Exploring Rihanna's Weird Disco Sculpture Garden


2 years ago

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Nearly a week later, the Grammys is still generating conversation—though most of the music on stage at the ceremony has been forgotten. The latest news is that the Recording Academy has formed a committee to study the state of women in the music business after the organization’s president, Neil Portnow, made an unconsidered defense of the ceremony’s skewed gender dynamics.

Meanwhile, I’m still rolling back the clip of the 2018 Grammys moment that most joyfully showcased women’s work—and also happened to be the best and weirdest performance of the night. Take a look: It’s “Wild Thoughts,” the DJ Khaled song featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller. A befuddling piece of music in its own right (who invited Carlos Santana’s Supernatural into this decade?), on Sunday, it generated a spectacle that might be compared to dropping a tab of LSD and then wandering through a vintage costume shop.

Khaled, as he is wont to do, nearly ruined the thing from the start with his shouted catchphrases. But when he broke into an odd, half-competent shimmy, it set the mood—not serious, but not joking either; chaos, but organized. The magic began in earnest, though, when Rihanna swaggered out through a human sculpture garden that ever-so-slowly came to life.

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