2021 Grammy Recap


Creator: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

Karyna Hetman

The 63rd Grammy Awards, music’s biggest night, has come and gone this past Sunday, March 14, breaking records and traditions in response to the pandemic. This year, the Grammys had to work around COVID-19 restrictions to keep an entertaining show while keeping people safe. The biggest noticeable difference was the complete lack of audience, making the performances quiet without the cheering from fans. Nonetheless, the show must go on; this year’s Grammys had a talented lineup of performances, and the artists showed up with the same great spirits and jaw-dropping looks–all while following the safety precautions with poise.

The award show took place in two locations: a rooftop outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and a mini-stage inside the Staples Center. The artists sat at socially distanced tables on the sunny, florally-decorated rooftop with their plus-one guest for the announcement of the awards. Inside the Staples Center, artists took turns performing on the mini-stage and cheered each other on while waiting for their curtain call. Additionally, before each performance, the artists were given a video montage, talking briefly about their rise to fame and journey to landing themselves a spot at the Grammys. This year’s host, Trevor Noah, swiftly conducted the viewers back and forth between locations, cracking jokes along the way. 

This year, various artists tuned in via Zoom to receive their awards. Prior to the start of the awards show, Burna Boy won Best World Music Album for Twice as Tall, and Thundercat won Best Progressive R&B Album for It Is What It Is. Additionally, Kaytranada won Best Dance Recording for the single “10%”, featuring Kali Uchis, as well as Best Dance/Electronic Album for Bubba. These artists received their awards and made acceptance speeches from their homes, a familiar occurrence in other award shows taking place this past year during the pandemic.

Harry Styles took to the stage first to perform his single “Watermelon Sugar”, which foreshadowed his win later in the night for Best Pop Solo Performance. Next, Billie Eilish sang “everything i wanted” in a serene, foggy set. Following Eilish was a trio, HAIM, with their song “The Steps”. There were many collaborative performances this year that were able to bring different sounds together to amplify their abundant talent. First came DaBaby and Roddy Rich with their hit “Rockstar”, in which they included a choir and a violinist to give the song a more classical and soft sound. DaBaby claimed his spot on the stage a second time while making a feature on Dua Lipa’s “Levitating”. Silk Sonic, a duo of Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars’ silky voices, belted out their song together, “Leave the Door Open”. After Megan Thee Stallion’s jazz take on her single “Body”, she performed her hit “WAP” alongside Cardi B. Other notable performances include: Taylor Swift’s medley performance on a magical forest set, Bad Bunny with “Dákiti”, Post Malone’s  “Hollywood’s Bleeding”, “Say SO” by Doja Cat, and BTS performing “Dynamite”. Lil Baby gave a performance with a strong message for his song “The Bigger Picture” where he stepped past a wall of officers in a staged scene of police brutality, a backdrop of fireworks behind him. Speaking on this powerful performance, Lil Baby said, “Nominations aside, actually performing ‘The Bigger Picture’ means the most to me. I paint pictures with my songs and wanted the performance to bring that picture to life. Just like with the song, this performance had to reflect the real. No sugarcoating.” 

The first award presented during the show went to Megan Thee Stallion for Best New Artist, this being her first-ever Grammy. The awards did not stop there for her, as she also took home the Grammy for Best Rap Song for “Savage” and Best Rap Performance. Next, the Latin Grammy Award for Best Pop or Urban Album went to Bad Bunny for YHLQMDLG. The notorious Song of the Year award went to H.E.R. for her powerful statement song  “I Can’t Breathe”. The next big category, Album of the Year, went to Taylor Swift for Folklore. In the country music genre, Miranda Lambert won the Grammy for Best Country Album with Wildcard. Moving onto the rock category, Best Rock Album went to The Strokes for The New Abnormal. A groundbreaking record was broken this year as Beyoncé took home her 28th Grammy for Best R&B Performance with “Black Parade”, making her the vocalist with the most Grammys ever. In addition to this big news, it was also the second time in three years in which Black artists have won two of the Big Four Grammy awards. The final award of the night went to Billie Eilish, winning Record of the Year for “everything i wanted”. Her acceptance speech sparked buzz after she announced, “This is really embarrassing for me. Megan, girl… I was going to write a speech about how you deserve this. But then I was like, ‘There’s no way they’re gonna choose me.’ I was like, ‘It’s hers.’ Genuinely, this goes to her. Can we just cheer for Megan Thee Stallion, please?”

Although this year’s Grammy Awards show looked different from those prior, it was nonetheless a memorable one because of the records broken and the spectacular performances that will be a highlight in all of the artists’ careers. Hopefully, next year’s show will bring rich, new talent as well as a roaring audience.