Janelle Monáe, Brandi Carlile, Lady Gaga and St. Vincent Gayed Up the 2019 Grammys

I didn’t have plans to watch last night’s 61st annual Grammy Awards because last year’s Grammys were the worst awards show we’ve been subjected to in a while, which, as you know, is saying something — but when Michelle Obama trended on Twitter two minutes after the show started, my curiosity and abiding love got the best of me and I turned it on. Boi, am I glad I did! Not only did I get to see Dolly Parton honored with a moving tribute by Dolly Parton, I also got to witness the gayest, most women-dominated Grammys ever.

Last year, Recording Academy president Neil Portno earned the rightful ire of fans and artists when he responded to the dismal number of Grammy nominations for women by saying if women want to be recognized in the music industry they needed “to step up.” This year, women ran the night. Michelle Obama opened the show alongside Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez, and Alicia Keys (who also hosted). The most memorable performances and wins of the night came from women, including tributes to Dolly and Aretha. Cardi B became the first solo woman to win Best Rap Album. And, for the first time ever, a woman, Emily Lazar, won master engineer of an album for her work on Beck’s Colors.

Below are some of the queer highlights of the night.


Janelle Monáe brought Dirty Computer to the stage.

She was robbed of the two wins she deserved — Album of the Year and Best Music Video — but that didn’t stop Janelle Monáe from performing “Make Me Feel,” flipping the lyrics between “Girl, you make me feel” and “Boy, you make me feel,” all while those pants from “PYNK” made a primetime reappearance.

Brandi Carlile made history with her wins.

The most nominated woman of the night took home gramophone trophies for Best Americana Album (By the Way, I Forgive You), Best American Roots Performance, and Best American Roots Song (“The Joke”), making her the first LGBTQ person to win in those categories. She also stunned the audience with a performance of her award-winning song, jumping around by the end with such energy it catapulted the audience into a standing ovation. On the red carpet before the show, she said, “I don’t think I’ve ever felt so seen in my life.”

St. Vincent snagged two trophies.

St. Vincent and Jack Antonoff’s “MASSEDUCTION” won Best Rock Song and the MASSEDUCTION album won Best Recording Package. She also performed the song — and a little “One Kiss” with a shout out to Aretha’s “Respect” — with Dua Lipa, much to the audience’s delight.

Lady Gaga racked up more awards.

Lady Gaga added three more Grammys to her already enormous pile. “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)” won for Best Solo Pop Performance. And A Star Is Born‘s “Shallow,” which she also performed, won for Best Song Written for Visual Media and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Dolly and Miley duetted.

Every awards show needs a ten-minute Dolly tribute, in my opinion. This year’s featured Dolly herself, along with Katy Perry, Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Little Big Town, and most especially her goddaughter Miley Cyrus, who helped her bring the house down with “Jolene.” Dolly is the first country music singer to be named the MusiCares Person of the Year.

Kacey Musgraves won album of the year.

Longtime, super outspoken LGBTQ ally Kacey Musgraves won Album of the Year and Best Country Album of the Year for Golden Hour. Gay singer-songwriter Shane McAnally co-wrote “Space Cowboy,” my personal favorite song off this very good album, and took home a Grammy for it.

What were your favorite moments of the night?

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 768 articles for us.

18 Comments

  1. One day, probably in the far future, when Lady Gaga isn’t a superstar and beloved by pretty much everyone anymore, we‘ll finally, really claim her and trek to tiny out of the way concert venues with dark wooden paneling on the walls to listen to her smoky voice, cracked with age by then, and her slightly out of tune piano.
    And we‘ll whisper in between songs about how she was always openly out and fighting for equal rights, about her outfits when she was younger, about the affairs she had or might have had and who named their kid or cat after her or one of her songs.
    We’ll meet old girlfriends there, and new ones and always run into old friends and acquaintances.
    It‘ll be great.

  2. In an interview after her performance, Brandi talked about how nervous she was but she looked out at the audience and saw one person standing up “with a look of peace on her face” and it was JANELLE and she made Brandi feel strong and so she sang the song to Janelle(!!!) and it’s something that she will “never forget”. My faves supporting and loving each other??? Amazing.

  3. Genuinely so happy for Brandi Carlile. (And selfishly happy that I bought reasonably-priced tickets to see her live BEFORE this performance!)

    While I thoroughly enjoyed Kacey’s album, I still wish Dirty Computer had won AOTY. But I was ready to be happy for exactly 6 out of the 8 albums nominated anyway lol

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