Welcome to the Biggest Night in Music. For the past 62 years, the Recording Academy has highlighted trailblazers and talents that dominate the music industry every spring. And last night’s ceremony proved to be historic. Literally!
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, South African comedian and current host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, hosted the show and provided the ultimate comic relief and show guidance needed in the most abnormal show in the history of the Grammys.
With social distancing in place and masks adorned, musicians sat eagerly waiting to hear the winners and watch the performances.
Among them, here are the most iconic moments of last night’s 63rd Grammy Awards.
#1 The revolving opening acts
Famed soloist (and fashion icon) Harry Styles kicked off the opening performances on last night’s show, setting the stage for three ultimate back-to-back performances. Singing his summertime hit “Watermelon Sugar”, Styles hit the stage in a tailored black leather suit and green boa to accessorize.
The next performer after Styles was last year’s Grammy sweep, 19-year-old Billie Eilish, and her brother/collaborator Finneas; as they performed their groundbreaking song “All I Ever Wanted” atop a smoky car.
For the last opening performance, the girl power-fueled group of sister Haim performed “The Steps” from their nominated 2020 album Women in Music Pt. III, which included plenty of hairography and instrumental multitasking.
#2 Megan Thee Stallion’s Best New Artist Win
Houston native and “Hot Girl Summer” enthusiast, Megan Thee Stallion won the first award of the night. She modeled a satin orange dress complete with a Texas-sized bow adorning her back and a coordinating mask going into her historic win for the Best New Artist. Megan triumphed over other incoming artists—including Phoebe Bridgers and Doja Cat—leading her to be the first female rap/hip-hop artist to win in 22 years, with Lauryn Hill being the last.
In a move solidifying 2020 as the most successful year of her career to date, Megan celebrated her win with two other awards later in the night, including Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.
#3 The performance debut of Silk Sonic
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak introduced their new supergroup Silk Sonic to the Grammys audience. They performed their debut single “Leave the Door Open” which proved that the 70s aesthetic is alive and well and that group is eagerly one to watch this year. Later that evening, they appeared in the “In Memoriam” segment, performing again for a tribute to 1950s legend Little Richard.
#4 Taylor Swift’s cottagecore fantasy
In her second performance promoting her surprise album folklore, Taylor Swift began laying in a mossy patch, singing her single “cardigan” directly to the camera. As more of the performance was revealed, we then find her in a small cottage on stage, with collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner for a performance of another song from folklore, “august”. To close, Swift performed “willow” from her second album in 2020, evermore.
#5 The “In Memoriam” segment
The most somber note of any award show will always be the “In Memoriam” segment. Highlighting the brilliant talents and artists lost in the past year is enriching, but the grieving is always too real. For this year’s segment, four performances were intertwined with graphics and acclaim to those stars lost. Touching tributes of the night included a highlight of Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” solo, as his lone, red-striped guitar sat in front.
Performances included Lionel Richie’s performance of “Lady”, in honor of his dear friend and collaborator Kenny Rogers, and Brandi Carlile’s touching performance of “I Remember Everything”, dedicated to singer/songwriter John Prine, who passed away from COVID-19 complications last year.
#6 H.E.R.’s Song of the Year Win
R&B icon H.E.R., was awarded the Grammy for Song of the Year, for her protest track “I Can’t Breathe”, written in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Written on a Facetime call with Tiara Thomas—her frequent co-writer—it quickly became “…the soundtrack of a movement”.
Singing of the impact of a violent death on a community of voices allowed H.E.R to use her platform in an effort to defeat injustice and share her stance to all audiences.
#7 Megan Thee Stallion’s old Hollywood-inspired performance
For her second appearance on this list, Megan performed a medley of her two biggest tracks, “Body” and “Savage” (the Remix, with a Beyonce feature). Complete with cash confetti, sparkling diamonds, and an energetic tap dancing performance break, Megan’s Grammy debut proved to be celebrated.
#8 Beyonce’s surprise Grammy record history
While on stage accepting the award for Best Rap Performance for her work with Megan Thee Stallion, Trevor Noah quickly intercepted the two to let Beyonce know that she just tied the record for most Grammy wins in the past 63 years by not only a female artist, but any artist altogether. With 27 under her belt, it quickly became 28 before the night ended. Beyonce became the most awarded female artist in the history of the Grammys, following a win for Best R&B Performance for “Black Parade”.
#9 Doja Cat’s robotic performance
Following a viral TikTok moment in mid-2020, pop and hip-hop star Doja Cat brought her song of the summer to the Grammys stage. Performing the ever-so-danceable “Say So”, Doja Cat began with a robot-style intro, complete with whirring sound effects and futuristic costumes, before quickly snapping into choreography. The performance featured the TikTok dance created to the song by user @yodelinghaley, then later popularized by Doja Cat herself.
#10 Independent venue owners and workers presenting awards
To show support to music venues and clubs that have sadly shuttered their doors indefinitely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Recording Academy welcomed four owners and workers of iconic venues as award presenters for the night, including Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Country Album.
Venue owners and managers included JT Gray from The Station Inn in Nashville, Rachelle Erratchu of the Troubador in West Hollywood, Billy Mitchell of the Apollo Theater in New York, and Candice Fox from the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles.
In a night set in different circumstances, the 63rd Grammys were still able to hit the right note in 2021.