Records were made, memorable performances were given and musical artists were snubbed. It wouldn’t be a proper awards night without celebration and some controversy.
Sunday Night, the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards aired to 8.8 million viewers watching at home, marking a new low in viewership. This significant drop is likely due to complications in light of the pandemic.
To abide by safety and health precautions, musical acts would only enter the Staples Center when it was their turn to perform. Otherwise, the awards ceremony took place on a set just outside, where the nominated guests sat socially-distanced.
This year’s award show had many notable performances. Here are some that personally stood out to me:
One of the most anticipated performances of the night was Taylor Swift’s medley of songs off her most recent albums "folklore" and "evermore." She performed “cardigan,” “august” and the live debut of “willow.” This marked her return to the stage since she had not performed at the Grammy’s since 2016, and she did not disappoint. The set perfectly captured the woodsy, fairy-tale-esque theme of Swift’s past couple albums. She definitely seemed to be in her element, as her joy was palpable through the television screen.
A personal favorite of mine had to be the television debut of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s duo, Silk Sonic. They performed their first single “Leave the Door Open'' and it was a wonderful throwback to 1970s era R&B vocal-groups. The duo and their couple backup singers had simple, yet still very enjoyable choreography as to not take away from the main attraction: their vocals. The harmonies were straight doses of serotonin to my brain and Bruno’s falsetto is heavenly. I can’t wait to hear more music and performances from these two.
Later in the night, Lil Baby performed his song “The Bigger Picture,” and it sent a powerful message regarding police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. The performance started with a scene depicting an altercation between a Black man and two white police officers, who eventually shoot him. Lil Baby proceeded to give his performance on a set depicting BLM protests that resembled those that took place over the summer. It also featured speeches from notable artists and activists interspersed throughout the song. This performance was quite impactful due to its relevance in this country’s current racial and political climate.
Other stellar performances included Harry Styles’ opening of the show with “Watermelon Sugar,” dawning one of the most iconic outfits of the night. Green feather boas are going to be experiencing a sudden increase in sales.
DaBaby’s church choir rendition of “Rockstar” featured old white women in robes singing backup and dancing in the background. It will surely inspire many more internet memes to come.
Megan Thee Stallion had one of the best set themes of the night, as her classy '20s inspired set and costumes paired well with her lyrics and presence for the song "Body." Cardi B then joined her for their widely successful song “WAP,” which served as an enjoyable throwback to the summer for younger audiences and subsequently gave all parents and baby boomers heart failure.
Doja Cat performed fan-favorite song “Say So,” and featured the viral TikTok dance that is beloved by many. Finally, BTS closed out the night with their wildly successful song “Dynamite,” showcasing their always on-point dance moves and contagious energy.
Records were made during the awards portion of the show. Beyoncé won Best R&B Performance, making this her 28th Grammy win. She also broke the record for most Grammy wins ever by a female artist. Taylor Swift took home her third Album of the Year award for “Folklore.” She became the first female artist ever to win this award three times.
Megan Thee Stallion won Best New Artist, H.E.R. won Song of the Year for “I Can’t Breathe” and Harry Styles took home his first Grammy win for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Watermelon Sugar.”
Billie Eilish won the coveted Record of the Year award for “Everything I Wanted.” However, when Eilish took the stage to give her acceptance speech, she spent most of it expressing how she felt Megan Thee Stallion was more deserving of the award.
This gets at one of the larger criticisms of these awards, which is that it is lacking in diversity in terms of their nominations and wins. The Weeknd, who had a huge year with his track “Blinding Lights,” wasn’t given a single nomination, leading to him announcing that he would no longer be performing at the Grammy’s and be submitting his music for consideration.
Multiple major artists such as Nicki Minaj and Zayn Malik also announced they would be boycotting the show over the Recording Academy’s history of failing to recognize artists of color.
Beyoncé also declined to perform at the awards show even though she was the most nominated person that night. Despite holding the most Grammys, she has also experienced a significant share of her most notable work being overlooked.
This caused #scammys to be trending all night, as viewers were outraged over the decisions of the Recording Academy. The thread was dominated by users enraged over BTS losing their first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo or Group Performance, when they had experienced unprecedented success with the track.
Many are criticizing the Recording Academy’s secretive voting processes, which is said to be full of corruption. This led to interim president and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. delivering a speech that promised they would try harder to listen and include marginalized voices. However, the boycotts from major celebrities and outrage amongst fans is indicative of how far the Grammys still has in mending their mistakes.
Overall, the night went quite smoothly despite restrictions due to COVID-19 and featured some stellar performances, but the night was plagued with heavy controversy that will continue to need to be addressed.