From the very first moment she took the Grammys stage, host Alicia Keys made it clear the night would be about paying tribute to music.
And it was Keys herself who delivered one of the most powerful performances of the night – with a medley that included classics from five different decades.
Sat between two pianos, the 38-year-old songstress wowed the audience at the Los Angeles Staples Center on Sunday as she began to play them both at the same time.
‘I’ve been thinking so much about the people and the music that have inspired me, and I want to give a shout out to Hazel Scott because I always wanted to play to pianos,’ she said, referring to the late jazz pianist and movie star.
‘You know those songs that live inside of you and live inside of me, and you just love it so much, because it was done so well that you wish you wrote it?’
‘That’s how I feel about these songs. I wish I wrote them.’
Keys first began with the song that she said she thinks about when she reflects on ‘heartache and heartbreak’, playing Roberta Flack’s 1973 tune Killing Me Softly, later popularized by Lauryn Hill and The Fugees.
‘Or when it’s time to move on, this is the song,’ she said, breaking into Juice World’s recent hit Lucid Dreams before switching to Nat King Cole’s 1952 classic Unforgettable.
‘Now, who didn’t wish they wrote this song? I know I do,’ she said as she began singing Kings of Leon’s 2008 hit Use Somebody.
That turned into In My Feelings, Drake’s song of the summer, and Boo’d Up by Ella Mai before Keys began playing Doo-Wop (That Thing), saying she wished she had written the entire Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album.
‘Then, finally, you write the song you wish you wrote,’ Keys said before she broke into her own tune Empire State Of Mind.
Keys’ medley was an instant hit on Twitter, with many calling it the best performance in a Grammys that had already been praised throughout the night.
‘Okay but who is doing it like Alicia Keys she literally has more stage presence than half the industry and she’s only up there with two pianos,’ one fan wrote.
‘Alicia Keys is refreshing everyone’s memory on why she’s one of the greatest of all time,’ one commenter wrote.
‘When the best performer of the night is also the host. #GRAMMYs @aliciakeys,’ another added.
Ana Navarro joked that Alicia Keys was doing such a good job she should ‘just go ahead and host the Oscars too’.
‘God exists and loves us, and the proof is Alicia Keys,’ quipped Ben Domenech, while on fan added: ‘ I don’t know if there is a God, but if there is, she listens to Alicia Keys.’
Many said they would’ve been happy to keep watching Keys perform for the rest of the night.
‘The @aliciakeys two piano medley was the best thing on tv tonight, this week, probably for a very long time,’ one fan wrote.
‘I could have settled in for a whole Alicia Keys concert after that performance, didn’t want it to end,’ another added.
‘Give me Alicia Keys and 2 pianos the rest of the night and I’m good,’ one viewer quipped.
‘I’m the epitome of non-target market of Grammys. You know what, I’ll tune in every year if @aliciakeys hosts and does a 20-minute riff of everyone’s best songs,’ added Paul Kane.
Many marveled at Keys’ ability to host the show with ease and then pull off an incredible performance, which some suspected was actually a filler after Ariana Grande pulled out of the show last minute.
‘Alicia Keys is a godsend. Most folks have no idea what a heavy lift it is to host a show of this magnitude. Then to straddle two pianos and belt out a complication performance of, what, 7 or 8 songs? Simply. Amazing,’ one fan wrote.
‘Hats off to Alicia Keys…What a magnificent performance at #GRAMMYs both as a presenter and (incredible) singer and piano player,’ another added.
‘Award shows are hard – this is a fantastic show. Diana. Dolly. And @aliciakeys is perfect,’ Billy Eichner wrote.
‘Giving @aliciakeys the keys to the #GRAMMYs was a very good idea,’ another added.
Keys was the first woman to host the Grammys since Queen Latifah was given the honor in 2005.
And she didn’t take the position lightly, kicking off the night with Michelle Obama, crooning with Smokey Robinson, and dancing with Jennifer Lopez.
During her opening monologue, Keys made it clear that the night would be about music and the joy that it can bring.
‘Do you feel that love in the building? This is love, this is life, this is living, this is light and all because of music,’ she told the audience.
‘Music is so powerful. So you see we’re gonna have an incredible time tonight, this is just the beginning.’
‘Music is what we cry to. It’s what we march to. It’s what we rock to. It’s what we make love to. It’s our shared global language, and when you really want to say something, you say it with a song, am I right? Or am I right?’
Later in the ceremony, Keys welcomed Michelle Obama onto the stage, with the former First Lady stunning the star-studded audience as she joined a plethora of female singers beneath the bright lights.
Fans were screaming and blowing kisses to Michelle as she smiled before saying ‘We’ve got a show to do!’ and began laughing with her co-presenters.
Michelle absolutely sparkled as she stood alongside Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Keys to discuss how music has always helped her tell her story.
‘From the Motown records that I wore out on the Southside, to the Who Run The World songs that fueled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story and I know that’s true for everyone here,’ Michelle said, throwing in a quick tribute to Beyonce as the audience went wild.
‘Music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes our joys,’ she continued.
‘It allows us to hear one another – to invite each other in. Music shows us that all of it matters…every story within every voice, every note within every song.’
Michelle walked onto the stage in a dazzling Sachin & Babi outfit that featured a billowing silver blouse with matching slacks and a sparkling belt wrapped above her hips.
It was certainly a night for female empowerment, as women won big at the action-packed ceremony, with the likes of Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, and Lady Gaga some of the biggest winners.
Cardi, 26, made history as she became the first ever solo woman to take home Best Rap Album for Invasion Of Privacy at the gala event held in Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The big win was quickly followed by 30-year-old Musgraves who won the biggest award of the night; Album Of The Year for Golden Hour.
Earlier in the evening Lady Gaga was emotional as she earned Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for her work on Shallow from the A Star Is Born soundtrack.
The emotional high point of the night happened as Cardi looked absolutely stunned as she won in the male-dominated category beating out Pusha-T, Travis Scott, Nipsey Hussle, and the late Mac Miller.
Cardi seemed overwhelmed as she received her honor as she joked: ‘Oh, the nerves are so bad. Maybe I need to start smoking weed!’
Obviously taken aback by the moment, Cardi had to hold the hand of her Migos member husband, Offset, during her speech.