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A Recap of the 66th Annual Grammy Awards

Taylor Swift at the Grammys

Matt O’Connor

The 66th Annual Grammy Awards aired on the evening of the 4th at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. A total of 94 awards were given out to the amazing and talented artists leading the industry. With actor and comedian Trevor Noah taking up the mantle of host, all eyes were on who would take home this year’s golden gramophones. With memorable award winners like Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus, legendary performances from Olivia Rodrigo and Billy Joel, to amazing achievements well earned by Jay Z and Joni Mitchell, this year’s Grammys would go down in history as one of the all time greats. This is what went down during the biggest night for music.

The Spectacular Performances

This year saw an impressive lineup of 10 artists take the stage to deliver some of the most memorable Grammy entertainment in recent memory. To kick off the night, previous three time Grammy award winner Dua Lipa performed a mixture of “Houdini”, “Dance The Night”, and “Training Season”. The latter of which made its debut during the ceremony. The Albanian and English singer has gained a huge following over the past few years, and this performance did not disappoint.

Following momentous showings from Luke Combs and Tracy Chapman, the most nominated artist of 2024, SZA, stunned the crowd with a high octane display of action and emotion as she performed her hit song “Kill Bill”, which is heavily based on the Quentin Tarantino film duology of the same name. Instead of the somewhat traditional bright colors and green screen visuals, SZA summoned an entourage of katana-wielding warriors to deliver a well choreographed number that doubles as an engaging action scene. Out of all of the performances that occurred during the show, SZA’s definitely left the crowd in amazement and disbelief.

Later on in the show, former Disney star Olivia Rodrigo embraced the darkness as she sang her recent sensation “Vampire.” Rodrigo has been praised as a strong up and coming artist who’s already gotten her foot wedged through the door. Her previous studio album “GUTS” quickly topped the charts around the world, and it was at the Crypto.com Arena where she brought her malignant melody to life. Rodrigo blew everyone away with her magnificent vocal abilities while blood enveloped the stage.

Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” was a smash hit and the overall highest grossing film of 2023, and one of the many popular things to originate from the movie was “What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell. During the ceremony, the sibling duo delivered a somber yet beautiful performance of the song that took social media by storm over the summer. On top of their amazing teamwork on the stage, Billie and Finneas both received the Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Song Written For Visual Media. During her acceptance speech for the former category, the pair were overwhelmed with shock and emotion. Eilish stated “That was a crazy list of incredible people, incredible artists, incredible music. I feel crazy right now.”.

The Swift Streak Continues

Taylor Swift has made a name for herself as one of the most innovative and prominent figures as of late. In 2023 alone she held the most successful concert of all time, brought about a whole new wave of fans to the NFL, and even became Time’s Person of the Year. And after cleaning house at last year’s VMA’s by winning nine awards out of her eleven nominations, Taylor continues to dominate the world of music in 2024.

Firstly, the proclaimed “Queen of Pop” took home Album of the Year, one of the biggest awards of the entire night. With her 2024, Swift has won Album of the Year four times, setting a new record for the category.

As presented by the equally legendary Celine Dion, the music sensation was starstruck by the amount of support and admiration for her work. But before she received this award, she played a card that she had been keeping up her sleeve for two years.

During her acceptance speech for winning the award of Best Pop Vocal Album, Taylor dropped a massive bombshell that she would be releasing a brand new album in April entitled “The Tortured Poets Department”. The artist had previously stated that her next release would be the rerecording of “Reputation.” When this announcement hit the airwaves, people lost their minds. Taylor Swift has a grip on the music industry that’s tight enough where a simple name drop for her next project will send out worldwide ripples.

First Time Winners

It wasn’t just familiar faces that won gramophones that night, there were plenty of artists that won their first ever award, which is a big achievement for anyone who has a passion for making music. Whether it was established names that earned their Grammy after years in the industry or the newcomers that achieved their big wins after staying dedicated to their craft in order to get off the ground, 2024 is truly a celebration of music’s next generation of new blood.

Miley Cyrus initially found her big break when she starred in the Disney Channel series “Hannah Montana” as the titular character. Fast forward to now, where she won not one but two Grammys for the first time in one night! She was nominated for and won both Best Pop Solo Performance and Record of the Year for her album and song “Flowers”. Having gone so many years without an award of this caliber, the artist was bewildered when her name was read off of the judgmental pink envelope by the Queen of Christmas herself, Mariah Carey. Like many of the nominated artists, Cyrus performed her nominated song during the show. She was so excited by her accomplishment that she replaced one of the lyrics of the song with “I just won my first Grammy!”. But that wasn’t the end, as she went on to accept another Grammy near the end of the night, setting a huge milestone for her career.

While artists and their music from the United States get much recognition, the Grammys also showed a lot of love to artists from around the world. One of the recognized winners is Karol G, who took home the Música Urbana Album award for “Mañana Será Bonito”. Previously, Karol had won five awards during the Latin Grammys, including the award for Best New Artist. While up on the stage, the Colombian singer and songwriter found herself overcome with emotion and gratitude. “I’m super happy, I’m super nervous, I’m super excited to be in front of so many legends that I admire and respect,”

In addition to other well deserved winners such as Boygenius and Phoebe Bridgers, one of the most exciting award categories of the night is the annual pick for Best New Artist. With previous winners including Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion and Samara Joy, this specific Grammy’s recipients have always shown determination and skill, and this year is no exception. Taking home the award for 2024 is Victoria Monét, who is most known for her record “On My Mama” and her album “Jaguar II”. When it comes to this award, the winner is often catapulted into a new wave of success for their career, and we’ve seen that happen with many of the crowned winners in previous years. Victoria Monét started off strong, and it seems like she will soon soar to new heights.

In Memoriam: A Tribute To Those We Lost

With every Grammys show comes a respected and touching tradition. To pay respects to the musical talents that sadly left us in 2023, Stevie Wonder led the audience in bidding their final farewell to those we lost in a moving tribute to their legacy. He held back tears as he performed “For Once in My Life”, which was written by his good friend, the late Tony Bennett, who died over the summer at 96. After originally hearing the song as a teenager, Wonder would record a cover of the song in 1968. The two would eventually collaborate and perform a duet of the song in 2006.

As the names of the stars whose lives were celebrated continued, Annie Lennox poured her heart and soul into a tribute for Sinéad O’Connor in a performance of “Nothing Compares 2 U”. Sinéad sadly passed away in July at the age of 56. As a way of carrying on her legacy of activism, Lennox made a statement in front of the crowd calling for a cease-fire. O’Connor was a frequent activist for Human Rights, and her desire for change still rings true among thousands.

The Memoriam came to end with a collaborative performance by Jon Batiste, Ann Nesby and Fantasia Barrino to celebrate the life of Tina Turner. Her tribute was introduced by Oprah Winfrey, who said “From the moment I met Tina, first as a fan, then later blessed to become her friend, she was a special kind of role model. She used to say to me: ‘Oprah, you should always dress up for dinner even if no one else is there, just so you feel beautiful, to you, for yourself.’ And as those big wheels of time keep on turning, Tina’s voice continues to speak to all of us.”

While we lost many amazing music legends, their legacies will continue to live on.

Jay-Z’s Lifetime Achievement

After Dr. Dre received the award last year during the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop, the fabled Jay-Z is this year’s esteemed recipient of the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award which was given the name of its preceding winner. He began his career in the 1980s, and he would rise to become one of the most influential figures in the hip hop and rap community over the course of the next three decades. Standing alongside him to accept his metallic jet black gramophone was his eldest daughter Blue Ivy Carter. Jay-Z has won a grand total of 24 Grammys in his career, with a staggering 88 nominations on top of that. This is the culmination of over thirty years of hard work and so much passion that was put into his music.

During his acceptance speech, the famed rapper talked about his life and what drove him to continue producing and recording the music that he loved. But one interesting detail came up when he mentioned his wife and the artist with the most Grammy wins, Beyoncé. Despite her 29 awards and 88 nominations alongside her husband, Beyoncé has never won album of the year. Jay-Z took some time during his speech to criticize the Academy for never once giving his wife the prestigious award. Despite his somewhat strained relationship with the Academy in the past, Jay-Z has still proven himself to be one of the most influential and creative minds in music history.

Triumphant Returns

The evening of February 4th was not only a celebration of the newer generation of music artists, but to the veterans of the industry as well. Even at the age of 80, Joni Mitchell proved that you can still deliver an amazing performance no matter your age. The Canadian- American singer performed her 1969 song “Both Sides, Now”, much to the amazement and awe of the crowd. Once she and her fellow performers finished, Trevor Noah honored Mitchell with a Grammy for Best Folk Album for her 2023 album “Joni Mitchell at Newport”. Through her memorable rendition of one of her best songs and one of the strongest wills the music industry has ever seen, Joni Mitchell has firmly secured her spot as a timeless music artist.

After years of taking a backseat and avoiding making new songs, the iconic Billy Joel’s grand revival acted as the final performance of the night with him singing his brand new single “Turn the Lights Back On”, which is the first song that the artist has released in 17 years. After a number of successful hits, Billy Joel decided to take a step back from songwriting in the 2000s after losing the motivation and enjoyment of the medium. But after getting to know and becoming friends with longtime Billy Joel superfan Freddy Wexler, Joel was convinced to give it another go. The singer has been nominated for 23 Grammy awards and has taken home 6. Billy Joel touched the hearts of a generation with iconic hits such as “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and “Piano Man”, and now his talents have been reinvigorated for the music fans of tomorrow.

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