Even though the 66th Grammy Awards took place on Sunday during the biggest storm of the year, everything appeared to go according to plan. But as it happened, this was the primary problem.
There were hardly any errors, hiccups, or bleep-filled speeches during the live broadcast from Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles at the moment. Dua Lipa, SZA, and Travis Scott all had flawless performances. For the fourth time, Trevor Noah hosted, and he did a fantastic job emceeing, making the somewhat erratic comedian look pretty predictable. Taylor Swift won Album of the Year for the second time, as was expected.
It is illogical to blame the NFL or the Pentagon for Swift’s victory, even though some may claim that it was a conspiracy to break her record of most victories in that category, which she held with Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, and Paul Simon. The Recording Academy, which constantly puts pressure on performers and winners to surprise the public due to its predilection for the safe and familiar, is solely to blame for the 2024 Grammy Awards’ problems. Regretfully, producers didn’t have much luck doing it this year.
With the exception of a daring speech by Jay-Z and a moving performance—Joni Mitchell’s debut at the Grammys—the three-and-a-half-hour event went so well that it left one wishing for the wild Grammys of the past. Those events created history with their rambling speeches, ill-conceived production ideas, political shout-outs, and wildly chaotic yet passionate sets. Hip-hop, rock, or dance music’s finest moments, such as ODB and Kanye storming the stage or Lizzo taking a swig from a flask after losing Song of the Year to win Album of the Year later, epitomize the rebelliousness and impulsiveness that characterize the best of popular music. Sadly, despite the incredible talent on display on Sunday, this spontaneity was mainly lacking.
Beautiful highlights included Tracy Chapman’s performance of Fast Car with candidate Luke Combs and Billie Eilish’s What Was I Made For? from the movie Barbie, which won Song of the Year. Still, these weren’t enough to give the event a boost of excitement.
When Jay-Z accepted the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, he broke with tradition by criticizing the Recording Academy for continuously ignoring Black musicians. He underlined how difficult it has historically and now been for the Recording Academy to support Black and female musicians, noting that even Beyonc, who has won the most Grammys, has never taken home the Album of the Year award.
Even though there were an astoundingly high number of female nominees—many of whom were women of color—the ceremony fell short of capturing the vibrant vision of music’s future that these nominees’ various backgrounds offered. Rather, it frequently seemed as lifeless as Noah’s remarks about the Los Angeles climate or his plea to Dr. Dre for a prescription. A small amount of turmoil could have brought much-needed enthusiasm to the event—especially since even the host seems bored.
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