2021 Grammy Awards show humanity, normalcy

The Grammy Awards continue to entertain audiences even in unprecedented times.

Capri Scarcelli | a&e editor


The Grammy Awards continue to entertain audiences even in unprecedented times.

Who would’ve thought an award show in the middle of a pandemic could still be so charming?

The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards kicked off in the warm skies of Los Angeles. in a large outdoor tent, adorned with floral pieces, delicate vines and dainty string lights that made the show feel like magic again.

Hosted by The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, he assured the audience that the select celebrities present were socially-distanced and fashionably masked for CDC protocols, with microphones on opposite sides of the stage for less contact. Performers eagerly awaited their time to shine inside the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Noah was quick-witted and concise with his speeches in between awards and performances; he was ready at any moment to crack a joke or awe over the winners. From one award to the next, there was a musical interlude that brought excitement to the announcements, with anticipating audience members rocking back and forth in their seats to hear “and the Grammy goes to.” Along with this, the award show gave artist introductions for each performer, giving a little background on their career and prior works before their moment in the spotlight.

The first performance of the night probably garnered the most publicity, and for good reason: Harry Styles wooed fans with a black leather suit and a bright green feather boa, crooning to his hit single “Watermelon Sugar,” which eventually won him the award for Best Pop Solo Performance.

The comradery of the artists was admirable, as pop artist Billie Eilish nodded along to Styles’ performance, seamlessly transitioning into her own. Standing on a car in a glowing emerald smoke with a jeweled headpiece, Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted” was nothing short of mesmerizing with her low vocals and minimalistic stature. Eilish was awarded Best Song Written for Visual Media with her single “No Time to Die” as well as Record of the Year for “Everything I Wanted.” When accepting the award, Eilish said she was “embarrassed” to beat out rapper Megan Thee Stallion, taking half of her speech to apologize for her not winning.

“You deserve this,” Eilish said. “You had a year that I think is untoppable. You are a queen. I want to cry thinking about how much I love you… genuinely, this goes to her. Can we just cheer for Megan Thee Stallion please?”

This caused some controversy, as some believed Eilish was being humble, as others believe it was a common Grammy trope for a white artist to mention a more-deserving Black artist in their speech to highlight the lack of representation in the award show nominations. Eventually, she took the award with grace.

Megan Thee Stallion still won big, as she won the awards for Best New Artist, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance for her single “Savage” featuring Beyoncé.

Megan performed with rap artist Cardi B, where the TikTok trend “W.A.P.” finally came to life. They truly did not hold back with the choreography, and even Noah made a slightly creepy one-liner about being in bed with Megan and Cardi. Doja Cat performed soon thereafter, another TikTok hit taking the stage with “Say So,” including the choreography that everyone has been doing in their bedrooms since the quarantine hit.

As for Beyoncé? She made strides and made history while doing it, tying country singer Alison Krauss with 27 awards, then half an hour later breaking the record for most Grammys won by any male or female artist with a whopping 28 Grammys under her belt. This was announced with standing ovations and cheers after Beyoncé’s Best R&B Performance win with Black Parade, which also makes her daughter, Blue Ivy, the second-youngest performer to ever win a Grammy.

“This is so overwhelming. I have been working my whole life since I was nine-years-old. And I can’t believe this happened. This is such a magical night.” Beyoncé said.

K-pop group BTS even made Grammy history as the first Korean music group to perform at the Grammys. Although they did not win, they were nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, which was given to Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga for their single “Rain on Me.”

Adding to the magic of the night, Taylor Swift’s whole aura felt like a dream. In a popping flowery dress with matching mask, Swift performed her singles “Cardigan,” “August” and “Willow” in a short medley, which was simply a jaw-dropping cottage core dream. It was whimsical, fun and probably the most captivating performance of the night. No wonder Swift won Album of the Year with Folklore. Along these lines, Best Country Album went to Miranda Lambert for her album Wildcard, as Best Pop Vocal Album went to Dua Lipa for Future Nostalgia, accompanied by touching performances from both artists. Song of the Year went to R&B artist H.E.R. for her single “I Can’t Breathe,” a momentous piece about the tragedies and uproar surrounding the death of George Floyd.

With new records and old ones, the Grammys also paid tribute to the artists that passed away since 2020, including performances honoring the late Bill Withers, Little Richard, Eddie Van Halen, Mary Wilson, Kenny Rogers and more. This was done in a beautiful compilation of photos rotating on the screen with snippets of songs from each artist.  Toward the end of the award show, there was an announcement of condemnation toward any racism, sexism, anti-semitism and other forms of discrimination. It said that all nominees and winners should be honored and respected for the work they put out in the past year.

The liveliness, the humanity, the raw energy of the award show radiated what music is truly about. With natural awkward interactions, like Lizzo fighting to open the announcement envelope, Ringo Starr referring to The Beatles as “that band I used to be in,” everyone jumping a little when a car beeped outside — it felt genuine, reminding us that these artists we listen to and look up to — they are regular people, too.

You can still stream the Grammy Awards on Paramount+ or get the full list of nominees and award winners at grammy.com.