The Grammy Awards 2021: the biggest talking points

The show wasn't without its controversy, alongside stunning performances and a history making win for Beyoncé (and her nine-year-old daughter Blue Ivy)

Our first – and hopefully last – pandemic-era Grammys is officially over. Despite the limitations, the Recording Academy managed to put on a decent show – for the most part. As ever, there was plenty to talk about – from the night’s winners, the performances you couldn’t take your eyes off, and the one star who shone brightest of all.

The premiere ceremony reminded us how bad pandemic awards shows can be

Usually, the bulk of Grammys are given out at a smaller in-person event, before the big ceremony kicks off at LA’s Staples Center. Due to the pandemic, the event moved mostly online this year, with only the presenters and some performers appearing in a studio. This isn’t unusual for awards shows held over the last year, but someone at the Recording Academy might want to invest in a better WiFI connection.


Over the course of nearly two-and-a-half hours, we had microphones that crackled like they were buried in a pile of cooking popcorn, mics on mute and glitchy connections. Best – and most awkward of all – was when The Strokes won Best Rock Album, but didn’t even realise so were just stood staring at their webcam when the camera cut to them. Somebody, please, get us back to regular service ASAP.

Beyoncé makes history

They don’t call her Queen Bey for nothing and tonight Beyoncé proved why again with another history-making feat. During the ceremony, the star tied the record for the most Grammy wins for a female artist or any singer, male or female, and then – not many minutes later – went even further. Sorry Alison Krauss, but that record is all B’s now. There’s also only two people with the same amount or more wins than her – producer Quincy Jones, also on 28, and late conductor Georg Solti, who has 31. Can Beyoncé make the ultimate title hers?

And so does her daughter

If you don’t want to be made to feel like the biggest underachiever in the world by a nine-year-old, stop reading now. If you’re still here – well, you’ve only got yourself to blame. Not content with being credited on an album by one of the biggest stars in the world (aka her mum) or scoring a track on the Billboard Hot 100, Blue Ivy Carter has become the second-youngest person to win a Grammy. At the age of nine. Obviously, if her mum wasn’t Beyoncém she probably wouldn’t be living this incarnation of her best life right now, but when a legit child is doing better than you, it does make you stop and wonder what on earth you’re doing with your life. Anyway, congrats to Blue Ivy, maybe she will spur us on to achieve something this year.

BTS take performing at the Grammys to another level

What do you do when you’re on the other side of the world, unable to make it to the Grammys because of the whole pandemic situation? If you’re BTS and fully committed to always going above and beyond to put on a spectacle, you recreate the Grammys stage in very exact, minute detail. That’s precisely what the Korean band did for their latest performance of ‘Dynamite’, but they also didn’t let themselves be restricted by that one set. Instead, they took viewers on a dance through the entire building they were in, including up the stairwell and onto the roof for a look at the Seoul night sky.

BTS might not have won the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance earlier in the night, but they absolutely dominated the live stage, as always.

The Grammys pledge more diversity


Ahead of the Grammys this year, you couldn’t move for stars talking about the awards show – a dream for the ceremony! Or not – very few people had anything positive to say, after all. Much of the criticism was based on diversity and who gets nominated for what. The Weeknd, who wasn’t nominated at all, isn’t going to come back ever; Zayn Malik tweeted, “Fuck the Grammys”; and Justin Bieber said he wouldn’t attend because they nominated him in a pop category rather than R&B. The Grammys have heard all these complaints, though, and they want the world to know they’re listening “more than ever before”.

Towards the end of the night’s event, Grammys boss Harvey Mason Jr appeared in a video message where he acknowledged the criticisms that have been levelled at the Recording Academy of late. He knows there needs to be more diversity, representation and transparency, he says, but he wants the artists and industry to “work with us, not against us” to build something “we can all be proud of”.

Sure, it sounds like a good plan, but we’ve been here before. The Grammys get called out, they promise change, they do a bit and artists are still unhappy. Why should they jump back into that vicious cycle without being shown that real, lasting change is going to be made first? Maybe then we’ll get to see a Weeknd performance at the level he was planning pre-snub.

Megan Thee Stallion stole the show

Yes, Beyoncé might have received the most trophies, but the night belonged to another Houston hottie. From her first acceptance speech during the premiere ceremony (half of which was her screaming excitedly) to her praising Beyoncé on stage, former NME cover star Megan Thee Stallion was the show’s brightest presence. That’s without mentioning her ‘WAP’ performance with Cardi B – essentially what the eyes emoji was invented for. After a year of so much turmoil – both for her personally and in the world at large – Megan owned her first Grammys by being totally and completely herself.