Words: Dylan Murphy
The GRAMMYs inevitably looked a little different this year, however in the lead up to the socially-distanced ceremony the same controversy that has surrounded the opaque decision-making process remained.
Right before the 2021 edition of the biggest night in music, Canadian singer The Weeknd revealed in The New York Times that he would boycott the awards from now on. The announcement came after his album After Hours was snubbed by The GRAMMYs completely and he stated he would no longer allow his label to submit music to the awards “because of the secret committees”. He’s not the first artist to publicly call out The GRAMMYs, following the likes of Frank Ocean and fellow Canadian Drake in showing their displeasure with the secrecy of the voting process and perceived bias against minority artists.
The ceremony itself was not short of dramatic moments this year, with plenty of records being broken and noteable speeches. Meanwhile, the performances made for an innovative approach to live music in the midst of a global pandemic with a number of stages circling the crowd and the cameras flicking seamlessly between the performances.
Here’s the key takeaways from last night’s proceedings:
Beyoncé made history becoming the most nominated female artist ever, with nine nods across eight categories on the night, resulting in a total of 28 nominations in her illustrious career.
Bey won Best RnB Performance for ‘Black Parade’ and her feature on the remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘Savage’ took home top honours for Best Rap Song. Megan etched her name in the history books with that win representing the first time a woman has won the award Best Rap Song. Additionally the visuals for ‘Brown Skin Girl’ won Best Music Video.
Bey equalled Qunicy Jones’ total of 28 Grammys, only Sir Georg Solti has more nominations – 31.
Elsewhere, Taylor Swift’s Folklore took home album of the year making the singer the first female act to win album of the year three times.
The GRAMMYs routinely result in raised eyebrows and this year was no different. Billie Eilish won her second consecutive Record of the Year for ‘everything i wanted’, but told the smaller-than-usual crowd that Megan Thee Stallion should have recieved the award for her chat-topping collaboration with Beyoncé – ‘Savage’.
“This is really embarrassing for me,” she said last night.
“Megan, girl… I was gonna write a speech about how you deserve this but then I was like, ‘There’s no way they’re going to choose me.’ I was like, ‘It’s hers.’ You deserve this. You had a year that I think is un-stoppable. You are a queen—I want to cry thinking about how much I love you… You deserve everything in the world, I think about you constantly… You deserve it.”
Canadian production maestro Kaytranada took home prizes for Best Dance/Electronic Album for his sophomore album Bubba and Best Dance Recording for ‘10%’ featuring Kali Uchis.
It provided a landmark moment for DIY producers who cut their teeth on Soundcloud for a number of years to see the producer pip acts like Arca, Baauer and Disclosure to the awards.
More importantly, Kaytranada became the first black artist to win a GRAMMY for electronic/dance. Here’s how Twitter reacted:
In an unprecedented year, much of the music that connected with people reflected a time of social and political upheaval.
Anderson .Paak took beat Travis Scott, Drake and Roddy Rich for Best Melodic Rap Performance for his single ‘Lockdown’ which commented on the state of racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s death during lockdown. Elsewhere, H.E.R took home Song of the Year for ‘I Can’t Breathe’ and Lil Baby had arguably the most compelling performance of the night for his protest anthem ‘The Bigger Picture.
On the other hand, during one of the most difficult years of our lives, artists that brought otherworldly soundscapes and escapism also triumphed.
Dua Lipa won Best Pop Vocal Album for her spacey disco-infused pop album Future Nostalgia, whereas Taylor Swift’s enchanting Folklore took home Best Album.
Ye won Best Contemporary Christian Music Album at The GRAMMYs last night. It came after he posted a video on Twitter in September peeing on one of his awards.
Find the winners of the main categories below: