Grammys 2021: 10 Takeaways from A Big And Weird Night

Grammys 2021: 10 Takeaways from A Big And Weird Night

Grammys 2021
Grammys 2021: 10 Takeaways from A Big And Weird Night

The 2021 Grammy Awards somehow survived a six-week coronavirus-inspired postponement, not to mention the angry speeches from The Weeknd, and they compiled a smooth, fun and music-filled broadcast that also proved to be quite irritating. How can all this be true? Keep reading!

1. The broadcast itself was a victory. Give a great deal of credit to executive producer Ben Winston, making his debut at the Grammys: his television broadcast moved cheerfully across multiple stages, cut the fat of past years and lots of padding, highlighted a huge variety of music and allowed artists to be shown. At its best. Typical Grammys tv broadcasts feature great height and embarrassing lows, but Sunday night shows were produced with high skill and elegance to allow train wrecks. After broadcasting a mixed, high-quality, high-tech And Condensed Zoom just a few weeks ago, Winston showed the world how it is done.

2. The same awards? How's the boy? You can see it coming, yet still feel sorry: the Grammys took a moment, when Beyoncé was handed the twenty-eighth Grammy Award of her global career, to admit that she had just surpassed Alison Krauss for the largest number of Grammy Awards ever. Artist. (Watch your back, George Solty!) Unacknowledged at that moment is that Beyoncé has a long history of overlooking tonight's grand prizes; Scan a list of Grammy Awards won by Beyoncé, and note how many times the "R&B" rate appears.

So, when it came time to award the final night award, Megan Thai Stallion and "Savage" had to be for Beyoncé, right? Megan has already won best new artist award; "Savage" has already won best rap performance and best rap song; Beyoncé's "Black Parade" has already won best performance at R&B, and "Brown Skin Girl" has already won best music video award (which means Beyoncé's 9-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, has now won her first Grammy award). Billy Elish, for her part, won only the best song she wrote for the visual media, about the song "No Time to Day". But the record of the year went to Elish, who spent much of her speech apologizing to Megan Thai Stallion for her victory.

Without any deliberate disdain for Elish, who handled the situation well, these are Grammy Awards for you: they are making progress;

3. Voices calling for a boycott will rise. In the lead-up to this year's Grammys, The Weeknd announced that it would never present its music to the Grammys again after the Recording Academy failed to nominate him for his popular album hours later. Beyonce attended but did not perform, and seemed to have exerted as little energy as possible on the whole affair. The Grammys have a long history of disdaining black artists at inappropriate moments - see, for example, the infamous Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who outperform Kendrick Lamar in the 2014 hip-hop awards categories - and patience is running out.

4. The bag was mixed for the big winners. Many observers expected tonight to be another culmination of Taylor Swift, whose folklore album received six Grammy nominations and some of her best reviews. But Swift went to 0 to start 5, only to take the album of the year near the end of the telecast. Elish, best known for dominating last year's awards, did not arouse much interest during the rest of the evening. In both cases, the big gains crept on them.

5. There was better news in the voting races. While it was a shame to see Phoebe Bridgers go 0-for-4, Megan Thai Stallion was the clear and correct choice for best new artist (although she was a bit of a scratch when she wasn't nominated in this category last year). Fiona Apple, inexplicably excluded from nominations in the main categories, won best rock performance (for "Shameika") and best alternative music album (for Fetch the Bolt Cutters). HER GOT THE SONG OF THE YEAR FOR "I CAN'T BREATHE", A RESONANT AND POWERFUL SONG. Kaytranada became the first black musician to win best dance/electronic album in the category's 17-year history - a terrible landmark, given the origins of the genre, but a milestone nonetheless.

6. Get ready for a new, cumbersome front in cultural wars! Last year, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion released one of the dirtiest songs ever topping Billboard Hot 100, and "WAP" debuted in grammys in a highly abusive entertainment style. Rest assured that "De-Culture" and Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potito Head will have to make room for some of the conservative sofas that are passing out, perhaps by the time you read this.

7. Somehow, against all odds, none of the performances were really smelly. This special kind of show - with careful management of the theater, a good vocal mix, a mix of live and pre-recorded moments, many stages to accommodate specific changes etc. - allowed artists to perform their best work. This was the 3 1/2-hour promo for the music industry that grammys longed for, and it was the beneficiaries of the musicians themselves and the home audience who were starving for live music.

8. The Grammys have not forgotten distressed places. Without switching to Telethon or slowing down broadcasting, the show did a good job of highlighting a few of the many music venues whose long-term survival is threatened by the Coronavirus pandemic. It was refreshing to see the Recording Academy realize that the success of its industry depended not only on broadcasting and sales but also on the return of live music and the places that made it possible.

9. Trevor Noah deserves more praise than you think. The Daily Show host maintained a fairly low presence throughout the night - he wasn't presiding over any dramas, and monolith was limited to some quick jokes - but he did a good job of moving the home audience through a complex large piece of award-winning displays. There is no doubt that the awards show hosting parties are generally ungrateful and have made the daunting task seem easy.

10. Finally, it can't be repeated enough: The Grammys still have a lot of work to do. It's not about saying, "If Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar set a great record in 2021, she has to win album of the year." They have to create trust.

This trust can only be achieved through transparency about their process, membership and efforts to better reflect their industry and their huge audience around the world. Grammys' typical response to controversies tends to include attempts by a particular artist to correct the grievances of previous years, part of how metallica won eight Grammys over six different years after badly losing the best metal performance to Jethro Tull in 1989.

The issue is not that Beyoncé should have won album of the year in 2015 on Beck's Morning Phase or that Lemonade should have won album of the year in 2017 on Adele's 25, although both results were - without any shadow cast on any of the winners - hard-stomach. The problem is that it's hard for Grammys to continue like this without facing a massive revolution of artists who need their support in order to maintain what looks like convenience.

In other words, they have to go up.