Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Highs and lows of the 63rd Annual Grammy awards

All the best and worst moments of music’s biggest night
(Courtesy of Taylor Swift’s official Facebook page)

High: Harry Styles opens and snags first Grammy win

Styles has been one of the most talked about celebrities in recent years, so it came as no surprise when he was chosen to open the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. His performance of “Watermelon Sugar” was saturated in charisma, with his smooth vocals and retro-inspired outfit. Throughout the performance it was clear that Styles possess a timeless quality that few artists today can achieve. Later, he took home the well-deserved award for Best Pop Solo Performance, his first Grammy win.

Low: Silk Sonic’s attempt at 70s nostalgia

While the duo, composed of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, nailed the visual aesthetic of the 70s, with their burnt orange suits and rhinestone-studded sunglasses, they left much to be desired where the music is concerned. Their debut single “Leave The Door Open” sounds like a confused mashup of the Bee Gees and Earth, Wind, and Fire with all the cliche elements of disco and funk thrown in. In theory, Mars’ impressive vocals should’ve made this a performance to remember, but instead there was just so much going on that it felt unpolished.

High: Black Pumas’ soulful Grammy debut

Where Silk Sonic faltered, Black Pumas surpassed all expectations. The band seemingly came out of nowhere, despite scoring a Best New Artist nomination in 2019, and delivered a soulful, captivating performance. Their retro sound, drawing clear inspiration from 60s rock, is pure nostalgia without any gaudiness. Black Pumas is definitely a group that we’ll be hearing more from.

Low: “Rain On Me” wins Pop Duo/Group Performance of the Year

Lady Gaga’s biggest hit of the year, “Rain On Me” featuring Ariana Grande, was named Pop Duo/Group Performance of the Year. Although the catchy pop-anthem was a radio success, BTS’ “Dynamite” enjoyed similar popularity with a more original sound. Where “Rain On Me” is derivative of Gaga’s previous work and builds on well-established pop hallmarks, “Dynamite” represents a new chapter for pop music. Although they may have been snubbed in this category, BTS delighted with a highly polished, charming performance later in the night.

High: Taylor Swift’s whimsical medley

After a five-year hiatus from the Grammy stage, Swift returned with a Midsummer Night’s Dream meets Disney princess aesthetic. Her decision to perform a medley of songs from both “folklore” and “evermore” showed off the versatility of her lyricism and the cohesive sound that the two albums achieve. In a tiny candle-lit cabin and accompanied by her collaborators, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, Swift’s performance felt like a window into another universe. Not only was Swift’s musical prowess on full display, but also her authenticity and incredible artistic vision.

Low: Phoebe Bridgers is snubbed across the board

Bridgers’ nominations alone, in four separate categories, are undoubtedly a huge achievement for the young singer-songwriter. However, her failure to take home any awards was a disappointment to many. While Fiona Apple, Megan Thee Stallion and Brittany Howard are all fantastic artists in their own right, Bridger’s “Punisher” was one of the most emotionally vulnerable and skillfully produced albums of the year. Despite being snubbed this year, it’s safe to say that if she continues down her current path this won’t be Bridgers’ last foray at the Grammys.

High: Dua Lipa’s stellar performance and huge win

Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” is already taking on landmark status in the pop world. The combination of disco, glam and bubblegum pop earned her Pop Vocal Album of the Year, as well as five other nominations. Her glitzy, fast-paced performance of “Levitating” and “Don’t Start Now” was both glamorous and refreshingly honest, as Lipa’s relatability managed to shine through.

High: Mickey Guyton calls attention to racism in country music

Audiences were left asking “why have I never heard of Mickey Guyton?” after a stunning performance by the up-and-coming country singer. In Guyton’s well-crafted indictment of racism in America, “Black Like Me,” was one of the most powerful moments of the night. She made history as the first black female solo artist nominated in a country category, an incredible accomplishment given country radio’s ongoing failure to play female artists.

Low: Doja Cat’s performance underwhelms

Doja Cat has had an incredible year and has never failed to deliver stellar award show performances. However, her sci-fi inspired performance of “Say So” was visually underwhelming. Doja Cat’s vocals were impeccable throughout the darker, more intense version of the song, but the shiny black suits and lackluster blue lighting didn’t do it justice.

High: Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B perform “WAP”

The Grammys have long been a night for jaw-dropping, often controversial performances; Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s rendition of “WAP” definitely fit the bill. Megan and Cardi’s infectious energies were more than enough to make up for how heavily censored the song was. From outfits that can only be described as metallic lingerie, to a towering platform heel filled with money, the futuristic strip club aesthetic was instantly iconic. Even more than the larger-than-life stage decorations, Megan and Cardi’s chemistry made the performance unforgettable.

High: “folklore” wins album of the year

The most coveted award of the night, Album of the Year, went to Taylor Swift for her quarantine project “folklore.” The category was filled with significant contenders, including Dua Lipa and Post Malone, but “folklore’s” story-telling and flawless production made it 2020’s most compelling release. The win also made history, as Swift became the first woman to win Album of the Year three times. Of course, this isn’t the first time Swift has made Grammy history — as her 2010 win in the same category made her the youngest Album of the Year winner to date.

Molly Hamilton can be reached at [email protected].

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