Female performers dominated contemporary music’s top awards on Sunday night as Beyonce and Taylor Swift made Grammys history and 19-year-old Billie Eilish took home the record of the year award.
Beyonce broke the record for the most wins by a female artist, while Swift’s surprise lockdown record folklore was named album of the year and Eilish’s Everything I Wanted won record of the year. Sunday’s win made Swift, 31, the first woman to take home album of the year three times.
Rapper Megan Thee Stallion, known for promoting women’s empowerment, was named best new artist as she claimed three awards at the socially distanced ceremony.
The 26-year-old also won for her rap performance of the single Savage, featuring Beyonce.
The writers of I Can’t Breathe by R&B artist H.E.R won the song of the year, which recognises songwriters rather than performers and was penned to mark last year’s Black Lives Matter protests in the United States.
“I didn’t imagine that my fear and that my pain would turn into impact,” the 23-year-old musician said in accepting the trophy. “That fight we had in us, the summer of 2020, keep that same energy.
The ceremony, hosted by Trevor Noah who anchors The Daily Show, took place a year after COVID-19 grounded tours and forced performance venues to close and is part of an effort by the music world to try to move past a crushing 2020.
“We’re hoping that this is all about what 2021 can be, full of joy, new beginnings and coming together. Never forgetting what happened in 2020 but full of hope for what is to come,” Noah said.
British singer Harry Styles, a feather boa draped around his neck, kicked off the performances and took home the award for best solo performance for his song Watermelon Sugar. Stars including Dua Lipa, DaBaby, Swift, and Eilish also took to the stage.
Beyonce won her 28th Grammy for Black Parade, which was named best R&B song, giving her four wins on the night.
It was not even clear initially that Beyonce would attend the event, held outside in Los Angeles, but she set social media alight after appearing live on the Los Angeles stage alongside Megan Thee Stallion to accept their prize for Savage.
“As an artist, I believe it’s my job and all of our jobs to reflect the times. And it’s been such a difficult time,” Beyonce said, with her husband Jay-Z looking on.
“So I wanted to uplift, encourage, celebrate all of the beautiful Black queens and kings that continue to inspire me and inspire the whole world.”
British star Dua Lipa won best pop vocal album for Future Nostalgia, while Nigerian superstar Burna Boy was a first-time winner taking home the award for best global music album.
Accepting the prize, he said it was “a big win for my generation of Africans all over the world.”
South Korean boyband BTS, meanwhile, lost out in the best pop duo or group performance to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande for their single Rain on Me.
The seven-member band from South Korea had been hoping to be the first K-Pop act to win a Grammy after a breakthrough year in the United States. They performed their hit English-language single Dynamite during the show.