Harry Styles opens the show with a thrilling thirst trap performance
Music's biggest night in 2021 was incredible for so many artists — especially female music stars — but things looked very different than in previous years. As has been the norm for award shows during the coronavirus pandemic, there were few audience members in attendance at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, and the red carpet was, for many artists, virtual. Plus, in a twist from previous years, the presenters weren't only celebrities — in 2021, producers included employees of independent music venues that have been hard-hit by the global health crisis. So, how did the evening work out? Did the performances have the same gravitas they usually do? (Believe it or not, they almost felt… better and more authentic than usual this year?!) Did host Trevor Noah manage to smoothly carry us through the awards, which took place at the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center next door? (Yes!) How political did he get? (Not very.) Did he address recent backlash thrown at the Recording Academy, especially by The Weeknd? (No — but near the end of the show, Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy's interim president and CEO, did in a video in which he asked artists to "work with us not against us to build a new Recording Academy … [that will] serve everyone in the industry.") Unfortunately for CBS, which carried the awards, the numbers were nothing to sing about: Early estimates show that only 8.8 million total viewers watched from across multiple platforms, down 10 million viewers from last year. It was the lowest rated telecast in Grammys history, based on the early numbers. Still, it was the highest rated broadcast of the night, and it was the most-streamed Grammys show with 83% more livestreams compared to 2020. The show itself was memorable for those who did watch, kicking off in a big way with Harry Styles! The former One Direction singer had viewers swooning with his first ever Grammys performance. The tattooed Brit went shirtless in a custom leather Gucci suit as he performed his hit "Watermelon Sugar," and the thirst was real, especially on Twitter. Even music star Bebe Rexha tweeted, "Damn Harry styles. Jeezzzz." Harry started off strong — which left the Grammys feeling some type of way… Keep reading to find out what and who had everyone buzzing at the 2021 Grammys on March 14…
Taylor Swift makes history with third album of the year win
After being shut out for most of the evening, Taylor Swift's moment came when "folklore" won album of the year, which is arguably the biggest award of the evening. In her speech, she thanked her team and collaborators and the Grammys. Interestingly enough, she also brought up her boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn, which is surprising since they're such a private couple. "I just wanna say thank you to Joe, who's the first person I play every single song I write to and for writing songs with me," she said. "I had the best time writing songs with you in quarantine." Taylor also thanked Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and their children (who get to hear the songs after Joe). Taylor also made history: She became first woman to win album of the year three times. She previously won with "Fearless" and "1989."
Rapper Megan Thee Stallion wins best new artist
Megan Thee Stallion was downright emotional after winning best new artist — which made her the first female rapper to take home the prize since Lauryn Hill in 1999. When Meg's name was announced, she appeared stunned and hardly moved from her chair. As she removed her mask and made her way to the stage, she fought back tears. She was even speechless while standing in front of the microphone. "I don't wanna cry," she said. Her raw emotion had viewers getting emotional. But Megan succeeded in her mission: she didn't cry (at least not on camera). That's not the only major award she took home…
Beyonce makes history!
Another day, another history-making Beyonce moment! When Queen B won the Grammy for best rap song with Megan Thee Stallion for their "Savage" remix, she, as host Trevor Noah explained to the audience, "just tied the all-time record for most Grammy wins ever by a female artist and by any singer, male or female." Beyonce's tied [with Alison Krauss] at 27 Grammys — what an achievement!" But not too long later, Bey broke the record when she won the trophy for best R&B performance for "Black Parade." In her speech, she referenced another family member — and it's not husband JAY-Z — who won a Grammy earlier in the day, which made the victory even more special…
Blue Ivy Carter wins her first Grammy at 9
Beyonce and JAY-Z are feeling "blue" because of the Grammys — and that's a good thing. The couple's daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, became a Grammy winner at the tender age of 9. She's the second youngest person to ever win a Grammy. Beyonce and Blue (and Wizkid) won for best music video for "Brown Skin Girl." Blue has a verse in the song and her name is listed as a collaborator. She's also featured in the music video alongside her famous mom. The song and video were part of Beyonce's album "The Lion King: The Gift."
Dua Lipa thinks pink for epic, energetic performance
Is there a hotter artist right now than Dua Lipa? The six-time nominee performed "Levitating" and "Don't Start Now," and she BROUGHT it. After singing and dancing her disco-loving heart out in a hot pink outfit for her first hit in the medley, she quickly tossed her robe-style gown to the side to reveal another incredible look — a glittering two-piece ensemble also in pink. Twitter said things like this: "Sometimes I can't believe that I get to breathe the same air as @DUALIPA." Also "DUA LIPA ATE THE GRAMMYS AND SPIT THEM OUT." How about "Dua Lipa consumed and left no crumbs." It's hard to argue. It's Dua's world. We're just living in it. That was made even clearer later in the night when the British singer won best pop vocal album for "Future Nostalgia."
Dear John: Welcome back
John Mayer has still got it. The musician collaborated with country star Maren Morris for her performance of "The Bones" on the Grammys stage. And, no surprise here, he slayed on the guitar, adding an extra "umph" to the Grammy-nominated track. Prior to the show, Maren told People magazine, "'The Bones' has taken on a life of its own during the pandemic and so to, kind of, solidify it here at the Grammys with a performance will be really special." Since John has always been a lightning rod for people's opinions, social media was torn on what to think of him on the Grammys stage again. One thing you can't knock, though, is John's ability to shred on the guitar. Let's best honest here, he also still looks pretty good!
Billie Eilish is the new Adele
Billie Eilish didn't feel like she should have won record of the year for "Everything I Wanted." While accepting her seventh Grammy and second of the night, Billie said Megan Thee Stallion should have taken the honor. "You deserve this," Billie told Megan from the stage. "You had a year that I think is untoppable. You are a queen… Genuinely, this goes to her. Can we just cheer for Megan Thee Stallion, please?" The moment was reminiscent of the 2017 Grammys when Adele won album and record of the year and said the awards should have gone to Beyonce. "My dream and my idol is Queen B and I adore you. You move my soul every single day and you have done for nearly 17 years," Adele said at the time. Billie and Megan are the new Adele and Bey.
John Prine wins two posthumous Grammys
John Prine, the dearly beloved musician who passed away in April 2020 from complications of COVID-19, continues to impact the music world. Hours before the primetime show aired, the singer-songwriter won two posthumous Grammys for his final song, "I Remember Everything." His victories for best American roots performance and best American roots song were announced during the afternoon portion of the Grammys, which are not televised. Shortly before his tragic death, John was one of the handful of Special Merit Awards recipients at the 2020 Grammys who took home a lifetime achievement award.
Bruno and Anderson deliver a silky-smooth time machine performance
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak's Silk Sonic project made its Grammys debut, and it was as smooth as you would expect. The duo performed "Leave the Door Open" and there was a serious '70s vibe (and we mean that in a good way!) going on. After the performance, Trevor Noah said he couldn't wait to dance to that song "at every wedding for the rest of my life." Bruno never disappoints. We feel like we need to go out and buy a Cadillac right now.
Phoebe Bridgers… killed it
Grammy nominee Phoebe Bridgers delighted fans when she hit the Grammys red carpet in a glamorous designer version of the casual skeleton onesie she wears on the cover of her "Punisher" album, in her "Kyoto" music video and even on stage. "I wear a skeleton costume all the time," the musician told Giuliana Rancic on E!'s Grammys red carpet preshow. She said her sheer, beaded skeleton gown, which was designed by Thom Browne for his spring 2018 collection, helped her signature look. "I asked for it… I basically stole it," she quipped.
Taylor delights with woodlands cabin set
Taylor Swift's Grammy's performance was a glimpse into her 2020, during which she released two albums within six months. The singer, who already has a trove of Grammys to her name, performed a mash-up of songs from her "folklore" and "evermore" albums including "Cardigan," "August" and "Willow." In a year where the Grammys let artists design their sets, Taylor's was next-level. She began her performance perched on the grass-covered roof of a home nestled in the woods. Inside the house were Jack Antonoff and The National's Aaron Dessner, who collaborated on her albums and played guitar and piano alongside her during the Grammys. After the medley, Trevor Noah's "The Daily Show" hilariously tweeted, "Fun fact: Taylor Swift is also an Airbnb superhost."
"WAP" is tweaked for primetime
Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B's performance of "WAP" must have had the CBS censors and the FCC sweating with its serious sexual undertones: The women crawled around on a set in the shape of a bed. Cardi danced on a stripper pole. And the women happily shook their, ahem, assets. It must have been very awkward for those watching the Grammys with their parents. Just saying. On the bright side, the women didn't curse during the song, which has some VERY explicit lyrics.
Lil Baby stuns with timely, powerful performance
Lil Baby might have delivered the most provocative performance of the night, which took place outdoors on a closed-off street and addressed police brutality. Killer Mike was featured as well. The images, set to his song "The Bigger Picture," imitated the images we saw over the summer during Black Lives Matter protests. The song even addressed President Joe Biden in the middle of the performance. Social justice Leader Tamika D. Mallory said, "President Biden, we demand justice, equity, policy and everything else that freedom encompasses." Some on Twitter thought it was the performance of the night.
Why winner Fiona Apple wasn't there
Are you looking for Fiona Apple at the Grammys? Well, despite winning two awards, she's not on hand because she doesn't want to get drunk. "I'm not gonna be at the Grammys. It's not because I'm trying to protest even though I have problems with the Grammys," she said in a social media video posted by filmmaker and friend Zelda Hallman. "It's just really because I don't want to be on national television. I'm just not made for that kind of stuff. I wanna stay sober and I can't do that sober. It doesn't feel safe to me to be in that kind of exposure, scrutiny [and] comparison to people."
The spectre of The Weeknd's Grammy snubs hangs over 2021 show
It's impossible to speak about the 2021 Grammys without talking about The Weeknd being snubbed. The singer has had beef with the Recording Academy ever since his album "After Hours" was totally shut out of any Grammy nods in 2021, which puzzled many due to the massive success of his songs from the project including "Blinding Lights," which broke Billboard records. After nominations were announced and his name was nowhere to be found, The Weeknd – who's previously won three Grammys — lashed out on social media, writing, "The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…" Then, on March 11, he said he's boycotting the show forever and will not allow his label to submit his music for Grammys consideration anymore. In other words, don't expect The Weeknd to win another Grammy ever again.
DaBaby gives fans something different and unexpected
Didn't see that coming, did ya! Four-time nominee DaBaby performed his hit "Rockstar" along with a choir. It was dramatic and very different than the radio version, and Twitter seemed to be living for it, especially because the choir was made up of white women, all of whom appeared to be older… Twitter, which typically has no shame, commonly referred to them as "grandmas." Forget the Grammys, this was the grannies!
Annual "in memoriam" segment ups the emotion and connection
The in-memoriam segment of the Grammys was far different than usual. Much more attention was paid to those we've lost than the telecast has done in previous years. Typically, names are displayed across a screen as music plays, and that happened this year too, but with so many major artists who've died over the past year, the Grammys stepped it up in 2021. Lionel Richie, for instance, paid tribute to Kenny Rogers in singing "Lady." Bruno Mars covered Little Richard. A spotlight was put on Eddie Van Halen's guitar when his name was displayed. Brandi Carlile covered John Prine's "I Remember Everything," his final song. John, of course, died of COVID-19 complications in April 2020. Brittany Howard and Chris Martin finished out the rest of the segment while performing Gerry & The Pacemakers' iconic "You'll Never Walk Alone," all while goodbyes to music industry powerhouses like Joe Diffie, Andrew Harrell and Billy Joe Shaver flashed on the screen behind them. The moments were poignant and heartfelt. Well done, Grammys.
Why Justin Bieber skipped the show
Despite being up for four Grammys, Justin Bieber had no plans to be on hand to collect any hardware if he won… and he's not "sorry" about it either. Three days ahead of the show, Page Six reported that the Biebs decided to snub the awards because he's not performing and remains upset that his album "Changes" was nominated for best pop album rather than best R&B album. When noms were announced in November 2020, Justin complained about the category he was in. "I am very meticulous and intentional about my music. With that being said, I set out to make an R&B album," he explained on Instagram. "'Changes' was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album, which is very strange to me." Side note: John Legend won the best R&B album Grammy. Meanwhile, Justin won a Grammy during the untelevised portion of the show — for best country duo/group performance for his contributions to Dan + Shay's "10,000 HOURS."
BTS perform atop a helipad in South Korea
BTS might be the most committed group ever. The uber-popular K-Pop band performed "Dynamite" toward the end of the show, and it looked like they were in Los Angeles. But no, they were in South Korea — and they recreated the Grammys set. It was seamless. They also rented a helipad to finish their performance on top of a building. Afterward, host Trevor Noah said, "They were in Seoul, Korea, the whole time. They literally recreated our whole set over there, 'cause they couldn't be here, but they wanted to be here, so then they rebuilt here, over there.. I mean.. there should be an award just for that.. that was amazing!" Bravo, BTS, bravo.
Calls to cancel comedian Bill Burr
Bill Burr was trending on Twitter on Grammy Sunday, and many were calling for him to be "canceled" after his appearance on the Grammys pretelecast. The comedian presented the award for best tropical Latin album and said that "feminists are like, going nuts" because of it. Then, seemingly imitating what people were saying, he added, "Why is this cis-white male doing all this Latino stuff." The "woke" police on Twitter were not feeling it. His fans, though, delighted in his comedy. A mixed reaction, no doubt.
What Lady Gaga was doing when she won with Ariana Grande
For Lady Gaga, winning a Grammy is a big snooze. On Sunday, the singer and Ariana Grande won the award for best pop duo/group performance for their hit "Rain on Me." Gaga, though, was meditating the moment their prize was announced. Ariana had some fun, tweeting, "MOTHER MONSTER WAKE UP @ladygaga !!!!!!!!???" She added, "eternally, deeply grateful for u, for this experience, to have been a part of this song and this celebration of healing and recovery. grateful to be able to dance in the rain with u, to call u my dear friend, and to now share this. beyond thankful. congratulations queen, ti voglio bene." Gaga (seen here with Ari performing their hit at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards) is watching the awards from Italy, where she's filming a movie with Adam Driver.
Should this rapper go country?
Could Cardi B be the next great country music star? Maybe that's a bit far fetched, but at least one chart-topping singer thinks Cardi has a future in Nashville. While chatting with E! on the network's Grammys red carpet preshow, Maren Morris said she wants to collaborate with the "WAP" rapper. "I think it would be epic," Maren said. "I love how real she is. She is so unfiltered, and she'd probably do well in country music, because we're pretty unfiltered too. I think we're about telling the truth and no B.S. That's her!"