A Recap of the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards
The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, which took place on March 14, have now come and gone. Missed the ceremony but still curious as to who took home awards and who stole the show? Quest writer Brewster Durbin breaks down the night’s biggest winners and the biggest snubs.
Megan Thee Stallion
Undoubtedly, the star of the night was Houston’s Megan Thee Stallion. She won both Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance for “Savage (Remix) [ft. Beyoncé]” and became the first female hip hop artist to win Best New Artist since Lauryn Hill in 1999. Additionally, she dazzled with a performance of “Savage” that featured a new jazz-age arrangement and a tap-dancing interlude. In what was possibly the most memorable moment of the night, Cardi B joined her on stage for a performance of their infamous duet “WAP.” While the song was heavily censored (for obvious reasons) it was still a fiery and sensual performance. Stallion’s been slowly building hype and acclaim over the past few years, but the Grammys felt like a true breakout moment for her. It was great to see recognition of her talents on a national stage, and with an official cosign from the Recording Academy, it seems like she’s poised to ascend to even taller heights.
Another young star that seemed to have their arrival moment at the Grammys was Albanian pop star Dua Lipa. Although she only walked away with one award on the night — Best Pop Vocal Album for her record Future Nostalgia — she was tied with Taylor Swift and Roddy Ricch for the second most nominations, with six. She also delivered arguably the best performance of the night, staging a mash-up of hit singles “Levitating” and “Don’t Start Now,” the former of which featured a special appearance from rapper DaBaby. Her performance contained several outfit changes, a heavily choreographed dance routine, and was overall a stunning realization of the futuristic disco vibes that Future Nostalgia contains. After receiving criticism during her last album cycle for her weak dancing and lack of stage presence, Lipa has overhauled her skill set entirely to become one of pop’s brightest stars.
Even in a seemingly quiet year for the legendary Beyoncé, the icon managed to not only receive the most nominations but also the most wins, with nine and four respectively. In doing so, her Grammy total moved up to 28, setting the record for most Grammys won by a woman and a singer, surpassing a record set by Alison Krauss. She’s only four Grammys away from single-handedly holding the all-time record, a feat which seems likely when she releases her next studio album. However, tonight she proved that even when she’s not in the spotlight (her nominations were either due to her feature on “Savage” or for her contributions to the soundtrack of The Lion King), she’s still a shining star.
Chloe x Halle
Chloe x Halle, a pop-infused R&B duo from Atlanta, were nominated twice this year, for Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best Progressive R&B Album. Although it’s hard to argue against the winners in each category (artists Ledisi and Thundercat were both incredibly deserving), it’s still frustrating to see Chloe x Halle walk away empty-handed. They’re a tremendously talented and cutting-edge duo that will definitely continue to make waves in the future. Their lack of wins also points to a flaw in the Recording Academy’s selection method. They seem to have shoved a lot of albums by Black artists into the Progressive R&B category to make-up for their biases exhibited against Black artists in the past, but the gesture creates more problems than solutions. Why are Thundercat (a jazz fusion and funk bassist) and Chloe x Halle (an R&B and pop group) even in the same category? It’s a critique that was raised last year after Tyler, the Creator won “Best Rap Album” for his stunning record IGOR, which contains very little rapping across its run-time. It seems that the Recording Academy still has no idea what to do with genre-defying and left-of-center Black artists, demonstrated by the lack of awards given to Chloe x Halle.
Perhaps the biggest snub of all was an artist who wasn’t even nominated for a Grammy at all: Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd. After the incredible success of his record-breaking album After Hours, his hit single “Blinding Lights,” and his stellar Super Bowl performance, it was a shock to the whole music world when he wasn’t nominated for a single Grammy. By every metric — chart success, popularity, and quality songwriting — he seemed poised for several awards, possibly even Record of the Year or Album of the Year. It’s not a good look for the Recording Academy, as The Weeknd has stated that he will no longer submit his music for Grammy consideration in the future. He joins fellow artist Frank Ocean in this Grammy boycott as questions continue to surround the event regarding their treatment of women and Black artists. Even if one was to focus solely on the music, it’s still unthinkable that The Weeknd was not nominated for a single award. Over the last year, nearly everyone in the world has heard “Ooooooh, I’m blinded by the lights” at some point. The lack of love shown to The Weeknd has many questioning the event’s legitimacy, purpose, and standing in the musical landscape.