Grammys 2021 — A Controversial Night


Like most public events, the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards were held online on Sunday, March 14th. A celebration of music, this year’s Grammys contained many powerful performances, along with important messages about discrimination and highlights of the protests for civil rights.

This was a winning night for women in the music industry. All main categories were won by women and representation ran deep for many viewers.

Entering with the most nominations of the night (9), Beyoncé left with four Grammys and broke a record by being the most awarded woman in Grammy history. Not only did Beyoncé win, but her family were also Grammy winners. Jay-Z with songwriting credits for “Savage” and daughter, Blue Ivy won Best Music Video for “Brown Skin Girl.”

Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé accept the award for Best Rap Performance. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Megan Thee Stallion delivered a tearful speech when accepting her award for “Best New Artist,” giving thanks to her team and honoring her late mother and grandmother. This was her first year being nominated and won a total of three Grammys. With the huge success of Folklore, it was no doubt that Taylor Swift would win this category, making her the one of only two female artists to win Album of the Year twice in the history of the Grammys.

This night contained of many wins and thank you speeches full of gratitude. While many sub-categories awards were announced during the Premiere ceremony, the major ones were announced during the main show.

Here are the main general categories and their winners:

Record of the Year: “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish

Album of the Year: “Folklore” by Taylor Swift

Song of the Year: “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R

Best New Artist: Megan Thee Stallion

Best Pop Solo Performance: “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande

Best Pop Vocal Album: “Future Nostalgia” by Dua Lipa

Best R&B Performance: “Black Parade” by Beyoncé

Best Rap Performance: “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé

This night contained many memorable performances by DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Cardi B, Dua Lipa, Silk Sonic, BTS, and many more.

Some of the nights highlights include Megan Thee Stallion’s first time on the Grammy stage with a sparkling and energetic performance of her hits “Body” and “Savage.” Along with Cardi, they performed “WAP” which instantly went viral in its release back in August of 2020. Also, Doja Cat performed her hit “Say So” in which she never fails to create different concepts for in each performance.

Dua Lipa brought “Levitating” with DaBaby and “Don’t Start Now” to the stage with a drastic costume change and uplifting stage presence. With a small dance break, Dua Lipa came to prove that she has improved in terms of performance.

DaBaby performing “Rockstar”
Photo: CBS/Recording Academy via AP (AP)

Silk Sonic, an R&B duo composed of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, left viewers speechless as they delivered strong vocals for their debut single “Leave the Door Open.” Their performance took viewers back to past with soulful environment and definitely ‘left the door open’ alright. BTS delivered an incredible performance their hit single “Dynamite” and became the first South Korean group to be nominated for a Grammy and perform. Their performance recreated the Grammy stage straight from Seoul as if they were in attendance.

Another highlight is Lil Baby’s powerful performance of “The Bigger Picture” in which Justice advocate Tamika Mallory and activist Killer Mike joined him in raising awareness of police brutality and racism. Lil Baby released this song shortly after the killing of George Floyd and the endless protests.

Silk Sonic – Bruno Mars & Anderson .paak
Photo: CBS

Although the Grammys delivered many wins, there were also many major snubs this year. Known for their discrimination and lack of diversity, it was no surprise of their behavior this year. Therefore, the Grammys were not going to escape controversy and backlash this year. Viewers pointed out that the most anticipated categories such as “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” and “Best Rap Performance” were pushed to the Premiere Ceremony, despite the continuous hype behind the categories. Along with those categories, many people of color that received nominations were also pushed to the Premiere Ceremony instead of the Main event which made several question the intentions of the Recording Academy.

With the Twitter hashtag “Scammys” trending worldwide, Chloe X Hallie, BTS, and Doja Cat were the most talked about snubs of the night. Doja Cat’s at the height of her career, however, she left the Grammys empty handed. It came as a surprise to several that one of the biggest artists of the year didn’t win any awards. Although she has many hits to her name such as “Say So” and “Streets,” fans were disappointed.

BTS performing “Dynamite”
Photo: CBS/Recording Academy via AP

Chloe X Hallie, a sister R&B duo, released a critically acclaimed album titled, “Ungodly Hour” that received no wins. With hits like “Do It” and “Forgive Me,” critics left great reviews and highly praised their work. Although they were highly commended, they were not rewarded and this left many wondering if the Recording Academy is truly up-to-date with what the general public enjoys.

Also, despite being one of the most successful artists of the year and “Dynamite” having the most success in terms of numbers, BTS did not win the award for “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.” Because of their large and dedicated fanbase, several fans have expressed resent towards the Recording Academy for being evident in only using the group for viewership. This conclusion was made as their nomination received more media coverage from the Grammys themselves, than the other nominees. Not only that, critics also called out the Recording Academy for xenophobia towards gate keeping BTS’s music in Korean from being nominated in main categories, while nominating their only English song. If sales, charting, and amount of success doesn’t determine the winner, then what does?

 “Tonight I’m here to ask that entire music community to join in, work with us not against us, as we build a new Recording Academy that we can all be proud of.”

This shows that the Recording Academy is well aware of their actions but voids the speech as hypocritical, as the “cries for diversity” are not being addressed nor changed in Recording Academy.

Overall, the Grammys was quite the night that had positives and negatives. Despite being online, the performances were amazingly executed and the awkwardness was kept to a minimum. Hopefully, with their new executive producer, things can begin to change in the Recording Academy in the future.