It took a while, but the 64th Annual Grammy Awards were finally presented on Sunday, April 3 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s more than two months after the show’s originally scheduled January air date, which had to be delayed due to COVID-19 (again). With a new date, new location (this is the first time the show is set in Sin City), last year’s host Trevor Noah back as master of ceremonies and dozens of artists scheduled to take the stage, how was this year’s show? What were the most memorable moments and the biggest surprises, both in terms of the winners and the event itself. Read on for my blog live from the festivities.
The main ceremony, which aired on CBS at 5:00 p.m. Pacific/8:00 p.m. Eastern, was preceded by the first ceremony where the vast majority of the awards were presented. Jon Batistewhich led the nominations with 11, also led the premiere winners with four, including best music video for “Freedom” in a shake-up on Lil Nas X (“Montero”), Olivia Rodrigue (“Good 4 U”), and Billie Eilish (“Happier than ever”).
Next came the Foo Fighters, which swept the rock categories, sadly posthumous awards for the drummer. Taylor Hawkins, who died suddenly less than two weeks ago. Among the other big winners, Chris Stapleton won twice for the country, Kanye West won twice for rap (though surprisingly lost best rap album), Sonic Silk won twice for R&B, and Olivia Rodrigue ascended the chart with a win for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Driver’s License.” Two posthumous honors were also awarded to Korea chickwho died over a year ago and now has 27 Grammys to his credit, equaling Alison Krauss for fourth place on the all-time list of biggest winners.
So what happened when the rest of the awards were handed out? Follow below (times shown are Eastern). Discuss in the comments. And join the discussion about this and more with your fellow music fans here in our forums.
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20:00 – Silk Sonic is the first artist to take the stage, performing “777”. They have already won twice: Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for “Leave the Door Open,” for which they are also nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The show is back indoors after last year’s smaller outdoor ceremony, but the venue still feels more intimate than the usual Grammys arena setting: attendees are seated at tables while riff raff is crowded in the background. Bruno Mars could fill any size room. It’s as if he was genetically modified for live musical performances.
8:07 p.m. – A quick succession of jokes from host Trevor Noah, joking that Finneas didn’t make it through his last night even though he’s literally listed as Finneas O’Connell on all of his writing credits. Also a decent joke about Justin Bieber being the best thing that’s happened to ‘Peaches’ since Timothee Chalamet in ‘Call Me by Your Name’. hopefully not Will Smith–Chris Rock jokes yet, but those are definitely coming.
8:09 p.m. – Olivia Rodrigo follows with a performance next to a car she presumably has her “license” for. She seemed a little nervous at the start of this “Drivers License” performance, but she definitely hit her stride near the bridge. She should probably set up a table right there on the stage because she’ll be going back there to pick up the best new artist and probably more.
8:13 p.m. — The lighting design for this J Balvin and Maria Becerra performance of “Qué Más Pues?” and then “In da Getto” is on point. Red lights in the background contrast with blue-lit dancers wearing masks and white gloves. “In da Getto” was particularly banger. The rhythm of the dance thrilled my nervous system…in a good way.
8:21 p.m. — SONG OF THE YEAR: quest love, who won an Oscar and (now) a Grammy for “Summer of Soul,” presents the night’s top prize to Silk Sonic for “Leave the Door Open.” Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak are the recipients along with their fellow writers Christopher Brody Brown and Dernst Emile II. This is the second victory in this category for Bruno Mars, after that of “That’s What I Like”. A little surprising since Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Driver’s License’ was our odds favorite, but maybe she and Billie Eilish split the votes as they likely have similar fanbases, within the academy and beyond. Also, never count out Bruno Mars at the Grammys when he goes retro. The Recording Academy eats this. Silk Sonic is three for three tonight so far, and their entire album doesn’t even qualify until 2023.
8:28 p.m. – BTS performing “Butter”. What about robbing an art gallery, deftly dodging laser alarms ‘trap’ style, then directing the Secret Service in a dance number? I mean sure, why not. Count on me. No offense to the Korean sensations, but I would have preferred to spend more time with Aymee Nuviola, a tropical Latin performer who performed on the rooftop right after as a recording academy tries to showcase genres that aren’t usually featured in prime time. But it was only featured for maybe a minute before it went on to commercial, and so far it was the show’s best musical performance minute so far. Bring it back!
8:38 p.m. – Well, at least Nuviola got one more minute when the show came back from commercial. And as Trevor Noah adds, these full rooftop performances will be available online after the show.
8:40 p.m. — Back inside, a Lil Nas X mix of “Dead Right Now”, “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” and “Industry Baby”, with as many costume changes. Give great reality to the number of productions. A fantastic performance. I hope he wasn’t pre-empted in Florida, though, for being unabashedly, contagiously gay.
8:49 p.m. — BEST COUNTRY ALBUM: The second prize of the evening goes to Chris Stapleton for “Starting Over”. This is his third victory in this category, his third victory today and his seventh victory overall. Considering her track record, it wasn’t a big surprise, let alone after winning Best Solo Country Performance and Best Country Song at the premiere ceremony. He hasn’t lost a single award this year.
8:54 p.m. – Trevor Noah features a production manager to shine a light on the behind-the-scenes professional artists who make the music industry possible. You could tell she was nervous because the microphone was shaking in her hand, but it was a delightful moment to watch one of the music industry’s true stars introduce the upcoming performance, for Billie Eilish.
8:56 p.m. – When it comes to this Eilish performance of “Happier Than Ever” in a flooded room and upside down, the first thing I notice is the beautiful tribute she’s wearing: a shirt featuring the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. And she did him justice by throwing out this stunning performance like a rock goddess, reminiscent of his emotional rain-swept music video for the song. I’m already a huge fan of Eilish, but her live performances here and at the Oscars last week were next level.
9:07 p.m. – Back from the break with Trevor Noah sitting with Silk Sonic, giving Anderson Paak full attention to set up a “We’re not talking about Bruno” joke. Honestly, it wouldn’t have worked without Bruno Mars acting, giving Trevor Noah a comically annoyed look. Bruno Mars, Grammy-winning musician with decent comedic instincts too.
9:09 p.m. — BEST NEW ARTIST: I appreciate producers who break down major categories instead of picking the top four for the end of the night. Past category winners Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion present the award to Olivia Rodrigo. His victory was undoubtedly one of the slam dunks of these awards. No one else in her category has had nearly the kind of breakthrough she had in 2021. She’s still up for record and song of the year. She is only the 13th artist to have been nominated in the top four overall categories in the same year.
9:13 p.m. – That’s nice to look at Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt introduce a performance of “Right on Time” by Brandi Carlile, an artist who beautifully follows in their musical footsteps. And as you might expect, he blows the roof off the joint with an absolutely flawless voice. Literally all you need for a good show is to put Brandi Carlile in front of a microphone. Like Silk Sonic, Carlile released his single during the last Grammy eligibility period, but the rest of his album isn’t eligible until 2023. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carlile and Silk Sonic go head-to-head for album of the year next year.