2021 GRAMMYs…WARNING: TOO HOT TO HANDLE! Highlights & Fabulous Custom Masks of Music’s Biggest Night.

It is well known that I love the commentary.  Especially on GRAMMYs night.  It’s my Holy Mecca.  My Superbowl.  My Oscars. My….well you get it.

As an artist singing and music are life, therefore, tuning in to see what beautiful art came out the 2021 Grammys was an absolute must.  

The event was broadcasted partially outside of the Staples Center, to promote social distancing for the award recipients’ stage (complete with a car revving in the background during Megan Thee Stallion’s acceptance speech).  The other half of the show filmed inside with small sound stages, as well as pre-recorded performances.  

Because there really was so so much for a PANDEMIC organized event, I have condensed it down to categories of presentations for the night.

First, the breakdown of the televised award winners:

Best New Artist: Megan Thee Stallion

Song of the Year: “I Can’t Breathe”—H.E.R.

Country Album: “Wildcard”—Miranda Lambert

Best Pop Solo Performance: “Watermelon Sugar”—Harry Styles

Best Rap Song: “Savage (Remix)”—Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyonce

Album of the Year: “Folklore”—Taylor Swift

Best Pop Vocal Album: “Future Nostalgia”—Dua Lipa

Record of the Year: “Everything I Wanted”—Billie Eilish

Best R&B Performance: “Black Parade”—Beyonce

TREVOR NOAH

H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S.  He brought the humor and the digs to the artists without the Ricky Gervais cringeworthy delivery.  I think my favorite quote was, “If your kids are watching, just explain to them that WAP is about giving a cat a bath.”  And then he kept rolling with this one by repeating “there’s some w***** in this house” while dancing on the stage-sized bed where Cardi and Megan had just performed.  

And then again repeated part of Megan’s verse after a commercial break. He really likes the song, guys.

He brought a lightness to a somewhat dimmed night.  He brought the energy and playfulness as if he was running around the theatre during a regularly broadcasted show.  His comedic genius just amplifies his pleasant personality, and simply put, I love him.  He’s funny, he’s likable, he writes really good jokes (referring to Post Malone, he says that the most reading he’s ever done this past year was his face tattoos), and he wanted everyone to have a good time in this unusual setting. He certainly lived up to that.  

Only thing funnier than him is how the firing will go for the idiot who glued those award envelopes that literally NO ONE could open properly.  These aren’t CIA documents guys, come on.

Now, if they could have only left out the fake audience laughter like from an 80’s sitcom.  

Because you don’t have people in the audience to laugh.

Thanks COVID, good looking out!

MASKS

I said I would talk about it.  This is me talking about it, they were amazing.  Just when you think people can’t have any more money, or at least any other creative ways to spend it, have someone sew a custom one by hand to match your designer couture outfit.  What, you wouldn’t?

Taylor Swift had flowers. FLOWERS.  

Also, they disguised Beyonce enough that Megan didn’t even see her until she went to accept the award for “Savage”, as well as the disappointment of the nominees who lost and had to clap politely (drama!).  

That is never awkward, said no one ever.

BEYONCE.

I’m just pausing for a minute…

I purposely put a period after her name because she is just a full sentence at this point.  

So, guess what she did???…..

  1. Basically won two awards back to back.
  2. Broke THREE records in a single night (and I mean in a span of MAYBE 20 minutes); tied with Alison Krauss for the most GRAMMYs by a female artist (27); then turned around and thanked Alison for how cute she was as she skated off with her 28th GRAMMY; and for both wins, most GRAMMYs ever won by a Black female artist.  She did like a $1.00 up Price is Right bet, ‘Kay??
  3. And oh, conceived and gave birth to a young child who won a GRAMMY the same night.  At 9 years old. 

At 9 years old, I was watching the brand new Saturday morning TV hit, “Power Rangers”. 

That’s it.

That’s basically it.

Watch Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift catch up, watch. 

Moving on….

“TO THE LADIES!!” (Happy March y’all)

The ladies put it down tonight.  WIth nominations, awards, and performances.  This was a real Ladies’ Night, and boy, am I proud.

Let’s start with the phenom, Mickey Guyton, whom I now stand for, as the first Black female artist to be nominated for Best Country Album.  And delivered an incredible performance of her song “Black Like Me” (“It’s a hard life on the easy street….and if you think we live in the land of the free, you should try living Black like me”).

Doja Cat performing “Say So” in a futuristic, black leather, Cat Woman outfit (“tell me what do tigers dream of….”); background dancers donned with cat motorcycle helmets, and all jumping out of life-sized doll glass cases.  She did full choreography and sang and rapped with perfect vocals, and then decided to hit us with some legit musical ad-libs I have not heard live before, so she’s showing her artistry with a vengeance.

Brittany Howard. Brittany Howard.  She wears a full-length black silk coat, with an oversized bow and puffy sleeves, transparent sunglasses, and stylish natural coif, while singing her gut out with “You’ll Never Walk Alone” for the in memoriam tribute.  And Chris Martin just was hanging out at the piano playing for her.  No biggie.

Taylor Swift just basically teleported you into Neverland.  Enough said.

Maren Morris rocked the coolest red gown with a front slit, while John Mayer jammed on the electric guitar.  She brought some of that Meghan Trainor soul, he didn’t even sing, and it was still a fabulous collab.

There really are no words for the individual, and collab, performances by Megan and Cardi.  Well, maybe a few.

Megan is on a “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’’ set, mixed with Vegas showgirl costumes and Fosse choreo. Complete with a pair of tap dancers who did full justice to the Nicholas and Hines brothers, while twerking to “Body” (bro, she literally grabbed her butt and jiggled it—swoon!)

Then, they probably broke the Guinness’ World Record for the largest stiletto shoe ever, along with a massive bed (who makes these things?).  The heel on the stiletto was large enough to be its own stripper pole.

They made it rain, there was a full-on stripper vibe on the live television stage, with some very-close-to-soft-porn movements. They rocked it, not suitable for under 18 viewers, and got a whole lot of out loud “WOAH”s from me.  Complete with a joyous standing ovation from Post Malone in the audience.

One of my favorite songs is “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert.  And she kind of brought that calm nostalgic vibe to her performance of “Bluebird”.  She had a beautiful blue sequined top with side slits, standing on a stage lined with flowers, under flowers hanging from the stage’s ceiling.  It was simple, soft, and pretty, and the lyrics go “and if the world keeps giving me lemons, just mix them in my drink”. Girl power!

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: In this image released on March 14, Miranda Lambert performs onstage during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California and broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Billie Eilish stood on a car half embedded into the stage.  On an angle.  Wearing an onyx stone headdress.  And brought THAT voice to “Everything I Wanted”, with bro Finneas in tow on the keys. And just to top off the night, accepted her award from presenter Ringo, and gave an honorable nod for the award to Megan.

HAIM decided to invoke the spirits of Janis Joplin, the Mamas, and the Papas, and basically every legendary rock band of the ’60s and ’70s into one song.  Talent is not a big enough word to describe these sisters.  Those bass-playing faces thooooo! Whew!

Dua Lipa.  Current queen of the disco comeback.  Diana Ross would be proud as she transformed from a full purple gown to a suit jacket, to a bustier and bikini briefs, all from one cohesive outfit. Then later stunned us again with a sparkling, form-fitting gown complete with a rainbow butterfly on the bodice, which she wore to accept her award.

She is a real professional model, like for real for real.  Stunning. 

COLLABS COLLABS EVERYWHERE!

I mentioned Maren and John, and Brittany and Chris.  Also, Jhene Aiko and Jacob Collier were only presenting an award and I was drooling over a collab between those two, which would be EPIC. Eyes closed, hands raised emojis inserted here.  I really really want to see that.  I’m probably going to tweet about that later:  @niknik8301

THE collab of the night was easily Bruno Mars and Anderson. Paak, also now known as Silk Sonic.  Oh boy oh boy oh boy…..

Remember those early 80’s music videos, with the lapsed filter and kaleidoscope effects?? Like “Rock With You” era? Yeah, they did that.  

The song is called “Leave the Door Open”.  They then had the nerve to recreate the music and choreography similar to the Temptations, Gap Band, and Earth, Wind & Fire, all in one.  I have beef now.  

This song, and then the monster live vocals they delivered, was just one for the books.  I guess that’s what happens when you put two musical geniuses together in a room and say, “hey, y’all wanna work on something?”.

They return later for an explosive Little Richard tribute.  And yet again, Bruno Mars crosses the line with his vocal greatness that basically hits Little Richard spot on (the same mustache even!).  He would have been mad he did so well saying he was trying to steal his job LOL.  

Bruno, anything you CAN’T do??? Leave some for the rest of us dude, seriously. (eye roll)

This is the beauty of music, it transcends time.  You have contemporary artists that are bringing back the artistry we saw develop during the ’80s and 90’s GRAMMY years.  It bridges generations and connects the old to the new to the old again.  It’s times like these that I wish my dad was still alive so we could geek out and discuss all of this together.  He would have loved that performance.  It is to him that I owe my appreciation for the craft and history of music.

Da Baby and Roddy Rich performed “Rockstar”, a rap song, with a gospel choir of awkward middle-aged White women dancing and lip-syncing in the back (combusting inside).  I think this may have been a nod to the typical stand-in Black choir behind a White pop artist.  It’s funny.  And oh yeah, Anthony Hamilton decided to join the party!

Da Baby states, and I quote, “I always find a way to get ahead with my intelligence when they critique my demeanor”. One of the best lines ever written (cr. “Hot Shower”). He shows you what he means with this performance.  He’s dressed in full white, rhinestoned Michael Jackson gloves, and a conductor’s wand, conducting.  But it’s a real mind trick because combining this, with the fierceness of his flawless rapid rap cadence, is really two different worlds.  As the great quote of a reaction video goes, “the swag is impeccable bro, impeccable.”  Roddy Rich also donned a classic-style tuxedo while jumping out on the stage with the familiar hip-hop hyped vibe.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Yes, I am going to write about this, and the Academy truly gave it the respect it deserves.  

“I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R. won Song of the Year, which frankly, I was pleasantly surprised to see.  She was too.  

Beyonce wins R&B performance for “Black Parade”, and breaks records. 

Billie Eilish basically handed her award to Megan Thee Stallion, just as Adele did for Beyonce a few years back for “Formation”.

If you want pure chills, watch Lil Baby’s “Bigger Picture” performance, featuring rapper and activist Killer Mike. Similar to Kendrick Lamar’s performance from the 2016 GRAMMYs, let’s remind everyone of what is truly happening in the world.

In the style of Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” one-shot panoramic, the performance opens with a Black man relaxing in his car, only to be approached by two officers. Making him step out of the car with his license, being pinned to the ground, and then shot as he runs away.  It only progresses from there with visions of burning buildings from riots.

Flares and smoke bombs flooding the streets with protestors and shielded police officers; a powerful live rally speech that personally calls out President Biden to step up and deliver. Finally a triumphant shot of Lil Baby standing on a car and fireworks above.  Like I said, chills.  

The Academy did not shy away from the other sensitive public matters they had to deal with recently.  They addressed it through the speech from the interim President, a Black man, Harvey Mason Jr. Who promises to promote diversity within, as well as a legalese statement during a commercial break denouncing all of “the isms”.

TRIBUTES

Every year, it gets longer and longer, and sadder and sadder to watch the “In Memoriam”.  This segment most likely was close to 15 whole minutes.  It is never fun, but worth watching to honor those that touched our world so broadly.  Trevor introduces this segment with “over 1,000” members of the music community that was lost in 2020, no doubt, some due to COVID.  The full list is on the GRAMMY site.

Also, friends remembered friends, and I believe that is what made it heart-wrenching.  Lionel Ritchie sang in memory of Kenny Rogers, and Brandi Carlile sang to John Prine, and later thanked him for all he did.  Both filled with emotion and photographic memories as a backdrop. 

The most haunting tribute of all was a single electric guitar, in the spotlight of a dark stage, while Eddie Van Halen wafts through the air.  He’s here but he’s not here.  

We miss them all, don’t we?

COMMERCIALS

CBS is BRILLIANT at this tactic to promote artists and products.  I recommend searching for the GRAMMY commercials to showcase artists that may not have been televised.  It is a way to introduce new talent to the stage.  I remember when I saw H.E.R. introduced on the BET awards and Luke James on “Black Girls Rock”, and thought, “these stars are about to make it”.

I have a certain bias for a certain Samsung Galaxy promotion, for a certain Korean group, that did not win their award (sad face).  But still so proud.  

SAVE LOCAL BUSINESSES CAMPAIGN

An imaginative move was the pre-recorded interviews of local bar owners and the Apollo Theatre. To bring awareness (and hopefully money!) to the COVID problem.  The owners and staff were brought on to present awards.  

These are historic landmarks that showcased some of the nominated talent of the night as well as other known acts.  It was a positive hope, but they need help.  Whatever can be done.  Don’t let that history die. 

AAAANYHOOO….

All in all, this was one of the best years they have ever done it.  It seems like it is a year on, a year off, thing for me.  I don’t know if I watched all of it last year, there was a lot happening around this time.  

I enjoyed the directed montages of the Record of the Year nominees explaining their history and journey to the ceremony.  

BTS’ “Dynamite” was performed in Seoul. They recreated the GRAMMYs closed red carpet, inside their building. Then danced and sang their way to the roof of that skyscraper, surrounded by the South Korean skyline.  

What was the absolute best was, the artists were the performers and audience.  Normally, we get a zip line shot of the who’s who in the front rows, but not long enough to really appreciate watching them stan.  They’re fans too!  Some were seen singing and rocking along to the live performances, and that’s what true musicians are, and what I feel the 2021 GRAMMYs ceremony is getting back to.  Just groove and go with what speaks to you.  

With all that being said, shout out to The Weeknd who was not invited to the party. Sigh.

But you got the Superbowl, right? 🤷🏽‍♀️

Thank you to my team for making this article possible: my iPad, my dying Bluetooth keyboard, my last squeeze of Diet Coke for caffeine…

(cutoff music plays)

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