Grammys 2021 highlights from performances, speeches, more

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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.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 14: H.E.R., winner of the Best R&B Song award for ‘Better Than I Imagined’ and the Song of the Year award for 'I Can't Breathe,’ poses in the media room during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Los Angeles Convention Center on March 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy )
H.E.R., brings home two Grammys — one for Best R&B Song award and also for Song of the Year.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

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.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: In this image released on March 14, Harry Styles performs onstage during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California and broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Harry Styles opened the show with “Watermelon Sugar,” which also earned him the Grammy for Best Pop Performance.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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.

Billie Eilish performs during the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards
Billie Eilish performs during the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.
FRANCIS SPECKER/CBS Broadcasting, Inc./AFP via Getty Images

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.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: In this image released on March 14, Megan Thee Stallion performs onstage during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California and broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Megan Thee Stallion performs onstage.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Lizzo presented the Best New Artist award to Megan Thee Stallion.
Getty Images

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.

The twice-nominated Black Pumas performed "Colors" at the 2021 Grammys.
The twice-nominated Black Pumas performed “Colors” at the 2021 Grammys.
Getty Images

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.

during the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center, in Los Angeles, California, USA, 14 March 2021. EPA/Kevin Winter / HANDOUT ATTENTION EDITORS: IMAGE TO BE USED ONLY IN RELATION TO THE STATED EVENT / HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES/NO ARCHIVES
Dua Lipa, who won the Grammy for Best Pop Album for Future Nostalgia, performed “Levitating” and “Don’t Start Now.”
EPA

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.

Paak and Bruno Mars of music group Silk Sonic performing onstage during the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center
Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak debuted a new retro duo called Silk Sonic.
Theo Wargo/EPA

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.

Jack Antonoff, Taylor Swift, and Aaron Dessner perform onstage for the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards
Taylor Swift’s quarantine album Folklore earned the star the Album of the Year Grammy.
Getty Images

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.

Brittany Howard won the Grammy for Best Rock Song.
Brittany Howard won the Grammy for Best Rock Song.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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.

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