Megan Thee Stallion owned the stage, struggling indie locations got a much-needed spotlight, and the event turned out to be a pandemic awards show that didn’t look like a video conference

The 63 The annual Grammy Awards promised something else: for the first time in decades, a new executive producer was at the helm; a new host; and a new challenge – putting together a pandemic awards show that didn’t feel like a videoconference with a small audience of nominees outside of Los Angeles, the show highlighted women’s contributions and the impact of the Black Lives Matter protests and offered workers independent places of screen time put down by the pandemic and the extensive tributes to musicians we lost in that challenging year

Though she didn’t win the final and biggest category of the night, the record of the year, the Grammy night belonged to Megan Thee Stallion. She took home the three other awards she was nominated for: best new artist and for the remix of “Savage” with Beyoncé Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance Every speech was a salutary gift: words of exuberance from an artist who saw the first barrage of really widespread applause. But her confident performance was the loudest of all It opened with a bit of “Body” and turned out of the “Savage” remix into her part. The main focus, however, was on a performance of “WAP” with Cardi B, which was wild and charmingly intrusive, lively and genuine, how the Grammys seldom or never managed that it took place on CBS, historically the most conservative of all broadcast networks, was a kiss from chef JON CARAMANICA

First-time nominee Harry Styles started the show with a groovy, casually charismatic rendition of “Watermelon Sugar”, complete with an excellent backing band (Dev Hynes on bass!) and an immediately iconic feather boa Styles often gets the tricky Mick Jagger comparisons , but Styles has a much more relaxed – if not less magnetic – stage presence. “Watermelon Sugar” never sounded better than that performance, which made the ensuing surprise win for best pop solo performance all the more understandable. Something tells me that boa season LINDSAY ZOLADZ

is getting closer

At the very end of a Grammys ceremony doing their best to pretend the Recording Academy has always endorsed and centered black artists, women, and especially black women, Billie Eilish was placed in an impossible position that we Too Many Seen Before Eilish was named record of the year for “Everything I Wanted,” a mid-tempo intermediate to a track just a year after beating the top four categories on her debut album She could only rave about Megan Thee Stallion

“This is really embarrassing to me,” said Eilish, a white teenager who – like many in her generation and beyond – adores black culture. “You’re a queen, I want to cry and think about how much I am love you “She continued it awkwardly reminiscent of Adele, who praised Beyoncé when” 25 “hit” Lemonade “for album of the year in 2017, and also that infamous Macklemore lyric to Kendrick Lamar, some online reluctant to use the performative white Guilt while others applauded Eilish’s apparently sincere fandom But only a persistently old-fashioned electoral body that honors rap only when it’s expedient can be blamed JOE COSCARELLI

Neither musicians nor fans can forget that the pandemic has stopped live music.Instead of the usual actors promoting CBS shows and stray athletes, the awardees included people who work in long-standing clubs and theaters: the Station Inn in Nashville, the Troubadour and Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, the Apollo Theater in Harlem They spoke ahead of time from their empty music halls and announced the winners live. Billy Mitchell, who started at Apollo in 1965, remembered James Brown had asked to see his testimony, insisted on improving his grades, and later gave him money, which Mitchell invested in business school and a lifelong career at Apollo, eventually becoming the official historian of music changing lives offstage JON PARELES

Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” has lived in quarantine its entire life, but it begs to be released into the night and onto dance floors around the world at the Grammys, the British pop singer and songwriter gave us one look at each other Side – glitter, flashing lights, throbbing bass lines, people dusting off the 70s dance moves, slight awkwardness. Your two song set started and ended with “Levitating,” a funky roller rink jam with a charming DaBaby feature “Don’t Start Now,” the powerhouse kiss-off that was nominated for both record and song of the year. The title didn’t take home either award, but Lipa went with a trophy for pop Vocal album and the honor of persuading most of the domestic audience to take a few minutes of spirited couch dancing. CARYN GANZ

Less than three weeks after George Floyd died in Minneapolis last summer, on the day Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot by police, Lil Baby released “The Bigger Picture,” an autobiographical protest song from the conscious mind of the native Atlanta the rapper

With appearances by actor and activist Kendrick Sampson, who reenacted Brooks’ murder; organizer Tamika Mallory, speaking to President Joe Biden; and killer Mike, adding some run the jewels to the mix, Lil Baby’s performance managed to evoke the despair and anger of the moment without feeling co-opted by the institutions that were hosting

At the beginning of the show, DaBaby did the same, adding a new verse to “Rockstar,” his insidious ode to firearms, and making eye contact with America when he knocked in front of a chorus of elderly white people in judge’s robes: “Right now I’m kicking at the Grammys / I’ll probably get profiled before I goCOSCARELLI

Did you know that Beyoncé has now won more Grammys than any other artist in history (28)? Of course you did; The Grammys couldn’t stop reminding you, to be clear, this is a monumental feat that the goddess among mortals Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter absolutely deserves, but the way Trevor Noah and the show’s hosts always keep us going recalled it had a Grammys-doth-protest-too-much quality, almost like the Recording Academy was trying to make up for Beyoncé for his previous violations on live television to be the icing of the woman who has basically redesigned the modern pop album over the past ten years from victories in the four major categories since 2010)

It was uncomfortable Even Beyoncé’s appreciation for “Black Parade” – a good song, sure, but hardly one of her best or most impactful works – felt strangely forgiving, a mea culpa for not getting “Lemonade” right a few years ago The always lovable Beyoncé certainly made the best of it, and her acceptance speeches were among the highlights of the night – especially her radiant energy as big sister, as her “Savage” collaborator Megan Thee Stallion received their joint, well-deserved award for best rap -Song accepted ZOLADZ

By the time we walked on Grammy night, album of the year was Taylor Swift’s losing award. Perhaps no other LP has come to symbolize our pandemic year more thoroughly than “Folklore,” which Swift created entirely during quarantine and with one warm and woolly, homebound aesthetics embellished your Grammy performance – a medley of the “folklore” songs “Cardigan” and “August” as well as “Willow” from their second 2020 album “Evermore” – perhaps relied too literally on this aesthetic

The flickering visual mood around her and her producers Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner (who both came on stage with her in what looked like a one-room house) detracted a little from the direct power of her songcraft This was more easily recognized in the other awards show she gave in support of “Folklore,” a wonderfully naked rendition of “Betty” at last year’s Country Music Awards, but Swift, a one-time Grammy favorite, who did before tonight Haven’t had a win since 2016, was out of the show’s spotlight long enough that her win felt triumphant, in keeping with a night ruled by the artists’ accomplishments, she added an impressive feather to her cap, making it the only one Artist in Grammy history who won Album of the Year three times ZOLADZ

Bruno Mars is nothing more than a hardworking archivist who goes into the details of vintage styles and Anderson Paak accompanies him on a retro quest in her new project Silk Sonic They went all-in on “Leave the Door Open.” “, a tribute to the smooth vocal group R&B from the 1970s. In three-piece mocha suits and shirts with almost shoulder-width collars, they exchanged gritty leads and polite backup harmonies, including choreography. From another time capsule, Mars and Paak returned to the In Memoriam- Segment back, paying tribute to Little Richard with Mars sticking it into an old-fashioned microphone and Paak slamming a set of tiger stripe drums The memorial segment continued with tasteful modesty: Lionel Richie delivered Kenny Rogers’ “Lady” with elegiac melancholy, Brandi Carlile sang John Prine’s last song “I Remember Everything” with loving respect

The final tribute probably made more sense in the UK. With Coldplay’s Chris Martin on piano, Brittany Howard worked on “I’ll Never Walk Alone” (from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel”) about a country Bringing Shuffle It was an intertwined memorial to Gerry Marsden by Gerry and the Pacers who remade the song in 1963 and adopted it as the Liverpool Football Club anthem. Even stranger, the song reappeared a moment later and Howard was about to be in a commercial PARELES

sang a better backup track

Hosting an awards show during the pandemic is a job with no precedent or strict rules.This year’s Grammys – a mix of live performances, pre-made segments, and award shows distributed on a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles – was the Responsibilities deeply confused And yet Trevor Noah proved to be mostly adroit: vibrant energy, a little awe, a little humor, and a little cheek, but not too much.Occasionally, he literally slipped into the end of a performance or deliberately overlapped with something that happened elsewhere on stage which felt awkward at moments but actually helped put glue on a patchwork affair There were some lumpy spots and his joke about sharing a bed with Cardi B felt like an attitude relic 1980s, but by and large, Noah did something that looked like m Several competing shows felt like a CARAMANICA

The mandatory Grammy speech by the head of the recording academy tends to mix platitudes about the power of music with mild lobbying Harvey Mason Jr, who served as interim president and chairman after the academy sacked Deborah Dugan shortly before last year’s Grammy Awards, offered something different: The Grammys Closest to a Mea Culpa “We hear the screams for diversity, requests for representation and demands for transparency, “he said over a serious piano soundtrack.” I’m here tonight to ask the entire music community to join and work with us, not against us, as we build a new recording academy we are all proud of He added: This is not the vision of tomorrow, but the job for today Promising feelings – will they be enough? PARELES

Trevor Noah awkwardly introduced Mickey Guyton as “the first black solo artist ever to be nominated in a country category” – far more a reflection on country music and the Grammys than on her own clear merits (she lost the best Country Solo Performance in Pre-Airing Ceremony to Vince Gill) But Guyton, who will co-host the Academy of Country Music Awards in April, took advantage of that prime-time moment with grace and sang “Black Like Me,” a blunt accusation: “If you think we live in the land of the free / you should try to be black like me” – this strives to end on a hopeful note. It’s a hymn song that has a backup choir and a big build on the way to it greeted a climax: “One day we will all be free, and it made Guyton very difficult for Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris to follow PARELES

Danielle Haim started “The Steps”, nominated for best rock performance, sitting behind the drums, with a combative expression and a fitting beat.She sang about being underrated and misunderstood, and the Grammys just stuck the three-sisters Band – Danielle, Este and Alana – in the middle of the floor. But Haim changed instruments and moods in the middle of the song; Danielle switched from drums to guitar and back, while her voice briefly changed from annoyed to wounded It can hurt to be misunderstood. In the end, she counterattacked again, but the song wasn’t just PARELES


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