The Margin: These are all the awkward moments that happened at the Grammys

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Grammys so awkward.

Music’s biggest night was as marked by its absences as much as its historic wins and a surprise appearance from former first lady Michelle Obama.

Both Ariana Grande and Childish Gambino won big at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night — she scored best pop vocal album for her song “Sweetener,” and he picked up four awards, including song and record of the year for “This Is America” — yet neither artist was in attendance.

Grande publicly pulled out last week over an impasse with Grammy producers about which songs she would perform during the show. Instead, she tweeted a snap of the custom strapless blue Zac Posen dress she would have worn to accept her first-ever Grammy win. She also took to Twitter to express her gratitude for the honor, writing: “i know i’m not there tonight (trust, i tried and still truly wished it had worked out tbh) and i know i said i try not to put too much weight into these things …. but f–k ……. this is wild and beautiful. thank you so much.”

Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino — along with Kendrick Lamar and Drake — also reportedly declined an invitation to perform at the Grammys, Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich told the New York Times. He said that the Grammys “continue to have a problem with the hip-hop world … when they don’t take home the big prize, the regard of the academy, and what the Grammys represent, [it] continues to be less meaningful in the hop-hop community, which is sad.” Other notable hip hop stars missing in action on Sunday included Jay-Z and Kanye West.

Perhaps those tensions will thaw after Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” became the first rap song to take home the coveted song and record of the year awards, and Cardi B (who actually did show up) became the first solo female to ever take home best rap album for “Invasion of Privacy.”

And while Drake was actually in-house to accept the award for best rap song for “God’s Plan,” he appeared to call out the Grammys and other awards shows for overlooking many hard-working artists. He addressed, “the kids watching, those aspiring to do music, and all my peers that make music from their heart, that do things pure and tell the truth … know we play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport. It is not the NBA… This is a business where sometimes it is up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada has to say…”

He added that, “If there is people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here, I promise you, you already won.”

But as he paused and started to continue speaking with, “But…” he was cut off and the show went to commercial. Some viewers theorized that the producers were silencing him from throwing even more shade at the awards show, but a Grammy rep told Variety that, “during Drake’s speech, there was a natural pause and at that moment the producers did assume that he was done and then cut to commercial.” Drake was reportedly offered the chance to come back on stage and finish his acceptance speech, but he declined.

Also in absentia was Bradley Cooper, who was representing his directorial debut “A Star Is Born” overseas at the British Academy Film Awards while his costar, Lady Gaga, accepted Grammys for best pop duo/group performance for the movie’s song “Shallow.”

But then former first lady Michelle Obama stole the showby walking onstage with Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys and Jada Pinkett Smith to express what music has meant to her. “From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side 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 everybody here,” she said, after a standing ovation. “Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes and joys. 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. Is that right, ladies?”

Don’t miss: Michelle Obama makes surprise appearance at the Grammy Awards

Indeed, it ended up being ladies’ night at the Grammys, with 15-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys hosting the show, and notable performances by Diana Ross (helping celebrate her own 75th birthday) and a tribute to the late Aretha Franklin. This comes on the heels of last year’s music awards being criticized for being male-dominated — and the Recording Academy president telling Variety that “women need to step up.”

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