This past Sunday, some of the biggest names in music gathered together in Los Angeles to watch, win and/or lose at the 63rd Grammy Awards.
Hosted by Trevor Noah, South African comedian and host of the “Daily Show,” the three-hour broadcast took on the challenge of encouraging camaraderie in a world plagued by a year of isolation.
Following the Golden Globes, which felt like one, big dreaded Zoom call with some of Hollywood’s biggest names, many viewers were hesitant to welcome another award show celebrating people that have enjoyed the past year on private planes and in the Caribbean.
But, the Grammys, which were originally set to air on Jan. 31, had promised to take a different approach as the ceremony had a new executive producer, Ben Winston, and needed to find a unique way to create a pandemic friendly award show.
The night started off strong, with performances from heartthrob Harry Styles — who charmingly sported a green boa & was joined on stage by Blood Orange — Billie Eilish who performed "Everything I Wanted", which would later go on to win Record of the Year and HAIM.
All of that happened within the first twenty minutes of the show and despite a lingering loneliness, something about the intimate setting of so many talented musicians in one place reminded viewers of what once was and could be in the near-future.
Rather than focusing the night around the awards, which have genuinely lost some of their flare over the past few years, the night centered around what it’s meant to celebrate: music! It was refreshing to see and hear from some of music’s biggest and best, after the entire industry has suffered tremendous loss due to COVID-19.
On top of the star-studded list of celebs you’d get a glimpse of when the show got back from a commercial break, the Grammy’s paid tribute to independent music venues across the country that have been suffering in the wake of the pandemic. It also highlighted contributions made to the industry by women and certain artists amplified the Black Lives Matter movement.
Artist Lil Baby used his performance to shine a light on police brutality and the history Black people have faced in this country for over 400 years. Country artist Mickey Guynton performed her hit “Black Like Me,’ which highlights racial inequality and her experience as a black woman in country music.
Nothing felt too forced or scripted, artists were themselves and for the first time in the shows history, we got to see those artists celebrate the work of their peers. In a rather competitive industry, it’s hard to imagine some of the most successful superstars being fans of those they aim to edge off the charts. But, the show suggested otherwise and reminded viewers of a shared humanity that shines through with the light of music.
Bad Bunny danced along to Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift gave Harry Styles a standing ovation after his win for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Watermelon Sugar” and Billie Eilish shared her embarrassment after winning an award over Megan Thee Stallion, who she went on to praise.
The show gave viewers a unique chance to see some of their favorite artists interact with one another. If you’ve ever imagined what one big dinner party would be like with some of your most streamed artists on Spotify, fear not, the 2021 Grammy’s have you covered.
The night did give away a few awards and some of the night’s biggest winners included Taylor Swift and her album “folklore,” which took home Album of the Year. Megan The Stallion stole the show in more ways than one. She took home three awards and accepted the Grammy for Best Rap Performance alongside her idol Beyoncé for their collaboration on Meg’s track, “Savage.” Her performance of “WAP” with Cardi B had heads turning and people talking and it’s safe to say as an artist, she’s only just begun.
Speaking of Beyoncé, the Houston-native and untouchable superstar set a new record as the most Grammy-awarded female artist ever. She now has won 28 Grammy awards throughout her career. Her daughter Blue Ivy is following in her footsteps, as she brought home a Grammy for her feature on the track ‘Brown Skin Girl,’ which won Best Music Video.
Overall, the night was fun, light-hearted and mimicked a music festival we might never get another chance to see. Despite it’s lower ratings 一 here I offer the question: who cares? 一 the night engaged viewers in an entirely new and different way. It could have easily followed in the Globes’ footsteps and zoomed in celebs across the globe and lacked any real intimacy.
But, the Grammy’s rose to the occasion rather well and have outlined a format for awards shows to follow for as long as mass gatherings take a pause. Even then, the Grammy's we saw this past weekend were more fun to watch than they've been in the past. This is a cool example of COVID-19 forcing big forces in the industry to rethink what once was.
Watching three hours of live music felt like a bittersweet reminder of our days at concerts or festivals, care-free and ignorant to personal space. The Grammy’s were one of the rare events of a past year overwhelmed with pandemic pandemonium that tried to make people feel good and succeeded.