It was one of the most memorable Grammys in years. Clearly, organisers felt they had to make up for the deflating 2023 ceremony, where Harry Styles skipped away with Album of the Year after we were promised a rematch between Adele and Beyonce.
They managed it, and then some: this truly was the Year of the Women. After a glittering run on the red carpet, where many nominees appeared to turn up dressed as Grammy Awards (a lot of bronze and gold this year), the ceremony opened with a spectacular medley of hits from British pop star Dua Lipa. By this point, the pre-telecast show had already seen early prizes handed out to indie supergroup Boygenius, Billie Eilish and Kylie Minogue.
Trevor Noah, hosting for the fourth consecutive year, proved himself an ally. He defended Taylor Swift from grouchy NFL fans by flipping the joke and threatening to put the camera on retired American football fans. Swift, who famously sent a wintery glare in comedian Jo Koy’s direction when he dared to make a joke at her expense at the Golden Globes, seemed delighted by Noah by comparison.
From there, the women just kept on winning. Relative newcomers mingled with legends – Tracy Chapman was masterful in her duet of “Fast Car” with country singer Luke Combs – while R&B artist Victoria Monét, who had never won a Grammy until tonight, went home with six statuettes. Accepting the trophy for Best R&B Song, SZA ran onto the stage and hugged presenter Lizzo, whom she said she had been friends with since they were playing small rooms together in 2019.
"I’m just really overwhelmed, you don’t really understand I came really really far and I can’t believe this is happening and it feels really fake… hi Taylor, I love you," SZA said, waving to the pop megastar as she cheered from the audience.
Eilish, a favourite of the Recording Academy, still looked overwhelmed as she was announced as the winner of Song of the Year, for her contribution to Greta Gerwig’s Barbie soundtrack, “What Was I Made For?”
“I was in a really dark place, really, really dark place and it’s kind of hard to think back to it,” she told reporters in the winners room after the ceremony. “But Greta (Gerwig) came to us, she offered us this life-changing thing...we wrote that song in the 24 hours after we saw the movie, and we wrote it under two hours, if not one hour.
“Honestly, from then on we were just creative again, it woke us up and got us back on our thing and it was really special and powerful and I hold it deep, deep and dear to my heart.”
Eilish also said she felt “seen and heard” after releasing the track What Was I Made For?.
“When we made it I didn’t know how much this is going to translate,” she explained. “I felt kind of outside the box. I felt isolated in my own world and I really was in a period of my life where I did not feel seen at all. The way people reacted when it came out. I was completely blown away by the way I felt understood and this (the Grammy) just goes even farther than that.”
Swift, who spent most of the evening cheering and dancing to music by other artists, arrived onstage to collect her 13th Grammy (for Best Pop Vocal Performance) and promptly announced a brand new album, titled The Tortured Poets Department.
Artists who have suffered from periods of ill health made displays of defiance by their mere presence: Joni Mitchell, who suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015 and has had to learn how to walk again three times, brought fans to tears with her debut Grammys performance, aged 80.
Celine Dion, meanwhile, looked delighted to be back on music’s biggest stage, after being forced to cancel all live performances in recent years while she dealt with Stiff person Syndrome. Swift looked stunned as Dion announced her as the winner of Album of the Year – meaning the 34-year-old is the first person in Grammys history to win the prize four times.
Perhaps Phoebe Bridgers summed it up best when she arrived in the media room with her bandmates, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. Disgraced Grammy Awards CEO Neil Portnow could “rot in piss”, she said, seemingly referring to Portnow’s notorious claim in 2018 that women needed to “step up” if they wanted to be recognised by the Recording Academy. For once, the Grammys seemed to do everything right.