The Grammys Go Outdoors

A.J. Fezza, Co-Culture Editor

The Grammys had a daunting task ahead of them for their 2021 ceremony, but they managed it as well as they could. The 2021 Grammys took place on March 14 at 8 p.m., much later than their usual date in January, and awards were given on an outdoor platform outside the STAPLES Center. 

After a brief introduction by host Trevor Noah, the show went immediately into three back-to-back performances. The first performance of the night was Harry Styles, with a laid-back, guitar and trumpet-driven version of “Watermelon Sugar.” Billie Eilish then sang “Everything I Wanted” atop a car, while her brother Finneas accompanied her on keyboard. Finally, the sisters from the band HAIM performed “The Steps.” The acoustic, calm nature of this series of performances was so refreshing, especially in a modern landscape that usually emphasizes spectacles over the music itself. 

Later on were performances by Black Pumas, Dababy, Bad Bunny, Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars.

Bruno Mars, who has been out of the limelight for over 3 years, especially stole the show with his performance of “Leave the Door Open” alongside Anderson .Paak, and his tribute rendition of late rock-and-roll pioneer Little Richard’s song “Good Golly Miss Molly.”

The In Memoriam section reminded us of the many great artists and composers we lost in 2020 and early 2021, such as Eddie Van Halen, Mary Wilson, Bonnie Pointer, Kenny Rogers, and Ennio Morricone. 

The tribute section was followed by some less stellar performances by Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone and others. 

The biggest awards of the night were the following: Song of the Year went to H.E.R for her politically-charged “I Can’t Breathe,” Album of the Year went to Taylor Swift for “Folklore,” and “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish. 

Megan Thee Stallion won Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance, and Best Rap Song for “Savage,” featuring Beyonce. Harry Styles won Best Pop Solo Performance for “Watermelon Sugar.” Fiona Apple won Best Alternative Music Album for “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.” The Strokes won Best Rock Album for “The New Abnormal.” Miranda Lambert won Best Country Album for “Wildcard.” Dua Lipa won Best Pop Vocal Album for “Future Nostalgia.” Beyonce won Best R&B Performance for “Black Parade,” giving her the most Grammys of any singer in history, with 28 awards.

Interspersed with awards and performances were mini-films showcasing each of the nominees for Record of the Year. There were also clips showing how iconic music establishments, from the Troubadour in Los Angeles to Apollo Theater in Manhattan, have dealt with COVID-19 restrictions.

The 2021 Grammys were not as entertaining as any of the previous Grammys ceremonies, which of course had the excitement packed audiences. There were awkward and unprofessional moments this year, like when a car drowned out the voice of Megan Thee Stallion while she accepted her Best New Artist award, and when what sounded like either a plane or loud winds drowned out Taylor Swift as she accepted Album of the Year. The show went 40 minutes over its three hour allotment, and it was obvious. Viewership took a nosedive, with only 8.8 million viewers watching the 2021 Grammys compared to 18.69 million watching the year before.

Fortunately, though, the show ran smoother than did the Golden Globes two weeks prior. Hopefully, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences get the memo that outdoor ceremonies, as flawed as they are, are still vastly superior to virtual ceremonies.