"The trophies, for the most part, went to deserving artists," says Madison Vain, pointing chiefly to Billie Eilish, the first woman to win the Big Four Grammy awards. "But there were also some massive missteps," she adds, such as the Blake Shelton-Gwen Stefani duet near the top of the show. This year's Grammys marked the end of Ken Ehrlich's 40-year tenure as Grammys producer, and Vain says it's about time that he moved on. Vain adds: "In a move that is both an insult to her as well as Prince, a great champion of female talent, producer Ken Ehrlich failed to ask FKA Twigs to actually sing during the tribute to the artist who died over three years ago now, instead having her simply dance alongside Usher and Sheila E. 'Of course I wanted to sing at the grammys,' she wrote on Twitter. 'I wasn’t asked this time but hopefully in the future.' It feels dangerously in-line with a decision made last year when showrunners wouldn’t let Lorde, the lone female Album of the Year nominee, perform any of her own music, solo. (Grande canceled her own 2019 awards performance, tweeting that the Ehrlich & Co. were 'stifling' her creativity.) Ehrlich will retire this year after helming 40 ceremonies, and therefore treated himself to a Fame musical montage that featured Cyndi Lauper, Camilla Cabello, Common, Gary Clark Jr., and somewhere between five and 50 others. It arrived three hours and twenty-five minutes (!) into the broadcast and then lasted just as long."
With the Billie Eilish overreach, the Grammys felt like a party thrown by an "out-of-step patronizing-dad": Eilish -- who may have been mouthing "Please don't be me, please" -- shouldn't be blamed for her awards sweep. "Yet," says Carl Wilson, "the Academy seemed to fall all over itself to applaud the young white girl with the handmade, alt-pop aesthetic (who was also painstakingly cultivated by the industry) instead of the left-field, brash black innovators. On Twitter, actor H. Jon Benjamin (of Bob’s Burgers, Archer, etc.) compared the spectacle of Eilish’s repeat trips to the podium to 'a crazy bat mitzvah' and (although Eilish isn’t Jewish) that dovetailed with the image I formed of white boomer Grammy voters chuckling, 'aw, she reminds me of my grandkids,' and then checking every box next to her name."
Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X were the twin superheroes of the Grammys: "Billie and Lil Nas X did the Grammys a huge favor just by showing up: The Academy needs their 'newness' more than they need the trophies," says Rob Sheffield. He adds: "Lil Nas X seized his big coronation moment with the night’s music highlight in 'Old Town Road': one of the splashiest and best Grammy performances ever, riding with BTS, Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Mason Ramsey, and the original Nas. When he and BTS got wiggly while belting 'Seoul Town Road,' it was a blast of unbridled joy and exuberance — the kind of raw emotion that pop music is supposed to be all about. And to think that this time last year, he was just a broke nobody crashing on his sister’s couch. Like Billie, he gave a jolt of teen spirit, badly needed on a night when the Grammy honchos were so bored they tossed a Best Rock Album nomination to the Cranberries."
The Prince tribute wasn't a watercooler moment, or a Grammy one, really: "The main reason it fell flat was probably just that it was hard to understand its reason for being, four years after Prince’s death — except as a teaser trailer for a full-length Prince tribute CBS will film two nights after the Grammys, which is their reason enough," says Chris Willman. "Usher was the sole headliner in this number (many more will sing in the forthcoming taping), and on paper he was a good choice, as someone who can do the splits, and other royal duties besides. But the problem was kind of like the issue with Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie: maybe it’s better to go off the reservation and get someone who isn’t really trying to emulate the dearly departed. FKA Twigs made an impressive cameo as a pole dancer, but everyone was wondering why she was only dancing and not singing — a question she raised herself on Twitter after the show ended."
Alicia Keys reacts to hosting a "roller coaster" ceremony following the death of Kobe Bryant: "This was a really hard night, and that's why I think it was a roller coaster," Keys told ET after the ceremony. "It was painful, it's painful right now. We lost a beloved, beloved hero to all of us. A person who is like a true example of brilliance and excellence. It's not easy to go forward with all of that weight. But I think that the energy that he always brought and that fighting spirit... is what brought us through tonight."