The authors of “I Can’t Breathe” by R&B artist HER won this year’s Grammy song on Sunday in a stripped-down ceremony aimed at bypassing the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the music industry.
This year’s song award recognizes writers rather than artists and was written to mark the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States last summer.
“The battle we had in us, in the summer of 2020, retains the same energy,” HER said as she accepted the award.
Britain’s Harry Styles won the pop solo performance category for “Watermelon Sugar” – his first ever Grammy – and defeated Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish and Justin Bieber.
Rapper Megan Thee Stallion was named best new artist and the 26-year-old who is known for promoting women’s empowerment also won for her rap performance of the single “Savage”, with Beyonce.
Later, she took the stage with Cardi B for a performance of their awesome summer hit single “WAP”.
Styles, dressed in a feather boa over a bare breast, and Eilish, with her brand of green hair, started the socially distant ceremony and played in a room empty except for a handful of her peers.
Hosted by Trevor Noah, the hybrid ceremony was packed with pre-recorded and live performances by the likes of Lipa, Swift, DaBaby, Black Pumas and Mickey Guyton.
It took place both indoors and outdoors in downtown Los Angeles but mostly without the detailed sets and special effects that traditionally mark the highest awards in the music industry.
“We hope this is about what 2021 can be, full of joy, new beginnings and coming together. Never forget what happened in 2020, but full of hope for what is to come,” said Noah.
Live music, tours and festivals were crushed by the pandemic in 2020, but some of Sunday’s awards were announced in small places in cities like Nashville.
“Thanks to the Grammys for putting this together and at least letting us be together,” says Miranda Lambert, winner of best country album for “Wildcard”.
Earlier on Sunday, BTS lost in the best pop duo or group performance against Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande for the single “Rain on Me”.
The seven members from South Korea had hoped to become the first K-Pop act to win a Grammy after a breakthrough in the United States for the genre. They will perform their hit English-language single “Dynamite” from South Korea later on the show.
The best prices – this year’s album and record – are expected to be announced towards the end of the three- and 1/2-hour broadcast.
Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” and Swift’s surprising lockdown album “Folklore” are seen as the main contenders for this year’s album.
Kanye West won the Grammy for her gospel album “Jesus is King”, while Beyonce also won best music video for “Brown Skin Girl”, which she shared with her nine-year-old daughter Blue Ivy. Eilish, 19, who dominated last year’s Grammys, won for his theme song for the upcoming James Bond movie “No Time to Die.”
The winners are chosen by approximately 11,000 voting members of the recording academy.