In an ordinary year, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's "WAP" would have ruled nightclubs across the world. An anthem of female sexual liberation; a piece of popular art that actually shocks. Instead, a global pandemic meant it subsisted on being catnip for the TikTok algorithm, and a hilarious object of obscenity to provoke outrage in the right wing establishment.
The 2021 Grammy Awards was the occasion of their first ever performance of the groundbreaking track, and its batshit insanity met all of the hype. It began with Megan and Cardi B both offering solo performances – Megan on a Moulin Rouge-cross-Las Vegas style gold plinth stage to render "Savage" and "Body", while Cardi delivered "Up" on an eye-popping animated stage.
But little could have prepared most for "WAP". The pair chose to play the "clean" version of the song – if I could increase the size of the inverted commas, I would – and cleaned it up even more, choosing to rap "wet, wet wet" instead of "wet and gushy". But ultimately, this song is impossible to censor – and that's a good thing. A giant high heel backdropped the first half of the performance, while Cardi – dressed as a kind of robot gladiator – swung around a pole, with cash flying everywhere. Then, Cardi and Megan hopped on an enormous white bed, writhing together in "WAP"'s final throes.
Everything ended on a strange note when host Trevor Noah tried a riff that needed some serious workshopping, or forgetting altogether. "This is just like a dream I had, me and Cardi B in bed," he said, hopping in bed. But not even a bad bit like that could take away from a piece of pop-rap-absurd-opera for the books.
Channel 10 are screening the Grammy Awards live on Monday 15 March from 11AM AEDT. You can watch in HD on TV or stream the show live, or later via catch-up, on 10Play. Catch up on Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B's performance on 10Play post-show.
Written by Josh Martin, a Melbourne-based freelance music and media writer with words in MTV Australia, NME, Junkee, Crikey, etc. Follow him on Twitter @joshuamartjourn.
Editor's Note: MTV and Channel 10 are both subsidiaries of ViacomCBS.