Women owned the night at the Grammys 2021 on Sunday — both in the performances and the precious hardware. The awards show was hosted by Trevor Noah outside the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Performances by female performers such as Billie Eilish, Brittany Howard and newly anointed Best New Artist winner Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B — in their first-ever live throwdown of their No. 1 smash “WAP” — ruled the night.
Meanwhile, Taylor Swift won her third Album of the Year Grammy — the most ever by any woman — for her quarantine LP “Folklore” — and Eilish won her second consecutive Record of the Year gramophone for “Everything I Wanted.”
H.E.R., in a stunning upset, captured Song of the Year for “I Can’t Breathe,” a tune written after George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement that intensified in its wake.
And the Queen B — Beyoncé, as if you didn’t know — broke country star Alison Krauss’ record for most Grammy wins ever by a female artist when she took home her 28th Grammy for Best R&B Performance for “Black Parade.”
That means women won all of the Big 4 categories — Record, Album and Song of the Year, plus Best New Artist. Now that’s some ladies night.
Hera are some of the best — and worst — moments that made the 63rd annual Grammys sing.
BEST: Harry Styles
He didn’t get any nominations in the Big 4 categories this year — and surely he deserved Record and Song of the Year nods for his No 1 solo hit “Watermelon Sugar” – but Harry Styles did get the honor of doing the opening performance at the Grammys.
And he rocked it in style.
Wearing a green feather boa over his black leather getup — sans shirt, the better to show off his tattoos — he swaggered through “Watermelon Sugar” to open the show, sounding great and looking even better.
If the real win at the Grammys is a killer performance — and let’s face it, it is — Styles delivered.
BEST: Billie Eilish
It must have been hard for Billie Eilish to pull herself together right after Harry Styles took the stage — you could practically see her trying to stay somewhat cool while grooving (and swooning) to his “Watermelon Sugar” performance — but she got right up from her primo seat and performed her Grqmmy-nominated hit “Everything I Wanted” — up for Record and Song of the Year — like it was no big deal.
Rocking her trademark neon green hair — with big bro and producer Finneas backing her up on the keys — Eilish continues to show a remarkable, haunting stage presence for someone who is still a teenager (she turned 19 in December).
Straight off, she justified exactly why she swept the Big Four categories — Record, Album and Song of the Year, plus Best New Artist — last year.
BEST: Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion
Seeing Lizzo — who lost Best New Artist to Billie Eilish last year— present that same award this year to Megan Thee Stallion was a black-girl-magic moment.
First off, Lizzo — who had been laying low during the pandemic — reminded us about her powerhouse pipes with a little a cappella belting riffing on “Cuz I Love U.”
Then she fittingly awarded a seemingly shocked Megan — who, as “Savage” as she is, wanted to cry — with the Best New Artist gramophone.
It was all love at that moment between black women making power moves in the music industry.
BEST: Black Pumas
Sometimes a real, pure Grammy moment happens that announces a new act to the world. That’s exactly what happened when Black Pumas performed its Grammy-nominated song “Colors.”
After being up for Best New Artist in 2020, the retro-soul duo came on even stronger in 2021 with Record and Album of the Year nods for “Colors” and their self-titled debut album, respectively.
And you could feel every bit of the soul — and message — in their performance of the uplifting, unifying “Colors.” It was a no-frills, straight-up-musicianship moment that reminded you of what the Grammys should be all about.
WORST: Dua Lipa
Few artists have had more cute boppity bops than Dua Lipa in the last few years. But the singer has yet to really deliver the kind of memorable live performance that would put her in the same conversation as other dance-pop divas such as Madonna, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Beyoncé and Rihanna.
She’s just not on their level.
And as gorgeous as she looked through several costumes changes in a performance of current single “Levitating,” featuring a cameo from remix collaborator DaBaby, and “Don’t Start Now” — which was up for both Record and Song of the Year — it all just felt stiff and flat.
Even when the 2019 Best New Artist winner resorted to stripping down to what was essentially a sparkly pink bikini, it was just kinda meh.
WORST: Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak
Yeah, it was pretty funny that Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak lobbied for a performance slot on the Grammys to introduce their new duo Silk Sonic because “we just want to sing.” But hearing them do their new single “Leave the Door Open” was more of an American Music Awards moment than a Grammy one.
It’s very rare for a new song that is not nominated to get its premiere live performance on music’s biggest night and, quite frankly, this wasn’t worthy of it. As much as it must have been hard for the Grammys to deny Mars — who has won 11 gramophones — this cheapened what the awards are supposed to be all about.
And the fact that it looked like a video — dusted off from some old reel-to-reel tape from the ’70s — rather than a real live performance didn’t help matters. But Mars — the consummate showman that he is — redeemed that dubious appearance with his Little Richard tribute later on in the show.
WORST: Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s quarantine album “Folklore” was an LP that captured the isolation that we were feeling in 2020. But its stark alt-folk intimacy didn’t translate as well to the stage as it did on record.
With the Grammy darling accompanied by her collaborators Aaron Dessner of the National and Jack Antonoff of Fun, it all felt pretty staged and, um, kinda boring. As great as “Folklore” was for quarantine-and-chill moments, it just didn’t go anywhere live.
Swift could learn a thing or two from Billie Eilish about how to make moody music vibe live.
BEST: Brittany Howard
“You’ll Never Walk Alone” is one of those standards that has been run into the ground over the decades. But Brittany Howard, Grammy winner for Best Rock Song earlier in the night, breathed — make that, roared — new life into the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic with an inspired performance that made you feel like you could walk all the way from New York to Cali, pumped up and masked up.
Yeah, it was a little lame that Howard ended up singing the same song in a Johnnie Walker whiskey commercial shortly after her performance. But at that point, nothing could take away from the pandemic-surviving feels she gave us.