At the Grammy Awards, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish made history. Similarly, hundreds of musicians who had been mostly sidelined for a year due to the pandemic were able to make music again.
The Grammy Awards on Sunday defied the Zoom trap that has plagued other award shows with a remarkably intimate evening that felt like viewers were welcomed into a private club with their favorite artists at its finest.
The four most coveted Grammy Awards were won by four different women. Swift’s “folklore” was named album of the year; Eilish’s “All I Wanted” was named record of the year for the second year in a row; H.E.R.’s topical “I Can’t Breathe” was named song of the year; and Megan Thee Stallion was named best new artist.
The four awards that Beyoncé has earned Sunday brought her up to 28 Grammys in her career, more than any other female artist. Last Juneteenth, her celebration of Black culture, “Black Parade,” won best R&B performance, and she shared two awards with Megan Thee Stallion for their collaboration on “Savage.”
She is tied with Quincy Jones for the second most Grammys ever, and she is chasing down the champion, late conductor George Solti, who won 31.
Husband Jay-Z, who won his 23rd Grammy on Sunday for songwriting on “Savage,” and even their 9-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, who won best music video with mom, add to the family trophy case.
Beyoncé said, “This is such a magical night.”
Swift, who used the pandemic as an excuse to record a new album and re-record one of her older ones, became the first woman to win the Grammy for album of the year for the third time. It’s also been done by Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, and Frank Sinatra. She won for “Fearless” in 2009 and “1989” in 2015.
On the Grammys, she performed a medley of three songs with collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, including “cardigan” and “august” from “folklore” and “willow” from “evermore.”
“I want to express my gratitude to the fans,” she said. “In this magical world that we built, you guys met us.”
Eilish became just the third artist to win back-to-back Grammys for album of the year following her sweep last year. Roberta Flack won for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in 1973 and “Killing Me Softly With His Song” in 1974, while U2 won for “Beautiful Day” and “Walk On” in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
Eilish almost gave the award away when she and her collaborator-brother Finneas accepted it. Megan Thy Stallion was moved to tears when she said that the rapper deserved the Grammy for “Savage.”
Due to the pandemic, CBS host Trevor Noah hosted the Grammy Awards on an outdoor stage set up across from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, with only a few nominees and guests in attendance.
The shows were held at the Staples Center, but several artists performed at the same time, such as when Harry Styles, HAIM, and Eilish opened the show. Artists were captured on camera enjoying their fellow nominees, such as when country singer Mickey Guyton softly sang along to Miranda Lambert and Post Malone proudly held up a red cup in glee at Cardi B and Stallion’s performance of “WAP.”
According to British singer Jacob Collier, it created an atmosphere unlike any other Grammy display.
Collier, who received his fifth Grammy, said, “There was something really unique about how intimate it was, and to have it stripped back and just to be hanging out with those fellow nominees was just fantastic.” “Communal celebration has a special significance for me, particularly after all this time of silence and being alone.”
“I can’t wait to get out as a band,” Lambert said. Even though she wasn’t playing, Lizzo couldn’t help herself: “I’m presenting because I L-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-VE You
Some of the performances, such as Bruno Mars and Anderson.Silk Paak’s Sonic and Dua Lipa’s, looked like they were taking place on the set of “Soul Train” — just ask your parents.
Even in such a simple atmosphere, there was still space for spectacle: the massive bed for “WAP” belongs in the Grammy Hall of Fame. The elaborately choreographed scene in Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” recreated the police killing of Rayshard Brooks and the resulting violence.
The latter was joined by Beyoncé’s “Black Parade,” which she said was made to celebrate the world’s “beautiful Black kings and queens,” and H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” which was a reference to Black people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor who died at the hands of police.
“Keep the war that we had in us in the summer of 2020,” H.E.R. advised.
Because of the coronavirus deaths, the “in memoriam” segment was extended, with Lionel Richie paying tribute to Kenny Rogers, Silk Sonic honoring Little Richard, Brandi Carlile honoring John Prine, and Brittany Howard’s roof-rattling rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” followed by Chris Martin.
DaBaby’s “Rockstar,” Guyton’s “Black Like Me,” the first Black woman nominated for best country solo performance, and Black Pumas’ “Colors” were among the other standout performances.
H.E.R., Fiona Apple, and Kaytranda each took home two Grammys. Prine and Chick Corea both received two posthumous awards.
Kanye West won best contemporary Christian album for “Jesus is King,” Justin Bieber shared Dan + Shay’s country award for “10,000 Hours,” and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow won best spoken word album for “Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth.”