An opening number sets the mood for an entire show, so no pressure, but a lot was riding on the first few minutes of the 2019 Grammy Awards. With Alicia Keys hosting, and fans expecting performances from spectacular nominees like Camila Cabello, Cardi B, and Post Malone, the 2019 Grammys opening performance delivered an energetic number that will make you want to book the next flight to Havana.
Whether you’re used to longtime host LL Cool J’s confident style or a singalong worthy of Carpool Karaoke by James Corden, their opening touches are usually separate from the actual musical numbers kicking off the ceremony. Last year’s opening medley included appearances from Kendrick Lamar, U2, and comedian Dave Chappelle.
In the weeks leading up to the 2019 ceremony, it made sense that the Recording Academy would follow in the previous year’s footsteps and recruit several artists for an opening number. With popular artists like Malone, BTS, and Cabello now household names since 2018’s ceremony, fans were anticipating the appearance of newer stars as soon as the Grammys broadcast began.
On Feb. 5, the Recording Academy confirmed in a tweet that former Fifth Harmony singer Cabello, "I Like It" artist J Balvin, and "Havana" collaborator Young Thug would perform in the show’s opener alongside past Grammy winners Ricky Martin and Arturo Sandoval. The work of these performers alluded to a fun mashup of pop, R&B, rap, and Latin music, and the final product definitely didn’t disappoint.
Ahead of Feb. 10’s performance, Cabello hinted at nervousness about opening the show, writing alongside an Instagram photo, "I have butterflies in my tummy #GRAMMYTIME." Like a true pro, she didn’t let on to her nerves as the show kicked off. While previously speaking to E!’s Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet, Cabello spilled that the performance was based on her grandmother’s childhood and that it would feature family members, and the performance’s nostalgic touches were immediately evident.
Featuring a brightly lit stage and a powerful rendition of Cabello’s hit "Havana," the opening number followed Cabello through a set of a house to center stage before Young Thug stepped in for his portion of the song. The Latin flavor was strong as dancers took the spotlight and Martin began singing in Spanish alongside Cabello. J Balvin joined the duo in the culmination of the song before Keys entered, reminding the audience that music was "our shared global language." Yas, queen!
If "Havana" didn’t already make you start dancing in your seat, that performance might just do the trick.
Cabello opened the Grammys with nominations in the Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album categories. J Balvin is recognized for his work on Record of the Year nominee I Like It. While Young Thug has gained attention in the last few years for his hip-hop music, Martin last won a Grammy in 2015 for his Latin pop album A Quien Quiera Escuchar. Sandoval came to the Grammys’ stage this year with 10 nominations and four wins under his belt.
Congrats to Cabello and her co-performers for starting the Grammys on a strong note!
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