1. SZA bringing her mother and grandmother
The beloved R&B artist sampled audio interviews she conducted with her maternal line on her 2017 album Ctrl; bringing them as guests of honor was incredibly sweet. Though the most-nominated woman of the night went home empty-handed, at least her loved ones got to see her deliver a beautiful rendition of “Broken Clocks.”
2. Blue Ivy Carter silently shutting down parents Beyoncé and Jay-Z
The adorable and precocious 6-year-old motioned to her parents to bring it down a notch as they politely clapped to Camila Cabello’s speech. Fans on Twitter joked that the power couple’s eldest hadn’t forgotten the injustice of her mother’s Album of the Year loss for Lemonade, but what is known is that Blue Ivy is just about the only person in the world who can tell Bey what to do. Gif of the night.3. Kesha’s moment
Kesha’s heart-wrenching performance of “Praying” brought nearly everyone in the audience (and my living room) to tears. She is still locked into a five-album contract with Sony Music producer Dr. Luke, who she says sexually abused her for years, including drugging and raping her, so her presence on that stage wasn’t about hitting the high notes. Singing the song she wrote about forgiving her rapist with backup from a slew of female singers and the Resistance Revival Chorus was a triumph for survivors in and out of the music industry.4. Rihanna’s gwara gwara moves
I’m putting aside the fact that DJ Khaled was a mess and Bryson Tiller was forgettable, instead spending my energy enshrining the memory of Rihanna performing the South African gwara gwara dance with her tongue out and savoring the reminder to not take myself too seriously. 5. Childish Gambino’s sensual Marvin Gaye vibes
Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, became the only sincere man in a white suit I’ve ever seen during his riveting performance of “Terrified” from Awaken, My Love!, and wailed beautifully beside notable young singer JD McCrary.6. Kendrick Lamar’s opening performance
The Compton rapper gave a brilliant performance of several songs from his newest album, DAMN, amid a sea of male dancers in army fatigues. Dynamic choreography, artistic use of fire and Lamar’s emotional authenticity made up for unnecessary appearances from U2’s Bono and the Edge (their first of approximately 2,000 such appearances throughout the evening), and Dave Chappelle, although some of the comedian’s words hit a little harder in print than they did live: “…the only thing more frightening than watching a black man being honest in America is being an honest black man in America.”7. Logic, Alessia Cara & DJ Khalid bringing awareness to suicide prevention
The trio performed their song “1-800-273-8255,” named after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, alongside attempt survivors and relatives of those lost. Substantially addressing mental health brought another poignant moment to an awards ceremony so often shaped by distressingly safe choices.
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