The 2018 Grammys were a powerful event full of powerful performance, but it also had some extreme lows. Scroll through to see who we thought gave the best and worst performances of the evening.
20. Eric Church, Maren Morris and the Brothers Osborne turned what should have been an incredibly touching moment — in which they paid tribute to those killed at concerts in England and Las Vegas — into the joke of the evening with an excruciating rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”
19. Sting and Shaggy represented a cycle that seemingly occurred over and over again throughout the Grammys: a couple of great performances would make the show feel like it was really moving, and then an incredibly boring performance would ruin the flow. Sting and Shaggy were perfect representatives of the wrong part of that cycle.
18. Ben Platt paid tribute to Leonard Bernstein, and it was wholly out of place.
17. Sam Smith’s performance of “Pray” was just, like — we don’t even know. In a vacuum it was probably fine. In the context of this show it was extremely lackluster.
16. By the time Chris Stapleton and Emmylou Harris took the stage to play “Wild Flower” late in the show, we were simply not in the mood.
15. Little Big Town gave probably the least memorable performance of the evening. We’re not even sure this really happened.
14. We have no technical complaints with Pink’s performance of “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken,” but it just felt like something was missing. It lacked the power we usually expect from Pink.
13. I’m not sure how Patti LuPone performing “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” fit into the show, but it’s Patti LuPone so we’ll allow it.
12. Elton John and Miley Cyrus performing a duet of “Tiny Dancer” represented the right kind of change of pace in between powerful anthems and energetic dance numbers: just a regular fun, unexhausting rendition of a song we all like, by artists we all like.
11. Jon Batiste and Gary Clark Jr, likewise, gave a breezy tribute to Chuck Berry and Fats Domino that was just an all around pleasant time.
10. SZA was a blast as always. Better than good, but not quite reaching the heights of those who are higher on this list. We bet she’ll move up next year, though.
9. On the tail end of an inspiring speech from Camila Cabello about Dreamers, which concluded with her reading the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, U2 performed “Get Out of Your Own Way” on an outdoor stage with Lady Liberty in the background. It was as impeccable as every U2 performance is, and the context Cabello provided added some meaningful heft to the whole thing.
8. Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi performed “Despacito” without Justin Bieber… and it was kinda better that way?
7. Rihanna, DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller performed “Wild Thoughts” in what was one of the more delightfully fun showcases of the evening.
6. Lady Gaga’s performance of “Million Reasons” was the first of many heartfelt performances Sunday night, and it shouldn’t be forgotten just because 73 hours of Grammy performances came after it.
5. Cardi B and Bruno Mars crushed the performance of their almost too-good-to-be-true New Jack Swing revival track, and at any other Grammys, it would have been the night’s standout. Much respect for the dope rhymes and period-authentic, knee-destroying gymnastics.
4. Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid delivered the climax of the Grammys after the In Memoriam with Logic’s anti-suicide anthem “1-800-273-8255.” That the performance came after the In Memoriam concluded with Chester Bennington, who committed suicide last year, inspired chills.
3. Childish Gambino gave a performance that was so strong it’s tough for us to articulate it without sounding idiotic. It’s just one of those you really needed to have seen to understand its power.
2. Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy ceremony opener was one for the ages that even a brief, pompous appearance by Bono and the Edge couldn’t mar. “Damn.” didn’t win Album of the year but some small consolation is that he blew away nearly everyone else who took the stage Sunday night with this performance.
1. What can we even say about Kesha’s emotional performance of her survivor anthem “Praying”? We can’t do it justice, so we’ll just say this: about 30 seconds into the performance we knew that none of the other artists would be able to create a moment like this one.