• Jermaine Thomas, II

2021 GRAMMY Award Moments to Remember... and Forget

The Best

Megan Thee Stallion & Beyoncé's Acceptance Speech

Megan Thee Grammy Award-Winning Stallion and Beyoncé were the stars of the night. Picking up a total of five Grammy Awards between them, these two owned the night. From the moment Queen Bey (pronounced ‘Bee’, not ‘Bay’) appeared on our screens seated near the front with husband Jay-Z, attention was on her. But being the humble queen she is, Bey was conscious to not take over the moment and ensure that equal love was given to both Meg and herself during their acceptance speech for Savage (Remix) winning Best Rap Performance, watch below.

Seeing these two Black women celebrate one another while being celebrated across social media, and by the Academy was amazing to watch. Megan Thee Stallion has had a truly stellar year, topping it off by being recognized alongside one of the musicians who inspired her most is everything she deserves.



HAIM performing "The Steps"

The first strong performance of the night came from the three sisters of the band HAIM. Performing “The Steps” from the Grammy-nominated album Women In Music Pt. III facing each other in a circle, HAIM exerted an extreme amount of passion in their performance. “The Steps”, a song about being misunderstood and consistently taken for granted, was emoted in a grand way by the lead Danielle Haim’s gritty vocals, while going in on both the guitar and the drums alongside her sister’s, Este and Alana, stomping and shredding on the bass and guitar, respectively.

This performance also highlighted the innovative use of space that the GRAMMYs invoked this year. In the wings, you can see performers, Harry Styles, and Billie Eilish bopping along. Placing HAIM in the round and allowing them to play to each other added a certain intimacy to their performance, as well.



H.E.R winning Song of the Year

The power of the pen is extreme. H.E.R, Tiara Thomas, and D’Mile proved this last July with the release of the Song of the Year, “I Can’t Breathe.” This track speaks for itself, so I’ll leave you with the spoken word you can listen to at the tail end of the recording.


That kind of uncomfortable conversation

Is too hard for your trust-fund pockets to swallow

To swallow the strange fruit hanging from my family tree

Because of your audacity

To say all men are created equal in the eyes of God

But disparage a man based on the color of his skin

Do not say you do not see color

When you see us, see us

We can't breathe


Lizzo presenting Best New Artist

Lizzo added some of her unique flavor to the telecast during the presentation of the night’s first award for Best New Artist, which Lizzo won last year. Rocking a gown styled by Brett Alan Nelson and designed by Olivier Rousteing, Lizzo was showed us again the power of being authentically yourself, all the time. In a moment of excitement at returning to the Grammy stage, Lizzo proclaimed, “B*tch, I’m back!” followed by “Oop, God. Oh I’m so sorry!” creating one of the most entertaining, and relatable moments of the night. I mean, after all the mess, it is still the Grammys.



The Good

Roddy Rich performing "Heartless" and "The Box"

Every performance that I watch of Roddy’s allows my appreciation of his sheer musicality to increase. The instrumentation under the vocals of his new song “Heartless” is very pleasing to the ear. I am all for versatility and depth in Blackness. Roddy’s medley performance of “Heartless” and “The Box” proved once again that Black people are not a monolith.


Mickey Guyton performing "Black Like Me"

“It’s a hard life, on easy street. Just white picket fences far as you can see. If you think we live in the land of the free, you should try to be Black Like me.” Mickey Guyton sang the house down boots while performing her song “Black Like Me”, which was nominated for Best Country Solo Performance this year. I personally don’t dabble too much in the country genre, but this song definitely drew my attention. I’m a sucker for a soulful choir, a strong belting climax, and art that represents the Black experience in America. Mickey pulled off all of those things in this performance.


Brittany Howard performing "You'll Never Walk Alone"

Brittany Howard performed her newest single, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” during the In Memoriam section of the telecast with Chris Martin on the piano. Brittany holds a very special place in my heart as her concert was the last concert I attended before COVID-19 and quarantine struck the US. Her powerful stage presence could be felt even through the TV. Her voice and talent are truly gifts to marvel at.


Black Pumas performing "Colors"

My appreciation for different types of soul music is growing as of late, “Colors” by Black Pumas definitely added to that growth. The joy of live performances for me is the ability to see how the artists embody the song their performing, and the Black Pumas represent the song very well in their three-minute performance.


The Meh

Harry Styles performing "Watermelon Sugar"

Kicking off the night was an incredibly low-energy rendition of one of my favorite songs of 2020, Watermelon Sugar. Social media hypes up Harry Styles in a way that he did not match on the stage. I expected a much stronger stage presence and vocal panache that just wasn’t there. Not to mention the outfit choice, the misplaced boa on top of the shirtless blazer was a miss for me. I was truly afraid for the rest of the show due to this performance. Putting Harry Styles first was …. a choice.


Da Baby performing "Rockstar"

Weird. Weird. DaBaby’s performance of “Rockstar” with Anthony Hamilton and Roddy Ricch was quite off. Behind DaBaby was a group of White people in black (judges?) robes, lip-syncing, and dancing sans rhythm throughout the song. I’m not sure what the reference or goal of this was, but it did not land at all. After the short ROTY film for “Rockstar” in which DaBaby claimed he was a rockstar, this performance was nothing short of underwhelming, lacking depth. Just off-color in general, definitely leaving the people very confused.


“Black Firsts” in 2021

The year is 2021, and Black people are still being named the “first” to do things. This year, we saw the first Black woman (Mickey Guyton) nominated for Best Country Solo Performance and the first Black man (Kaytranada) win for Best Dance/Electronic Album. This is why people have a hard time validating the Grammys beyond the pomp and circumstance. Black people were an indelible part of both country and dance music. Yet, we still have waited ten and seventeen years respectively to be recognized. Speaking of representation…..


Grammys Statement on Diversity

Now, the Grammys making a public statement acknowledging that there is work to do is great. However, I wish it would have been done in a much more intriguing way. The advertisement-like pre-recorded statement seemed like a run-of-the-mill commercial supporting the overall gift of music. But it wasn’t, it was a plea from the Academy for grace, forgiveness, pledging their growth. I wish the statement was more forthright. Calling out the need for diversity, representation and transparency were well needed, but it could’ve come without the fluff as an attempt to prove there is some “good” mixed in with the “bad”. We didn’t need the Grammys to remind us that music is essential, and they support the arts and artist’s rights for them to guarantee that a new day is coming. Just be clear and say that. Watch below.



Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/63rd_Annual_Grammy_Awards#Performers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haim_(band)#Musical_style

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/grammy-winners-nominees-2021/

https://www.musixmatch.com/

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lizzos-stylist-brett-nelson-and-balmains-olivier-rousteing-on-her-classic-but-new-grammys-look-exclusive#:~:text=Stylist%20Brett%20Alan%20Nelson%20and,New%22%20Grammys%20Look%20(Exclusive)

Cover Image: Billboard


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