading” Cardi B, Grande responded: “nothing to do w her. good for her. i promise. i’m sorry.”
Women steal the show
After Mrs Obama’s appearance at the start of the ceremony, the evening continued to have a decidedly feminist bent, with a series of girl power performances from celebrated female artists, including Dolly Parton.
Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry performed alongside the 73-year-old nine-time Grammy winner during a tribute to the revered country star.
Parton defied her age to belt out classics Here You Come Again, Jolene and 9 To 5, as well as a cover of Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush.
As well as Perry, Parton was joined on stage by Kacey Musgraves for Here You Come Again, before bringing out her goddaughter Cyrus for a duet of Jolene.
There was also a tribute to another legendary performer as Diana Ross celebrated her 75th birthday.
The soul music star – introduced to the stage by her grandson – performed her hits The Best Years Of My Life and Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand).
Ross, who rose to fame as the lead singer of The Supremes, brought the audience to their feet before finishing the set by shouting: “Happy birthday to me!”
Lady Gaga wins for Shallow
Lady Gaga won the first award in the televised ceremony, scooping the award for best pop duo/group performance for the song Shallow from the film A Star Is Born.
Accepting the prize on stage, Gaga paid tribute to Cooper.
She said: “I wish Bradley was here with me right now. Bradley, I loved singing this song with you. If I don’t get another chance to say this, I just want to say I’m so proud to be a part of a movie that addressed mental health issues – they’re so important.”
Gaga also urged anyone who suspects someone may be struggling with their mental health to intervene.
She added: “If you see someone that’s hurting, don’t look away.”
The star later performed the song alongside Mark Ronson.
The singer also won best pop solo performance for Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?) and best song written for visual media for Shallow.
Ariana Grande a no-show
Brandi Carlile, Lady Gaga and Kacey Musgraves won multiple Grammys in the show’s pre-telecast on Sunday.
Carlile won three honours in the Americana category while Ariana Grande also won her first Grammy in the same week that she publicly blasted Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich and accused him of lying about why she was no longer performing at the show.
“I know i’m not there tonight (trust, i tried and still truly wished it had worked out tbh) and i know i said i try not to put too much weight into these things …. but (expletive) ……. this is wild and beautiful. thank you so much,” she tweeted after learning about her win.
Childish Gambino, Tori Kelly and Lauren Daigle won two awards each. Beyonce, Jay-Z, Ella Mai, H.E.R., Hugh Jackman, Stingy, Shaggy, Dave Chappelle, “Weird Al” Yankovic, the late Chris Cornell, Greta Van Fleet and even former President Jimmy Carter also picked up early awards ahead of the live show.
There was a tie for best rap performance, and Drake was surprisingly not one of the winners. Drake’s “Nice for What” lost to Anderson Paak’s “Bubblin'” and Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future and James Blake’s “King’s Dead,” from the “Black Panther” soundtrack.
Beck was a double winner during the pre-telecast, taking home best alternative music album and best engineered album (non-classical) for “Colors.” Emily Lazar, one of the engineers who worked on the album and won alongside Beck, said onstage that she was the first female mastering engineer to win in the latter category.