In 2024, music award reveals are outlined greater than something by what (and who) they’re lacking. Who acquired snubbed? Who ought to’ve carried out however didn’t? Who didn’t trouble exhibiting up in any respect? In a second the place panic in regards to the fading relevance and impression of so a lot of our previous cultural establishments is constantly palpable, these questions of absence are often what drives probably the most dialogue and engagement referring to reveals just like the— to the purpose the place they typically overwhelm no matter and whoever truly is there.
That’s what made it so conspicuous that the 2024 Grammys, which passed off in Los Angeles on Sunday night time (Feb. 4), felt so, nicely, full. The artists who’d outlined the earlier 12 months in music have been principally all current and accounted for: six of Billboard‘s prime seven picks for thehave been within the constructing, with Morgan Wallen (whose relationship with the Recording Academy stays understandably frayed) the lone holdout. The highest classes have been suspenseful, and the wins cathartic, sometimes historic. The performances have been a stunning combine of latest pace-setters and all-time legends. The vitality on the ground was buzzing — typically even a little bit too audibly through the quieter on-stage moments. It was the extraordinarily uncommon three-and-a-half-hour award present that felt… not essentially shorter than that, however not considerably longer both, an accomplishment in itself.
It was as profitable a Grammys in offering nearly all the things you could possibly need from the present that we’ve had in current reminiscence, very presumably one of many biggest Grammys within the telecast’s 54-year historical past. But it surely wasn’t fairly full, because the dearth of illustration from a style on the core of the present’s biggest points in recent times lingered uncomfortably at its heart — even being loudly and particularly known as out on stage by one of many defining figures within the style’s historical past.
In fact, this being an award present in 2024, the night time started and ended (in near-exact bookends) with Taylor Swift. The world-conquering pop star confirmed as much as her desk halfway via host Trevor Noah’s introductory remarks, mere seconds after his first point out of her, invoked like an awards-show genie. Swift wouldn’t be acting on the night, however as she proved on the MTV Video Music Awards and even the Golden Globes in current months — to not point out nevertheless many NFL Sundays — she was greater than able to dominating the night along with her mere presence, a relentless cutaway as she danced and sang alongside and palled round with fellow famous person (and designated bestie for the night) Lana Del Rey. And as with the final two VMAs, Swift additionally got here armed with a serious reveal: the April arrival of The Tortured Poets Division, follow-up album to 2022’s Midnights, which she introduced whereas accepting one of the best pop vocal album Grammy for the latter set — formally ending one album cycle by kicking off the following, simply in case you mistakenly thought she is perhaps placing her imperial section on pause for 2024.
And naturally, that wasn’t the final award of the night time for Taylor Swift or Midnights: It additionally emerged victorious within the closing class, for album of the 12 months. The win was a historic one for Swift, breaking her tie with Paul Simon, Stevie Surprise and Frank Sinatra and making her the lone recording artist in historical past with 4 album of the 12 months Ws. You possibly can argue about whether or not or not Midnights was undoubtedly probably the most deserving winner — in a loaded AOTY race, it was considered one of a number of believable candidates — however not about whether or not it made intrinsic sense that Swift ought to emerge the largest winner from Music’s Largest Evening, shortly after wrapping upof your entire twenty first century.
Maybe the final word testomony to the energy of the 2024 Grammys, nevertheless, was that even with Swift looming so giant on the night, the remainder of the ceremony didn’t really feel significantly caught in her shadow: Dozens of different winners, performers and attendees additionally made their presences memorably felt. Celebrity singer-songwriters Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish each added chapters to their rising Grammy legacies with robust performances, the latter even selecting up her second tune of the 12 months trophy and sixth (!!!) profession Large 4 win for “What Was I Made For?” Victoria Monét capped one of the vital satisfying breakout years in current pop historical past along with her finest new artist victory, true mainstream validation for a veteran pop songwriter who’d too lengthy been caught behind the scenes. And it was practically as rewarding to observe a unique type of overdue trade acceptance bestowed upon Miley Cyrus, who — 15 years after “Social gathering in the united statesA.” — lastly took dwelling the primary two Grammys of her good profession, finest pop solo efficiency and report of the 12 months for “Flowers.”
You might discover a standard theme amongst all of the artists talked about up to now, and it was one which continued all through the night: Grammy night time was, before everything, an evening of girls. Govt producer Ben Winstonto the Related Press that he’d raised the concept of an a “women’ night time” on the Grammys with an all-female roster of performers and rightly been shot down; such a heavy-handed setup would’ve felt wildly pointless when the ladies current have been clearly greater than able to controlling the night regardless. From Karol G turning into the primary lady winner of one of the best música urbana album award (for Mañana Será Bonito) to the long-absent Tracy Chapman reclaiming the highlight (and her signature tune) on her “Quick Automobile” duet with Luke Combs to Annie Lennox paying heart-stopping tribute to Sinéad O’Connor with an appropriately tearful rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” — to, sure, 4 totally different girls artists taking dwelling the Large 4 classes, for the second time in 4 years — girls throughout genres and generations have been centered all through. Probably the most hardened Grammys skeptic would nonetheless should admit gender fairness has come a great distance on the awards within the six years since
And even amongst all of the greatness on show on the Grammy stage on Sunday night time, together with long-overdue stage returns from Chapman and the 30-years-gone Billy Joel, particular point out merely have to be made from Joni Mitchell’s spellbinding rendition of “Each Sides Now.” Almost a decade after Mitchell’s well being state of affairs appeared dire sufficient for a lot of publications to begin writing pre-obituaries for the legendary singer-songwriter, to get any type of efficiency from her on the Grammy stage (the very first of her profession, unbelievably) would appear a small miracle. However to get a model of “Sides” — a tune that has soundtracked and outlined numerous life-changing moments amongst listeners for 55 years now — audibly imbued with the total weight of Mitchell’s personal 80 years of expertise and her deepened, weathered, however nonetheless singular voice, was a second as indelible because the Grammys has produced. You possibly can see it within the cutaways to the oldsters (once more, largely girls) in attendance, maybe finest within the fighting-back-tears shot of performing GOAT Meryl Streep and daughter Grace Gummer, little question reflecting the reactions of hundreds of mother-daughter viewer pairs watching from dwelling. It was as profoundly uncooked and delightful a living-legend showcase because the present might’ve hoped for, and can undoubtedly go down as an all-time efficiency in award present historical past.
However as a lot progress because the Grammys has clearly made in recent times in relation to the illustration of girls, it continues to come back up brief in doing the identical for Black music. Monét’s finest new artist win saved the Grammys from the nightmare state of affairs of an all-white Large 4, however SZA was arguably the individuals’s-champ choose within the prime classes this 12 months — significantly for album of the 12 months nominee SOS, which topped the Billboard 200 for 10 weeks and was solely held from topping just about each 2023 year-end critics’ record by the truth that it technically bowed on the finish of 2022. No disgrace in dropping to Taylor Swift in 2024, in fact, however with echoes ofthat befell Beyoncé and Renaissance ultimately 12 months’s awards (to a dominant-but-not-Swift-dominant Harry Kinds and Harry’s Home), complaints of it seemingly by no means being sure Black artists’ flip would hardly appear unfounded.
The viewers acquired a selected reminder of Bey’s profession snubbing within the basic classes — she’s nonetheless by no means received album of the 12 months, regardless of being the preeminent pop and R&B albums artist of her technology — from her personal husband, rap god Jay-Z, throughout his acceptance speech for the Dr. Dre International Affect Award. Along with memorably airing grievances on his spouse’s behalf, Jay additionally voiced the longtime and persevering with frustrations for hip-hop’s perpetually poor exhibiting on the awards, courting again to the primary finest rap efficiency award in 1989, which a number of nominees (together with winners DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Recent Prince) boycotted because of the award not being televised on the published. He admitted that he and different rappers — even those that boycotted again in ’89, solely to observe the awards from their resort — nonetheless care in regards to the Grammys: “We love y’all and we would like y’all to get it proper… No less than get it near proper.”
Sadly, we didn’t get to see what Jay considered this 12 months’s hip-hop winners, as a result of the Grammys determined to not air any of the rap awards — Killer Mike, a beloved and recognizable determine in hip-hop however not a real crossover star, received in three out of the 4 — and rap performed a minimal half at finest within the basic classes. (SZA’s possibilities might have even been harm by; the Recording Academy has traditionally most well-liked to reward R&B artists who’re extra retro-minded.) The irony, given Jay’s ’89-invoking speech, was definitely not misplaced on many viewers. It’s simple to level to much-discussed downward trending in hip-hop’s preeminence and the relative dearth of apparent four-quadrant rap releases on the calendar final 12 months and say it was comprehensible for the Grammys to present hip-hop brief shrift this 12 months, however even in a down 12 months, the style stays by a large margin. To see the Grammys’ relationship with hip-hop solely getting extra fraught in 2024 is regarding.
And whereas hip-hop was additionally under-represented within the performances — a pissed off Travis Scott Utopia mini-medley that felt a bit like an afterthought, significantly following Mitchell’s showstopper, was rap’s main consultant for the night time — it wasn’t the one important 2024 style to be missing on stage. Not getting a single Spanish-language efficiency in such a large 12 months for Latin pop, reggaetón and música Mexicana was inexplicable, and the awards’ persevering with lack of curiosity in (non-BTS) Okay-pop additionally stays disappointing. The truth is, non-English-language pop music of any variety was unusually lacking from the telecast, with Afrobeats star Burna Boy’s multi-song efficiency serving because the lone indication of pop’s speedy globalization of the 2020s.
However even with these apparent blemishes, there’s no denying that the 66th Annual Grammys was probably the most very important the awards have felt in a while. The performances have been blessedly missing within the type of third-hour filler which have dragged the published down in recent times, as an alternative showcasing pop’s present finest and brightest, together with some true icons of the previous. Even when controversial, not one of the wins have been outright perplexing, uniformly rewarding artists and works that actually felt essential to the previous 12 months. And, nicely, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé have been each there — a great begin to any occasion’s case for being must-watch, center-of-the-culture fare proper now. We’ll keep in mind this 12 months’s Grammys far more for what they have been than what they weren’t. And that’s nearer to getting it proper than the nice majority of award reveals can declare in 2024.