It was a history-making night for more than one artist at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Here’s our list of the best moments from the show, and feel free to share your favorite moments with us!
Harry Styles and Billie Eilish Open the Show
Sporting leather bellbottoms, a leather suit jacket with no shirt, and a green boa, Harry Styles made a fashion statement as he performed “Watermelon Sugar.” The live band (featuring Blood Orange) and Harry’s chill dance moves gave the song a nice surge of energy.
It was a lively way to open the show, which contrasted nicely with the performance that immediately followed, Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted.” Billie sounded strong as she sang the understated ballad on the roof of a car.
Megan Thee Stallion Wins Best New Artist
Megan became one of the few hip hop acts ever to win Best New Artist. “It’s been a hell of a year, but we made it!,” she said while trying not to cry. She joins Chance the Rapper, Lauryn Hill, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as the only rap acts to win the award. Megan was presented the award by an exuberant Lizzo, who went off-script and swore, creating the show’s first unpredictable moment.
DaBaby Goes Classical
DaBaby delivered the first truly outstanding performance of the night, adding strings and choral voices into his banger “Rockstar.” This is a song that has been nothing special when DaBaby has performed it in the past, but here the additional collaborators and the striking black and white color scheme took it to a new level.
Dua Lipa’s Pink Dream
Dua Lipa made her Grammy dream come true and delivered one of the strongest performances of the night with her medley of “Levitating” and “Don’t Start Now.” Her gorgeous pink outfit and the guest appearance by DaBaby highlighted the first half of the performance, while Lipa’s pipes and her dancing brought it home as she closed with her Record of the Year-nominated track.
Silk Sonic’s Debut Performance
Every time it seems like Bruno Mars is about to fade out of the public consciousness, he comes back with something greater. He and Anderson .Paak are now Silk Sonic, and while their ’70s soul vibe may be a bit cheesy, their vocals are incredible. Their debut performance of “Leave the Door Open” showed off tight harmonies and gave early warning that they’ll be in contention for the 2022 Grammys.
Taylor Takes Us to the Woods
Taylor Swift’s Folklore and Evermore were the soundtrack of the pandemic, so it was great to see her play some of those tracks with Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff. There is something so reassuring and calming about hearing any track from these two records. Her forest cabin setting seemed a bit Disney-ish, but there was no questioning the live versions of “Cardigan,” “August,” and “Willow.”
Mickey Guyton Shows Her Star Potential
Mickey Guyton gave a powerful rendition of “Black Like Me,” a song that tells a much bigger story than even its lyrics suggest. Guyton is the first black female artist ever nominated for a Grammy, and she did it with zero radio support, which speaks to how challenging it is for women and people of color to get heard in that genre. Guyton’s vocals were among the most powerful of the night. In a just world, she’d be a country music superstar.
Beyonce Sets the Record
Beyonce passed Alison Krauss to become the all-time Grammy leader among women, with 28 career Grammys. She has tied Quincy Jones for second place all-time and now trails only conductor Georg Solti, who won 31. Beyonce has won every award in existence a million times, but it was cool to see how emotional and excited she was upon achieving the record.
Lil Baby Makes a Statement
Lil Baby captured the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement with his performance of “The Bigger Picture.” Lots of performers tonight touched on the issue of racism, but nobody recreated the summer 2020 vibe like the rapper, who brought a team of protestors and a line of police to his stage. Killer Mike and Tamika Mallory showed up to offer pointed commentary about police brutality and the government’s role in addressing racial injustice. This is why Lil Baby was nominated for Best Rap Song.
Taylor Makes History Too
Beyonce wasn’t the only woman to make history tonight. After being shut out for most of the night, Taylor Swift won Album of the Year as expected. That ties her for the all-time record with 3 career Album of the Year wins, joining Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, and Paul Simon. This one was predicted, but that didn’t make it any less special.
It was nice to see the love spread out between different pop singers. Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga, and Ariana Grande all won Grammys tonight. That’s incredibly rare, since usually one artist sweeps everything.
BTS Close Strong
BTS have performed “Dynamite” so many times that it’s hard to imagine how they can come up with new ways to do it. But they managed a clever way to reimagine the performance as they moved throughout a theater and onto the roof of a building in South Korea. The boys brought their typical dance routine to the track and finished strong with an aerial view of their rooftop show.
The Pre-Show Winners
More than 70 of the 83 awards were handed out during the non-televised portion of the ceremony in the afternoon. That’s where Beyonce and Blue Ivy won Best Music Video for “Brown Skin Girl,” making Blue Ivy one of the youngest Grammy winners in history. Beyonce won a second award for “Savage” with an ecstatic Megan Thee Stallion.
The pre-show is also where Fiona Apple won Best Alternative Album for Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Billie Eilish and Finneas won Best Song Written for Visual Media for “No Time to Die,” Jagged Little Pill won Best Musical Theater Album, Tiffany Haddish won Best Comedy Album, becoming the first woman of color to due so since Whoopi Goldberg in 1986.
Other worthy winners during the preshow included Thundercat, Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande, Kaytranada, John Prine, Brandi Carlile, Ledisi, Jim “Kimo” West, SAINt JHN, and Jacob Collier.
Ready to get a jumpstart on next year’s awards? Here’s our list of 2022 Grammy Awards predictions!