What are you able to say a couple of Grammy Night time that begins with Harry Kinds in a feather boa and ends with Billie Eilish saying, “What’s up, Ringo?” Simply this: They need to at all times do the Grammys this fashion. Final night time was one of the best Grammy present ever, by an absurd margin — practically 4 hours targeted on artists doing their very own songs, each efficiency wonderful. No viewers, and barely any awards. No silly comedy bits. No presenters studying scripted banter. No Zoom screens. No “let’s trip the subway with Sting” montage. Simply music. That is completely out of whack with historical past. I’ve been watching the Grammys because the days when David Crosby was handing them out to Fleetwood Mac, and I can let you know this has by no means occurred earlier than.
The Grammys did it this fashion out of necessity, to adapt to the Covid pandemic. However there’s completely no cause to return. The perfect contact was the artists hanging across the soundstage, cheering one another on. Harry Kinds singing together with Black Pumas. Mickey Guyton singing together with Miranda Lambert. Unhealthy Bunny grooving to Dua Lipa. First-time producer Ben Winston gave us a very new present, and let’s hope it stays this fashion after the pandemic is over.
The Grammys paused for a rethink after the horrible information final December of Charley Delight’s loss of life from Covid, quickly after singing on the CMAs. The present, initially set for January 31st, bought bumped to March. A courageous transfer, however a smart one. The brand new format seemed quite a bit like Jools Holland’s BBC present within the U.Ok. — simply preserve the tunes rolling. They reduce the hype about “Music’s Largest Night time,” and simply let it’s an evening of music. No overblown dance numbers with pyro. No speeches from Recording Academy fits about how we’re all listening to music improper. No contrived “Grammmy moments.” (Keep in mind final 12 months, once they did a Prince “tribute” the place FKA Twigs bought to pole-dance however wasn’t allowed to sing? By no means once more.)
Harry Kinds kicked off the present in full glam-god splendor, doing “Watermelon Sugar” in black leather-based and his feather boa. His band funked it up, joined by Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes, whereas Harry did a burlesque swivel-and-bump with the boa that may make Gypsy Rose Lee proud. After which — in an inspirational and really Harry transfer — he picked the boa off the ground and put it again on to take heed to Haim and Black Pumas. He made it probably the most spectacular Grammy opener in a fairly some time. (Has anybody checked in on that boa? It’s had fairly a journey.)
Billie Eilish and Finneas, probably the most lovable sibling duo within the music world, did a fantastic model of “All the pieces I Needed.” Haim rocked out with “The Steps,” whereas Black Pumas dug right into a implausible Seventies-style Memphis soul groove for “Colours.” That efficiency had the night time’s shreddiest guitar solo, which felt like an unstated tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen. An enormous shock through the first advert break: We bought a primary style of Taylor Swift’s re-recorded “Wildest Goals (Taylor’s Model),” in an advert for a Disney film. It was only a snippet, however it was sufficient to whet the urge for food for the remade 1989.
Taylor was one of many night time’s huge winners. She took Album of the Yr for Folklore, turning into the primary lady to win that award thrice, becoming a member of Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, and Stevie Marvel. She received for Fearless and 1989, however this one meant extra — partly as a result of Folklore is her deepest, most private, most experimental, and most excellent album. However it additionally represents a daring new section of her life, taking full management of her music. This was one thing new: Album of the Yr (Taylor’s Model). Her shifting speech had a shout-out to boyfriend Joe Alwyn, a.ok.a. William Bowery. “I had one of the best time writing songs with you in quarantine” is the brand new “I had the time of my life preventing dragons with you.”
Swift additionally did a mind-blowingly good efficiency, with a medley of gems from her two 2020 albums: “Cardigan,” “August,” and “Willow.” She went full cottage-core, constructing a home out of moss (Taylor invented moss) deep within the woods (Taylor invented woods), with wingmen Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner. She recreated the cabin vibe of her Lengthy Pond Studio Classes from final November, getting misplaced upstate. The digital camera moved in on Dessner’s face as he was about to strum the opening notes of “August,” and he seemed virtually apologetic, like he was sorry prematurely for doing this to us emotionally. (Not forgiven.)
Megan Thee Stallion had so most of the night time’s largest moments, first when she received a massively deserved award for Greatest New Artist. (Get your boxing gloves on, Elton.) Lizzo handed her the prize, and let slip an unintentional “bitch” that bought previous the censors. When Megan received Greatest Rap Efficiency for “Savage,” she gave a poignant speech alongside her idol Beyoncé, speaking about how she worshipped Future’s Baby as just a little woman. She mentioned her motto is “ ’What Would Beyoncé Do’ — however let me make it just a little ratchet.” Megan did “Physique” and “Savage,” full with a tap-dance interlude. Cardi B joined her for “WAP,” which bought censored to a hilarious excessive. (They bleeped out the world “bucket”!) But it nonetheless sounded as filthy as ever, with Cardi and Megan reigning atop an enormous purple mattress.
Everyone seemed happiest when cheering for Beyoncé — all people feels blessed to be wherever close to her, whether or not it’s a stadium or a setting like this one. The Queen made historical past together with her wins for “Savage” and “Black Parade,” setting a brand new file as probably the most Grammy-rewarded feminine artist ever, a title beforehand held by bluegrass star Allison Krauss. (Time for a duet — possibly “Daddy Classes”?)
Dua Lipa did a glittery medley of “Levitating” and “Don’t Begin Now,” inducing a disco-ball swoon. When she received Greatest Pop Vocal Album for Future Nostalgia, she accepted in a beaded robe that Cher might have worn to Studio 54 — and possibly did? Unhealthy Bunny and Jhay Cortez did a high-concept sci-fi model of “Dakiti.” Lil Child offered a mini-movie of “The Greater Image,” a condemnation of police brutality, that includes Killer Mike. H.E.R. received for her Black Lives Matter anthem “I Can’t Breathe.” Mickey Guyton, the primary black lady nominated for a solo nation Grammy, did her superb “Black Like Me,” adopted by Miranda Lambert torching up “Bluebird.” DaBaby performed an orchestral “Rockstar” with Roddy Ricch. Publish Malone did “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” with an intro the place he defined he was impressed to hunt a profession in music by enjoying Guitar Hero.
By now, BTS are used to stealing the Grammy present — even once they’re solely on digital camera for a couple of seconds, as when singing with Lil Nas X final 12 months, or dancing to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” the 12 months earlier than that. However they lastly bought their long-overdue showcase, the Quantity One hit “Dynamite,” beaming in from a Seoul rooftop in a efficiency virtually exploding with pleasure. “Cup of milk, let’s rock & roll,” certainly.
Bruno Mars — that man was principally born for the Grammys, and he didn’t fail final night time. He and Anderson Paak debuted their wonderful new challenge Silk Sonic, within the spirit of old-school 1970s Soul Practice R&B romance. “Go away the Door Open” was their beautiful Delfonics tribute, so lovingly exact in each element — depart it to Bruno to nail these distinctive Delfonics drum fills. (The Delfonics jam everybody is aware of is “La La Means I Love You,” however the actual killer is “When You Get Proper Down To It.”) Later within the present, Bruno and Anderson gave it as much as Little Richard, banging out “Good Golly Miss Molly.”
The Grammys at all times have an In Memoriam tribute, however after a 12 months ravaged by the pandemic, it was becoming to method it a special approach. Lionel Richie honored his outdated good friend Kenny Rogers, singing the hit he wrote for him, “Girl.” Brandi Carlile did a phenomenally shifting acoustic model of John Prine’s “I Keep in mind All the pieces.” Brittany Howard belted a rapturous “You’ll By no means Stroll Alone,” with Chris Martin on piano.
When Harry Kinds received Greatest Pop Solo Efficiency for “Watermelon Sugar,” he seemed downright humbled. They bleeped out the a part of his speech the place he praised his fellow nominees, saying, “All these songs are fucking large.” However the digital camera caught a touching element — when Harry received, Taylor was the very first to leap to her toes to applaud. It was virtually like the remainder of the world was in black and white … however they had been in screaming colour. (Actually, the entire night time was such a Haylor journey, some viewers may want a while to get well by the fridge gentle.)
Billie Eilish received Document of the Yr for “All the pieces I Needed,” simply as she received final 12 months for “Unhealthy Man.” And similar to final 12 months, she spent her huge speech graciously saying it ought to have gone to one in every of her music heroes — final 12 months it was Ariana Grande for Album of the Yr, this 12 months it was Megan. It’s proof that she’s a true-blue music fan at the beginning else. Ringo Starr, one of many few 20th-century artists to seem on the present, gave her the award, telling her, “Properly performed, Billie! Peace and love!” Like final 12 months, when she accepted this similar award from Smokey Robinson, it was candy to see the torch handed fom the residing legends of yesteryear to the brand new era.
As a number, Trevor Noah was no Jools Holland — extra like Regis Philbin occasions DJ Khaled with a splash of Jimmy Fallon. However his schtick was thankfully stored to a minimal. This streamlined model of the Grammys makes you hope they preserve it this fashion. It’s exceptional what number of shrewd choices had been made. For one factor, let’s hope this marks the tip of Zoom screens on award exhibits. (Sorry, however when folks see Zoom screens, they consider work. Honest warning to the Oscars subsequent month.) This 12 months’s Grammy present was so nice, there’s no historic precedent for it. However even in pandemic situations, this was a Grammy Night time that felt like a real music celebration.