63rd Annual Grammy Awards rises to the challenge

HAIM performing at the Grammys (Photo @recordingacademy on Instagram)

The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards was very different compared to previous years and it wasn’t just because of new safety protocols. This year’s show featured a new host: Trevor Noah. It was organized by a new President and Chief Executive Officer of The Recording Academy: Harvey Mason Jr. And unlike previous years, the vast majority of the audience was nominees.

In order to adhere to COVID-19 regulations, all attendees wore masks at all times unless performing or receiving an award. In addition, the audience was spaced out at socially-distanced tables in the outdoor awards room and live performances took place in another room where there were multiple socially-distanced stages. The awards show did a great job of keeping the audience safe while still trying to maintain some elements of normalcy. 

Many people were eager to see how this year’s Grammy Awards would turn out, being that past Grammys have been controversial. Many have spoken out against the committee for racism, sexism, favoritism, and for awarding undeserving candidates while snubbing others. 

For the most part, this year was different. Some of the choices for award recipients were disputed by viewers; however, disputes in moderation are inevitable with so many different opinions among avid music listeners. 

Regarding the alleged sexism and racism of past shows, this year’s show was committed to having more diverse representation. Multiple times in the past, people believed that the Grammys made a number of their choices based solely on the sex or race of the nominees, but so far, none of these accusations have been making headlines. The show also confronted racial issues head-on with music performances addressing racial injustice by artists such as DaBaby and Lil Baby.

This year’s show also tried its best to assist live-music-related businesses that have been struggling with the pandemic. Multiple times throughout the show, there were short segments showing the experiences of long-running clubs and theatres during the pandemic, and the business owners even presented some of the awards. 

The Grammys also tried to diversify the awards show by having an eclectic group of performers: from the up-beat opening performance of Harry Styles’s “Watermelon Sugar” to the rock performance by the all-sisters band HAIM. In addition, the Grammys featured up-and-coming rap artists such as Megan Thee Stallion and Bad Bunny and showcased country music with performances by Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris. The wide range of performances were all unique and entertaining in their own way. It was never disappointing when another acclaimed musician appeared on the screen, whether it was Taylor Swift or the South Korean boy band BTS. 

However, it wasn’t only the variety of performances that made the Grammys an entertaining award show. The use of visual effects made every performance interesting. Because the show was targeted toward a virtual audience, even more so because of the lack of a large live audience, every performance was accompanied by either a beautiful set or digital background, and it was mesmerizing. We were entranced by Taylor Swift’s fairytale-like cottage background and moved by the scene of police brutality and Black Lives Matter protests to which Lil Baby performed in front of. 

Given the restrictions of COVID-19 and the controversy surrounding the show, the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards tried its best to be successful. It was an entertaining and celebratory evening that recognized the importance of music in our lives, especially during the ongoing pandemic. While in the future we hope that the awards show can return to a large-gathering of talented musicians that continue to make progress in combating racism and sexism, overall, the 2021 Grammy Awards was a success.

Harry Styles performing at the Grammys (Photo @recordingacademy on Instagram)