With the pandemic putting a halt to live performances, Taylor Swift made up for a year off the road with a three-song set at the Grammy Awards, where she could make history as the first woman to win album of the year three times.
She sang “cardigan” and “august” from her nominated-album “folklore,” as well as “willow” from “evermore.” She was joined by the collaborators who helped her make the albums, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, who both are also nominated alongside Swift for the top prize.
Swift won album of the year with her albums “Fearless” and “1989.” Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra and Paul Simon are some of the male performers who have won album of the year three times. Several producers or engineers have also won the award three times, and the only person to win the prize four times is mastering engineer Tom Coyne, who died in 2017.
Silk Sonic, aka Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, also performed, bringing a throwback R&B vibe to the show with their smooth new single, “Leave the Door Open.” Dua Lipa proved her pop star status with a performance of her hits “Don’t Start Now” and “Levitating,” where she was joined by the DaBaby, who was an all-star during his own performance of his guitar-tinged rap hit “Rockstar,” flipping the song for an exceptional live rendition featuring R&B singer Anthony Hamilton, a skilled violinist and background singers.
Other performers included Bad Bunny, HAIM, Black Pumas, Billie Eilish and Harry Styles, who won best pop solo performance for the hit “Watermelon Sugar.”
“To everyone who made this record with me, thank you so much,” said Styles, the first member of One Direction to win a Grammy.
Host Trevor Noah kicked off the show telling jokes about the coronavirus pandemic and the year that was 2020. He was live from downtown Los Angeles, with attendees wearing masks and sitting, socially distanced, at small round tables.
Megan Thee Stallion, who is set to perform, won the first televised award of the night: best new artist. Silent and shocked, she paused in front of the microphone as the audience cheered her on. She went on to thank her fellow nominees, God and her mother, who died in 2019.
“I know she’s here with me in spirit,” she said.
Megan Thee Stallion won best rap performance for “Savage” during the pre-ceremony, sharing the win with Beyonce and helping the pop star earn her 26th Grammy, edging close to Alison Krauss’ 27-win record.
Beyonce, this year’s leading contender with nine nominations, also won best music video for “Brown Skin Girl,” sharing the award with daughter Blue Ivy Carter, who is also having a historic night: At 9 years old, she’s the second youngest to win a Grammy. Leah Peasall was 8 when The Peasall Sisters won album of the year at the 2002 show for their appearance on the T Bone Burnett-produced “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack.
Beyonce’s other nominations include song and record of the year, best R&B performance and best rap song.
While Beyonce is set to have a historic night, history could repeat itself and she could be shut out of winning a top award – a common occurrence for R&B and rap artists throughout Grammy history. Of her 26 wins, only one has been for one of the big four Grammys, song of the year. She has lost album of the year three times and record of the year five times.
Jay-Z has never won a top award, and he and his wife join a list of mostly Black performers who have been restricted to wins in the rap and R&B categories, including Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Eminem, Drake, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige and more.
This year The Weeknd was the one who was snubbed. Despite having the biggest hit of 2020 with “Blinding Lights” and a top-selling, multi-hit album, he didn’t earn any nominations. He’s won three Grammys so far – only in the R&B categories – but he’s vowed to boycott the Grammys because he doesn’t agree with how the Recording Academy selects its winners.
Still, Beyonce and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” could become the second hip-hop song to win record of the year.
Cardi B, BTS, Post Malone, Chris Martin, Lil Baby, John Mayer, Maren Morris and Doja Cat will also perform.
During the pre-show, Fiona Apple and Kaytranda were also double winners Sunday. John Prine and Chick Corea both earned two wins posthumously. Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Dan + Shay, James Taylor, H.E.R., Beck, Brandi Carlile, Burna Boy, Tiffany Haddish and Rachel Maddow also won Grammys.
Artists competing with Swift for album of the year include Coldplay, Post Malone, Dua Lipa, Jhene Aiko, HAIM, Black Pumas and Jacob Collier, who picked up a win during the pre-ceremony.