17 March 2021

Grammys 2021: A history-making show

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For those of us craving the opportunity to see live music again, Sunday’s nights Grammy Awards ceremony was a great reminder of what we can look forward to.

But alongside fantastic onstage performance from the likes of Dupa Lipa, BTS and Harry Styles, we also witnessed artists breaking records, making history and continuing to add their voices to important movements like BLM.

 

Record breakers

Not for the first time, Beyoncé went from record maker to record breaker – this time taking home her 28th gramophone to become the most-awarded woman and second most-awarded person in Grammys history. And it was a night to celebrate for Taylor Swift, too, with the Folklore singer becoming the first ever female artist to win Album of the Year three times. While it was a momentous occasion for two Grammy powerhouses, there was still history to be made by one of the most explosive acts to hit the charts in recent years as well.

Megan Thee Stallion ended the male monopoly in the Best Rap Song category – becoming the first female to take home the award in 17 years for ‘Savage’, and cementing an incredible rise to stardom over the last few years. With many of the night’s biggest trophies won by women, it was a fantastic thing to see in the wake of last week’s International Women’s Day.

 

Powerful voices

Given the tumultuous cultural and political landscape of recent times, it was equally encouraging to see this year’s Grammys recognising talented Black artists, and giving a platform to important issues. The groundswell of support for the BLM movement was on show throughout the night’s proceedings, with Beyoncé speaking about how she “wanted to uplift, encourage and celebrate all the beautiful Black kings and queens who have inspired me and the whole world” in her winner’s speech for ‘Black Parade’.

Lil Baby gave a powerful performance of ‘The Bigger Picture’, addressing the treatment of Black people in the US, specifically police brutality. And Country artist Mickey Guyton played her track ‘Black Like Me’ which talks about her experience as a Black woman in country music. In terms of awards, Kaytranada ended the night as the first Black artist to win Best Dance/Electronic album, which given the genre’s true origins, shows why conversations around inequality are still so vital. And HER took home the Best Song trophy for her emotional track ‘I can’t Breathe’ – a song released in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, which calls into question centuries of indifference to Black trauma.

Fetch the bolt cutters’ successful experiment

In a recent PHMG blog on auditory creativity, our Director of Music and Voice Daniel Lafferty selected three recent examples that inspired him – one of which was Fiona Apple’s fifth studio album Fetch the Bolt Cutters. Although recorded before the pandemic, the album was created almost entirely in Apple’s home, incorporating many found sounds and home instruments to create a ground-breaking piece of experimental art that feels perfectly timed for the era we’re living in. And the Grammy judges agreed, with Fiona Apple picking up her third award – this time for Best Alternative Music Album.

Sunday night’s Grammys had to be stripped back to the essentials, and thankfully, this left us with a show that focused on what actually matters most. Big performances from our favourite artists, a celebration of the diversity of talent currently available, and a global stage to keep the spotlight on important issues.

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