Women win big at Grammy Awards: Swift, Cyrus, Eilish

by Maria Sherman from The Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles

The Grammy Awards showcased wins for women, including Taylor Swift’s fourth album of the year, Miley Cyrus’s record of the year, and Victoria Monét as best new artist. The stage was lit up with performances by Tracy Chapman and Billy Joel, among others.

154929Chris Pizzello/APTracy Chapman (left) and Luke Combs perform “Fast Car” during the 66th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 4, 2024.

| LOS ANGELES - Taylor Swift won album of the year at the Grammy Awards for “Midnights,” breaking the record for most wins in the category with four.

Earlier in the night Feb. 4, Ms. Swift used her 13th Grammy win to announce her new album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” will arrive April 19.

“I know that the way that the Recording Academy voted is a direct reflection of the passion of the fans,” she said while accepting the best pop vocal album award. “So, I want to say thank you to the fans by telling you a secret that I’ve been keeping from you for the last two years.”

One of the night’s biggest awards, record of the year, went to Miley Cyrus for “Flowers,” her second-ever Grammy and second of the night.

“This award is amazing. But I really hope that it doesn’t change anything because my life was beautiful yesterday,” she said in her speech.

Victoria Monét won best new artist. “Thanks to my mom, a single mom raising this really bad girl,” said Ms. Monét in her acceptance speech. Then she started to cry, telling the room that this award was “15 years in the making.”

Billie Eilish won song of the year for writing the “Barbie” hit, “What Was I Made For?” She thanked director Greta Gerwig for “making the best movie of the year.”

It was just one of several standout moments from the Feb. 4 show, hosted by Trevor Noah and broadcast live from Arena in downtown Los Angeles.

Karol G made Grammy history by becoming the first female performer to win best música urbana album for her blockbuster “Mañana Será Bonito” record.

“This is my first time at the Grammys,” she told the audience in English. “And this is my first time holding my own Grammy.”

Performances were many. Olivia Rodrigo brought her bloodsucking ballad “vampire” – or in this case, bloodletting, as red liquid dripped from the walls behind her. Joni Mitchell made Grammy history by performing “Both Sides Now” from her 1969 album “Clouds”; Travis Scott did a medley of “My Eyes,” “I Know?,” and “Fein.” Burna Boy was joined by Brandy and 21 Savage and did “On Form,” “City Boys,” and “Sittin’ on Top of the World.”

A long and touching In Memoriam segment celebrated many of the musical greats lost last year. Stevie Wonder performed “For Once in My Life” and “The Best Is Yet To Come” in honor of Tony Bennett; Annie Lennox delivered “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinéad O’Connor. “Artists for ceasefire, peace in the world,” Ms. Lennox said at the end of the song, her fist extended in the air.

Jon Batiste did a medley of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean On Me,” and finally “Optimistic” with Ann Nesby for the late great music exec Clarence Avant. Oprah introduced a fiery Tina Turner tribute of “Proud Mary” by Fantasia Barrino and Adam Blackstone.

SZA also took the stage – performing a medley of her larger-than-life hits “Snooze” and “Kill Bill,” joined by dancers wielding katanas. Later, she’d take home the trophy for best R&B song – for “Snooze,” handed to her by Lizzo. 

Luke Combs delivered a heartfelt rendition of “Fast Car” with Tracy Chapman – his cover of Ms. Chapman’s classic has dominated country radio and won him song of the year at the 2023 CMAs. In 1989 the song won Ms. Chapman best female pop vocal performance. Clearly moved, Ms. Chapman’s eyes glistened when the crowd roared as she played the 1988 song’s unforgettable guitar riff. She kept to the background as Mr. Combs brought the song to a new generation, and chose a wise place to reemerge.

Dua Lipa opened the show with a high-octane medley: first, a tease of her forthcoming single, “Training Season,” then, her most recent single, “Houdini,” and finally, her disco-pop “Barbie” hit “Dance the Night.”

Ms. Eilish and Finneas also brought “Barbie” to the Grammys stage with live-string accompaniment. They were followed by Ms. Cyrus, who performed “Flowers” for the first time live on television.

“Why are you acting like you don’t know this song?” she teased the crowd – John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen were among those in the audience who got up to dance – and later cheered mid-song, “I just won my first Grammy!”

Best country album went to Lainey Wilson for “Bell Bottom Country,” – her very first Grammy – as presented by Kacey Musgraves. “I’m a fifth-generation farmer’s daughter,” she told the crowd, adding that she’s a “songwriting farmer,” and that’s where the musical magic came from.

Jay-Z was awarded the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award and used his speech to talk about the hip-hop greats that came before him – and heavily suggesting at the Grammys history of placing rap on the backburner – or at the very least, not in the televised version of the show. (This year, there were no rap categories on the telecast, but two pop, one Latin, one country, and one R&B.)

“We want you all to get it right,” he said. “At least get it close to right,” before switching focus to Beyoncé. “Most Grammys, never won album of the year. How does that work?”

Ms. Bridgers took an early lead at the Grammys, quickly winning four trophies ahead of the main telecast, with her and her boygenius bandmates bringing an infectious energy to the pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony.

Jack Antonoff took home producer of the year, non-classical for a third year in a row, tying Babyface as the only other producer to do so consecutively. “You need the door kicked open for you,” he said in his acceptance speech. “Taylor Swift kicked that [expletive] door open for me,” he said.

The first of three new categories in 2024, best pop dance recording, went to Kylie Minogue for “Padam Padam” – her first win in 18 years.

About 80 Grammys were handed out pre-broadcast. Regional Mexican star Peso Pluma won his first Grammy for his first and only nomination, for best música Mexicana album for his “Genesis.”

Best African music performance, a new category that aims to highlight regional musical traditions and recognize “recordings that utilize unique local expressions from across the African continent,” went to South African singer Tyla for her ubiquitous hit, “Water.”

“I never thought I’d say I won a Grammy at 21 years old,” she said in her acceptance speech. “Last year God decided to change my whole life.”

Killer Mike won three awards in quick succession, but ended up in police custody before the main Grammys ceremony began because of an altercation, police spokesperson Officer Mike Lopez said.

The rapper won his first Grammy in 21 years, for best rap performance for “Scientists & Engineers,” which featured André 3000, Future, and Eryn Allen Kane. Soon afterward, they won for “best rap song.” Killer Mike also took home best rap album for “Michael,” cheering, “It is a sweep! It is a sweep!”

A welcome surprise was the inclusion of Celine Dion, who handed Ms. Swift her record-breaking trophy. 

Billy Joel was both the penultimate and final performance of the night. First, he brought his new track “Turn the Lights Back on” – his first new music in decades – live to the Grammy stage. Then, after the album of the year was announced, he returned to the stage for his 1980 classic, “You May Be Right.”

This story was reported by The Associated Press. AP writer David Bauder contributed to this report. 

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Last edited 2/12/2024 6:31:14 PM

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