Welcome to the Olympics of music! The 63rd Grammy Awards are not the be-all, end-all of music achievement, or even an accurate representation of the most adventurous, unique music being made today, but they’re the standard barometer of commercial success. The two awards ceremonies that make up the Grammys usually do find some terrific artists to acknowledge, and some of the performances are amazing.
This year’s ceremony will be different, like all awards shows over the last 12 months. Originally scheduled for Jan. 31, the event got postponed because of the pandemic. The 84 awards presentations today will also be broadcasted not from the Staples Center and Nokia Theatre but the Los Angeles Convention Center. The performances will be spread out throughout Los Angeles. Today’s main televised show is hosted by Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show.” There will not be any live guests.
If you’re watching along, keep an eye out for employees of shuttered music venues, who will be presenting the majority of the awards today, according to the Recording Academy.
How to watch: Pre-cast ceremony with music performances and 74 awards presented: 12 p.m. at Grammy.com. Broadcast ceremony: 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on CBS and CBS apps.
I (Mike DeWald) will be providing live updates alongside reporter Amelia Parreira and editor Roman Gokhman.
8:40 p.m.: Alas! We’re here! Record of the Year: “Everything I Wanted” – Billie Eillish. Eilish uses her time to honor Megan Thee Stallion, says she was going to write a speech dedicating the award to her but scrapped it because she didn’t think she’d actually win. She thanks her brother, producer Finneas, as well. And that’s the our show! The favorite appeared to be Beyonce, so this counts as an upset as far as we’re concerned. Thanks for playing along everyone!
8:37 p.m.: Commercials!!
8:30 p.m.: More performances! Now it’s Roddy Ricch, behind a piano for the melodic rap track “Heartless.” He hops up from the piano to perform next to the remains of a broken statue.
8:25 p.m.: BTS are up next, performing “Dynamite” in another performance heavy on visuals, and multiple sets and backdrops. They take to the roof, performing with the Seoul (surprise!) skyline filling out the backdrop. Not being able to travel to the US, the band recreated the Grammy set at home for its performance.
8:20 p.m.: Harvey Mason, Jr., interim president and CEO of the Recording Academyoffers up a produced tribute of the music honored tonight. Mason speaks to the new diversity and transparency of the awards and a call for unity within the industry to reinvent the Recording Academy. Mason admits he originally joined the Recording Academy so he could vote for himself!
8:10 p.m.: Album of the Year: folklore – Taylor Swift (Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner, Taylor Swift, producers. Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner, Serban Ghenea, John Hanes, Jonathan Low, Laura Sisk, engineers/mixers. Aaron Dessner & Taylor Swift, songwriters, Randy Merrill, mastering engineer.). Swift is the first woman to win album of the year three times. Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, and Paul Simon are some of the male performers who have won three in the past. A fitting win for an album that truly summed up the quarantined world of the pandemic.
8:09 p.m.: Commercials….
8:02 p.m.: Doja Cat arrives for a futuristic performance of “Say So,” filled with laser lights and robotic back-up dancer. She’s an electric performer who can effectively mix the moves, the voice, and the performance.
7:56 p.m.: Best R&B Performance: “Black Parade” Beyoncé. And there we have it..a new record for Grammy wins, surpassing Allison Krauss, with 28.
7:47 p.m.: Out on the street, Lil Baby performs “The Bigger Picture.” It’s the most visual performance-art style of the evening. The performance was dramatic and moving commentary on police violence and the state of America, with Baby jumping on top of a police cruiser as fireworks fill the backdrop. The movie-style performance featured cameos from Killer Mike and activist Tamika Mallory as well as a voiceover from James Baldwin.
7:45 p.m.: Best Pop Vocal Album: Dua Lipa “Future Nostalgia.” A deserving win for an artist who took the greatest of risks releasing an upbeat, pop spectacle during one of the most uncertain times of the pandemic.
7:31 p.m.: Back to the performances, now it’s time for Post Malone. He performs a dark rendition of “Hollywood’s Bleeding.” A lot of performers mixing in choirs today, this one feels a little more post-apocalyptic.
7:24 p.m.: Best Rap Song: “Savage” Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyonce (Beyonce, Shawn Carter, Brittany Hazzard, Derrick Milano, Terius Nash, Megan Pete, Bobby Session Jr., Jordan Kyle Lanier Thorpe, and Anthony White, songwriters). She becomes the first female rapper to win the category. More history! Beyonce also tied the record for the most Grammy wins by any artist in history at 27! She ties Allison Krauss for the most.
7:16 p.m.: Alas! As expected Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion join forces for “WAP,” modified for TV audiences of course. The performance was very much a sensory fever dream, the lights and sounds and staging was just about as much as the venue allows for. The two stars came together on a massive oversized bed to close out the song. I think Trevor Noah after the performance is all of us.
7:15 p.m.: Cardi B joins the party to perform “Up,” the stage design one of the biggest of the night…I think we know where this is going.
7:09 p.m.: Megan Thee Stallion has arrived, she opens with “Savage,” with a little bit of big band edge, with some tap dancing(!) mixed in.
6:59 p.m.: Song of the Year: “I Can’t Breathe” H.E.R. Really heartfelt speech from the Vallejo-born artist. Have to consider this another surprise, she beat out some absolutely massive artists.
6:58 p.m.: Best Latin Pop or Urban Album: Bad Bunny, YHLQMDLG
6:57 p.m.: The ‘awards given earlier’ portion of show is also my first lesson that “Best Melodic Rap” is a category. (Anderson .Paak wins)
6:48 p.m.: The country medley continues with Maren Morris, with some help from John Mayer on vocals and guitar on “The Bones.” Morris turns in a solid performance and Mayer gets a quick moment to solo, well done.
6:45 p.m.: Tough act follow, but Miranda turns in a solid performance of “Bluebird.” Have to admit, it’s easy to be snarky about the Grammys but this year’s production is just really…good. I’m sure some will miss the big sets and fancy lights, but the focus on performance is refreshing.
6:42 p.m.: Now up, Mickey Guyton, she’s the first Black female solo artist to be nominated in a Country category. What a phenomenal performance of her song “Black Like Me,” she turns over the mic to Miranda Lambert.
6:35 p.m.: Brittany Howard and Chris Martin now teaming up for an absolutely spell-binding performance. Also, we lost an insane amount of people this year. Yikes.
6:31 p.m.: Brandi Carlile now honoring the late John Prine, and it’s every bit as good as you’d expect.
6:27 p.m.: Eddie Van Halen gets a quick tribute, now it’s Lionel Richie honoring Kenny Rogers. It’s nice.
6:25 p.m.: This year’s in memoriam certainly carrying a bit more weight than a typical year. Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars are back to honor Little Richard. These guys are officially the greatest house band in history, keep bringing them back again and again.
6:24 p.m.: Best Pop Solo Performance: “Watermelon Sugar” Harry Styles (I’m calling this one an upset)
6:08 p.m.: It’s Taylor Time! With Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner. Taylor Swift is performing “Cardigan” laying on a wooded rooftop with Dessner and Antonoff inside an A-frame house. Swift joins them for “August” and “Willow.” It’s a change of pace and Swift’s vocals are on point, solid performance.
6:05 p.m.: Best Country Album: Miranda Lambert “Wildcard”
6:05 p.m.: What a cool touch, allowing venue owners of small venues across the country to present some of the evening’s awards.
5:59 p.m.: Now up it’s Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars performing as Silk Sonic, fully realizing the evening’s American Bandstand-style. As expected the vocals are clean and the performance is slick.
5:50 p.m.: Next up, it’s the queen of coronavirus-era dance pop anthems, Dua Lipa! Dua’s here in a massive pink robe for “Levitating” with some help from DaBaby, felt like that might happen given their placement in the show. The more intimate format doesn’t allow Dua the pop spectacle we otherwise have been treated to, but the performance is still a ton of fun. Ends with a mash up of “Don’t Stop Now” and “Future Nostalgia.” I for one welcome our new pop overlord, Dua Lipa.
5:45 p.m.: Up next it’s Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez with “Dakati” The stage design gives The Weeknd-at-the -Super Bowl vibes, but yet another strong performance. The stage sets seem to be getting little more involved as the night goes on.
5:40 p.m.: DaBaby is up next for “Rock Star,” flanked by what seems to be a handful of Supreme Court justices providing backing vocals. Yet another great performance, high-drama. Every performer so far seems to be using live-vocals, which is always a welcome addition.
5:36 p.m.: This year’s Grammys will probably catch some heat for the weird format, but gotta say I kinda like it. It’s embracing the times we live in without trying to recreate a Before Times award show production. It’s informal, a little awkward, and all fun.
5:28 p.m.: More performances! This time it’s Black Pumas performing “Colors.” Might be the best performance so far. Also, why do all the initial performers have to stick around and watch? Does Danielle Haim have to stay at the drums the whole show?
5:26 p.m.: “These nominee’s songs have been streamed billions of times…making them about $5 or $6.” Trevor Noah coming in hot.
5:15 p.m.: (Can Lizzo just present all the awards?) Best New Artist: Megan Thee Stallion. The Houston rapper became the fifth rap act to win Best New Artist. Really wonderful acceptance speech…even with the traffic in the background.
5:13 p.m.: Need a break? Too bad, time for another performance, this time it’s from the HAIM sisters with “The Steps.” Eillish and Styles look on from their respective stages as though one of the performers will be voted off the island after the performance. Anyway, HAIM are great.
5:10 p.m.: The rapid-fire pace continues with Billie Eilish performing “everything I wanted” on top of a car submerged into the stage. It’s dark and moody…the only light coming from a blinking turn single on the car.
5:07 p.m.: Opening performance slot goes to Harry Styles to perform “Watermelon Sugar.” Styles is slick, this year’s show feels like Top of the Pops. Noah proceeds to roast him as soon as the song ends while he’s still on stage. This year’s format is weird and I approve.
5:05 p.m.: Noah does a walk-and-talk inside the venue to this year’s in-the-round format. It’s unusual, and bit awkward, but in a weird way…it works! Seems rather than big productions each performance will be heavy on, well, performance.
5 p.m.: We’ve live and direct! Trevor Noah takes the mic to open the show, deliver rapid fire Covid-heavy material. Noah quips that the outdoor tent used for the awards will be used for a wedding the next day.
2 p.m.: Best Rock Performance: SHAMEIKA – Fiona Apple
Best Metal Performance: BUM-RUSH – Body Count
Best Rock Song: STAY HIGH – Brittany Howard, songwriter (Brittany Howard)
Best Rock Album: THE NEW ABNORMAL – The Strokes. “It’s cutting out… did we win? Who won? It’s cutting out!”
Best Country Solo Performance: WHEN MY AMY PRAYS – Vince Gill
Best Country Duo/Group Performance: 10,000 HOURS – Dan + Shay & Justin Bieber
Best Country Song: CROWDED TABLE – Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby & Lori McKenna, songwriters (The Highwomen)
Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical: ANDREW WATT
Burna Boy is the final performer of the pre-cast ceremony. His performance has full music video quality.
1:50 p.m.: Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: RAIN ON ME – Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: AMERICAN STANDARD – James Taylor
Best Rap Performance: SAVAGE – Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé. Megan Thee Stallion is legit excited to win an award during this precast ceremony and it’s downright refreshing. Most of the major category artists are no-shows.
Best Rap Album: KING’S DISEASE – Nas
Poppy is now performing. She’s the first woman nominated in the metal category, Jhené Aiko points out.
1:40 p.m.: Best Traditional R&B Performance: ANYTHING FOR YOU- Ledisi. The Bay Area’s Ledisi os popping champagne while reading her speech frothier phone.
Best R&B Song: BETTER THAN I IMAGINED – Robert Glasper, Meshell Ndegeocello & Gabriella Wilson, songwriters (Robert Glasper Featuring H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello).
Best Progressive R&B Album: IT IS WHAT IT IS – Thundercat. Thundercat appears with his mom and his daughter. This is really interesting, getting to see so many artists’s studios, offices and living rooms. —Roman Gokhman
Best R&B Album: BIGGER LOVE – John Legend
Rufus Wainwright now performing with the Los Angeles skyline behind him…. this must have been recorded last night? Or this morning? Because there’s some great sun action behind him and it’s still clearly daylight in California.
1:30 p.m.: Best Improvised Jazz Solo: ALL BLUES – Chick Corea, soloist – Track from: Trilogy 2 (Chick Corea, Christian McBride & Brian Blade). His widow is speaking about his life now. Corea died just recently, but this win was never unexpected. She also thanked Scientology cult leader L. Ron Hubbard, so…
Best Jazz Vocal Album: SECRETS ARE THE BEST STORIES – Kurt Elling Featuring Danilo Pérez
Best Jazz Instrumental Album: TRILOGY 2 – Chick Corea, Christian McBride & Brian Blade. Corea again, and this time friend of RIFF, Brian Blade.
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album: DATA LORDS – Maria Schneider Orchestra
Best Latin Jazz Album: FOUR QUESTIONS – Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
1:20 p.m.: Best Children’s Music Album: ALL THE LADIES – Joanie Leeds
Best Spoken Word Album: BLOWOUT: CORRUPTED DEMOCRACY, ROGUE STATE RUSSIA, AND THE RICHEST, MOST DESTRUCTIVE INDUSTRY ON EARTH – Rachel Maddow
Best Comedy Album: BLACK MITZVAH – Tiffany Haddish
Best Musical Theater Album: JAGGED LITTLE PILL – Kathryn Gallagher, Celia Rose Gooding, Lauren Patten & Elizabeth Stanley, principal soloists; Neal Avron, Pete Ganbarg, Tom Kitt, Michael Parker, Craig Rosen & Vivek J. Tiwary, producers (Glen Ballard, composer; Alanis Morissette, composer & lyricist) (Original Broadway Cast)
Best Alternative Music Album: FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS – Fiona Apple (again, of course).
Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science now performing.
1:07 p.m.: Best American Roots Performance: I REMEMBER EVERYTHING – John Prine. This is Prine’s last recorded song, and it’s well-deserved. His wife is speaking via video now, surrounded by their sons.
Best American Roots Song: I REMEMBER EVERYTHING – Pat McLaughlin & John Prine, songwriters (John Prine). His sons get to talk now.
Best Americana Album: WORLD ON THE GROUND – Sarah Jarosz. This is the only one of these albums that RIFF did NOT review.
Best Bluegrass Album: HOME – Billy Strings.
Best Traditional Blues Album: RAWER THAN RAW – Bobby Rush
Best Contemporary Blues Album: HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND YET? – Fantastic Negrito. Of course it is! “I want to give a moment of silence to the half-million people who have perished in this country.” He also thanks Tank of Tank and the Bangas and E40, among many others.
Best Folk Album: ALL THE GOOD TIMES – Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
Best Regional Roots Music Album: ATMOSPHERE – New Orleans Nightcrawlers
Best Global Music Album: TWICE AS TALL – Burna Boy
1 p.m.: Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media: JOJO RABBIT – (Various Artists) – Taika Waititi, compilation producer. Waititi: “I guess they’re giving Grammys now to everyone. I’ll take it!”
Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media: JOKER, Hildur Guðnadóttir, composer
Best Song Written For Visual Media: NO TIME TO DIE [FROM NO TIME TO DIE] – Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas Baird O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish). Eilish and Finneas both appear on video and seem really excited about winning the first one of the day for her.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes now perming some blues.
12:50 p.m.: Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album: LA CONQUISTA DEL ESPACIO – Fito Paez
Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano): UN CANTO POR MÉXICO, VOL. 1 – Natalia Lafourcade
Best Tropical Latin Album: 40 – Grupo Niche
Bill Burr was not a good fit for these awards. He’s butchering every single name. —Roman Gokhman
Best Orchestral Performance: IVES: COMPLETE SYMPHONIES – Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
Best Opera Recording: GERSHWIN: PORGY AND BESS — David Robertson, conductor; Frederick Ballentine, Angel Blue, Denyce Graves, Latonia Moore & Eric Owens; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
Best Choral Performance: DANIELPOUR: THE PASSION OF YESHUAH – JoAnn Falletta, conductor; James K. Bass & Adam Luebke, chorus masters (James K. Bass, J’Nai Bridges, Timothy Fallon, Kenneth Overton, Hila Plitmann & Matthew Worth; Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus & UCLA Chamber Singers)
Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance: CONTEMPORARY VOICES – Pacifica Quartet
Best Classical Instrumental Solo: THEOFANIDIS: CONCERTO FOR VIOLA AND CHAMBER ORCHESTRA – Richard O’Neill; David Alan Miller, conductor (Albany Symphony)
Best Classical Solo Vocal Album: SMYTH: THE PRISON – Sarah Brailey & Dashon Burton; James Blachly, conductor (Experiential Chorus; Experiential Orchestra)
Best Classical Compendium: THOMAS, M.T.: FROM THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK & MEDITATIONS ON RILKE – Isabel Leonard; Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor; Jack Vad, producer. San Francisco Symphony’s Michael Tilson Thomas wins another Grammy Award! —Roman Gokhman
Best Contemporary Classical Composition: ROUSE: SYMPHONY NO. 5 – Christopher Rouse, composer (Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)
12:40 p.m.: Producer Of The Year, Classical: David Frost
Pianist Igor Levit now performing “Moonlight Sonata” from Germany, and I’m thankful that my hands get a break because these awards have been coming fast and furious. Much faster without this ceremony being in person, where there was time for the winners to walk onto the stage. This version is very pretty, and Levit is performing surrounded by a forest of blue LED lights. —Roman Gokhman
Now comedian Bill Burr is up being funny: “Did anyone else wanna kill themselves during that piano solo?”
12:30 p.m.: Best Recording Package: VOLS. 11 & 12 – Doug Cunningham & Jason Noto, art directors (Desert Sessions)
Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package: ODE TO JOY – Lawrence Azerrad & Jeff Tweedy, art directors (Wilco)
Best Album Notes: DEAD MAN’S POP – Bob Mehr, album notes writer (The Replacements)
Best Historical Album: IT’S SUCH A GOOD FEELING: THE BEST OF MISTER ROGERS – Lee Lodyga & Cheryl Pawelski, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineer (Mister Rogers)
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical: HYPERSPACE – Drew Brown, Julian Burg, Andrew Coleman, Paul Epworth, Shawn Everett, Serban Ghenea, David Greenbaum, John Hanes, Beck Hansen, Jaycen Joshua, Greg Kurstin, Mike Larson, Cole M.G.N., Alex Pasco & Matt Wiggins, engineers; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer (Beck).
Best Remixed Recording: ROSES (IMANBEK REMIX) – Imanbek Zeikenov, remixer (SAINt JHN)
Best Engineered Album, Classical: SHOSTAKOVICH: SYMPHONY NO. 13, ‘BABI YAR’ – David Frost & Charlie Post, engineers; Silas Brown, mastering engineer (Riccardo Muti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
12:25 p.m.: Best New Age Album: Jim “Kimo” West, More Guitar Stories
Best Gospel Performance/Song: MOVIN’ ON — Jonathan McReynolds & Mali Music; Darryl L. Howell, Jonathan Caleb McReynolds, Kortney Jamaal Pollard & Terrell Demetrius Wilson, songwriters
Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song: THERE WAS JESUS – Zach Williams & Dolly Parton; Casey Beathard, Jonathan Smith & Zach Williams, songwriters
Best Gospel Album: GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PJ – PJ Morton
Best Contemporary Christian Music Album: JESUS IS KING – Kanye West. This is a joke, right? —Roman Gokhman
Best Roots Gospel Album: CELEBRATING FISK! (THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY ALBUM) – Fisk Jubilee Singers
12:20 p.m.: Lido Pimienta now performing in a very colorful costume, with a very Wes-Anderson-esque background. The production of this is interesting. The Grammys should consider highlighting foreign-language performances when more people are watching. —Roman Gokhman
12:15 p.m.: Best Music Video: BROWN SKIN GIRL – Beyoncé, Blue Ivy & WizKid. The first win of the night for Beyoncé and the first for Blue Ivy Carter, making her the second youngest to win a Grammy, ever, at 9 years old. Leah Peasall was 8 when The Peasall Sisters won album of the year at the 2002 show for their appearance on the T-Bone-Burnett-produced “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack.
Best Music Film: “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice”
12:10 p.m.: Best Dance Recording: 10% – Kaytranada featuring Kali Uchis
Best Dance/Electronic Album: BUBBA – Kaytranada
Best Contemporary Instrumental Album: I’VE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL – Snarky Puppy
Best Instrumental Composition: SPUTNIK – Maria Schneider
Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella: DONNA LEE – John Beasley
Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals: HE WON’T HOLD YOU – Jacob Collier
12:07 p.m.: Host Jhené Aiko making her first appearance. About 350 nominees appear behind her via video.
12:03 p.m.: First performance is a Zoom-style recording of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)” by 20 nominees in the gospel, global, instrumental, arrangement and other categories. Grace Potter and Kamasi Washington among those making appearances.
12 p.m.: Harvey Mason, Jr., interim president and CEO of the Recording Academy, welcomes viewers. “Your art awakened our consciousness,” he says to the nominees. “I’m certain better days lie ahead.”