CBS just aired the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards hosted by Trevor Noah, and even with the unusual Covid circumstances, the producers were able to create a fantastic show that succeeded in lifting the spirits of so many music fans and audiences. This year, the program was split between taking place on a set outdoors surrounding the Staples Center and an indoor stage for the show’s musical performances. Although this year’s Grammys did not hold an audience, the show was designed so that the artists would perform for each other inside the venue. The creative design of this year’s show illustrates the resilience of the industry to persevere during these unprecedented times. The program contained several great moments and honored many talented artists, and we even witnessed history being made.
The show opened with an amazing performance by none other but Harry Styles, who went home with his first Grammy tonight for best pop solo performance. Styles left everyone speechless with a special rendition of his hit single “Watermelon Sugar” accompanied by Blood Orange on guitar as well as his band, and to no one’s surprise, his fashion did not disappoint. Harry left our jaws on the floor when he stepped on stage in a leather suit jacket with matching leather flares from Gucci and we all appreciated the convenient absence of a shirt underneath. The look was completed with a green boa as a pop of color to the sexy all black outfit. Styles also rocked 2 more of his staple Gucci suits throughout the night, each accompanied with a boa to complete the looks.
Another highlight of the night was Dupa Lipa’s polished performance set consisting of amazing renditions of “Levitating” and “Don't Start Now”. Dua was accompanied with a dance troupe along with a feature from DaBaby, delivering the classic pop performance we needed last night. Dua also went home with a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album, making her a 3 time Grammy award winning artist.
We could never ignore the iconic collab performance of “WAP'' with Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B that everyone has been waiting for. The genuine friendship between the two is clear, making the performance extremely special. We saw several other duo sets throughout the night including the collaboration between Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez, Taylor Swift, Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff, and the long awaited performance with Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak.
Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak delivered performances that will be talked about for some time. The two performed their new single “Leave the Door Open”, which transported us back in time with the amazing retro style tune. Later in the night, Bruno also did a heartfelt tribute to Little Richard, performing renditions of “Golly Golly Miss Molly” and “Long Tall Sally”, where he served insane vocals with covers we never knew we needed to hear from Bruno.
The production team for this year’s Grammy Awards made sure to be creative in order to make this year’s show special even though it would look very different from previous years. As a tribute to the pandemic and the struggles that have come along with this year for so many venues and small business owners, this year’s program put the spotlight on historic small venues, allowing many of the owners to present awards and highlight their venues located around the world. The show featured places like the Station Inn in Nashville, the Troubadour in L.A., the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and the Hotel Cafe in L.A. and allowed them to share out pieces of history and speak out about their struggles during the times of covid within segments spread throughout the show. Many of these venues are a major part of the industry and the careers of several nominated artists, so the inclusion of these places within the show was heavily appreciated.
There has been a lot of controversy leading up to this year's Grammys that should be discussed as well. The academy has a persistent credibility problem, which became a large topic of discussion this year. Just before last year’s ceremony, it was revealed that Deborah Dugan, the former leader for the organisation, was kicked out following her allegations about the discrimination and rigged nomination and voting systems that are present in the academy. This information has brought many peoples attention to the unfair voting processes that take place within the academy that are both highly exclusive and secretive.
This has led many artists and professionals within the industry to speak about the lack of transparency in the Grammy Awards. After the Weeknd was not awarded any nominations at this year’s show even with the undeniable success of his album After Hours and its lead single “Blinding Lights'' which spent 52 weeks in the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100, he spoke out on social media and vowed against submitting his music to the recording academy for consideration in the future. He had said, “The Grammys remain corrupt” and called out the academy, saying, “You owe me, my fans, and the industry transparency”. Many other artists have also spoken out about the academy’s mistreatment of hip-hop and R&B music and the unfairness within the committees that make the decisions. Just before this year’s show, Zayn Malik called out the academy in a tweet, accusing them of having a system that “allows favoritism, racism and networking politics to influence the voting process.”
In response to this year’s controversy surrounding the exclusivity of the recording academy, the organisation had invited 2,300 industry professionals to join the academy with half of them being women and half being under the age of 40 in order to begin reversing the stigma that the recording academy and its committees consist mostly of old, white men within the industry. This is a step in the right direction for the Grammys, though there is still much work to be done to make the processes more fair and inclusive in the future.
Although the controversy present in the academy should not be ignored and the obvious issues to do with the lack of transparency with the nominations and voting processes should not be overlooked, we can still celebrate the great wins for women in music that took place last night.
A major highlight of this year’s show was the fact that the awards given out Sunday evening made Grammy history. Beyoncé, who was nominated for 9 awards this year, broke the record for the most Grammys won by a female artist after her 4 wins for best R&B performance, best rap performance, best rap song, and best music video. She is now named as the most awarded singer ever, male or female. Taylor Swift also broke records after her win of album of the year for the third time with Folklore, making her the first woman to do so. Along with being a first time Grammy award winner and taking home 3 awards throughout the night, Megan the Stallion made history with Beyoncé as the first pair of women to win in the best rap performance category. Billie Eilish took home 2 more Grammys this year and was named the first solo artist of the 21st century to win record of the year twice in a row.
At this year’s ceremony, all “big four” categories were won by women, and we can celebrate the fact that all nominees in the best new artist category were either women or people of color, and 3 out of the 8 nominees were part of the LGBTQ+ community. With 45.8% of the 2021 Grammy wins going to women, the year’s show can be seen as a historic night for women in music. View a full list of this year's nominees and winners at The Recording Academy website.
This year’s Grammy awards did not fail to deliver with several iconic fashion moments, heavily anticipated musical performances and collaborations, historic achievements in the music industry, and endless other highlights that will be talked about in the music world for the year to come. This year’s show certainly did not look like ones we have seen in previous years, but they succeeded in making the most out of current covid circumstances, bringing the music and live performance experiences that we have missed so much this last year back for one incredible night. We cannot wait to see what this next year of music has in store!