It was a very different Grammy Awards ceremony this year. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no in-person audience besides the nominees. The ceremony was held Sunday night at the LA Convention Center instead of the Staples Center, with most of the awards being presented outdoors on one of the balconies. This lead to awkward moments like when Megan Thee Stallion’s speech was interrupted by the sound of a car going by.
But despite the trying circumstances, there were plenty of things that went right. Here are the most memorable and viral moments from the Grammys 2021.
Trevor Noah as host
The ceremony was hosted by comedian Trevor Noah, who tried to make the best of what might have been an unwinnable situation. In his opening monologue, he referenced the pandemic, politics, and the unusual circumstances of broadcasting outdoors.
“We’re still broadcasting to you from the heart of downtown Los Angeles. This is not a Zoom background, all right?” Noah quipped. “Tonight is going to be the biggest outdoor event this year besides the storming of the Capitol.”
Later during the ceremony, Noah made a tongue-in-cheek jab at the criticism he knew he would be waiting for him on social media.
“Now, we’re going to take a quick break so I can check Twitter and see all the nice things people are saying about me,” he said.
Harry Styles brings boas back
In his first Grammys performance, Harry Styles opened the show, singing “Watermelon Sugar,” a track which later won Best Solo Pop Performance.
However, Styles mostly went viral for his choice of outfit: a black leather coat over no shirt, topped off with a glamorous green feather.
Fans on Twitter referenced everything from The Grinch to Oscar the Grouch in their appraisal of the boa. But Harry Styles has always been one to take fashion risks.
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion drop jaws with “WAP” performance
In the third hour of the show, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion performed a jaw-dropping (and heavily-censored) rendition of their hit single “WAP,” dancing together on a set designed to look like a giant bed.
The performance was just one part of an amazing night for Megan Thee Stallion, who won Best New Artist at the top of the show. She also won Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance for her “Savage Remix” collaboration with Beyoncé.
Taylor Swift serves up a fairy tale medley
Taylor Swift also gave a memorable performance with incredible set design. She sang a medley of songs from her hit albums Folklore and Evermore: “Cardigan,” “August” and “Willow.” And she did part of it on top of a cabin that seemed straight out of a woodland fairy tale, surrounded by a forest and covered with green moss.
Later on, Swift won the Grammys’ highest honor, Album of the Year, for Folklore. This makes her the first woman in history to win Album of the Year three times.
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak debut as Silk Sonic
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak released their first single as their newly-formed soul duo Silk Sonic on March 5. And they made their first appearance together as Silk Sonic, performing “Leave the Door Open” in orange tuxedos and lighting design reminiscent of the ’70s.
The performance left people on Twitter raving for more.
Song of the Year goes to H.E.R.
Song of the Year went to singer-songwriter H.E.R. and co-writers Dernst Emile and Tiara Thomas for their Black Lives Matter-inspired anthem “I Can’t Breathe.”
“I’ve never been so proud to be an artist,” H.E.R. said in her speech. “We wrote this song over FaceTime, and I didn’t imagine that my fear and my pain would turn into impact and it would possibly turn into change.”
The song was released on June 19, 2020 for Juneteenth, in the wake of mass Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd on May 25.
“I thank God for giving me the gift of a voice and a pen and using me as a vessel to create change,” H.E.R. said. “That fight we had in us the summer of 2020, keep that same energy.”
Beyonce went into show with the most nominations of anyone that night (nine) and she left with four wins and two new records. She now has 28 Grammy wins total, surpassing bluegrass artist Alison Krauss to become the woman with the most Grammy Awards ever. She also holds the most wins of any singer, male or female, in the Grammy Awards’ 63-year history.
Her record-setting 28th win came for Best R&B Performance for “Black Parade,” a powerful Black Lives Matter anthem released on Juneteenth.
“I’ve been working my whole life, since 9 years old,” Beyoncé said in her speech. “I can’t believe this happened. It’s such a magical night.”
Billie Eilish wins Record of the Year, but says Megan Thee Stallion deserves it
19-year-old Billie Eilish closed out the night with her win for Record of the Year for “Everything I Wanted.” It marked the second year in the row Eilish won in this category, following her 2020 win for “Bad Guy.”
But in one of the most touching moments of the night, Eilish said she felt Megan Thee Stallion deserved the award instead.
“Megan, girl… I was going to write a speech about how you deserve this, but then I was like, ‘There’s no way they’re going to choose me,’” Eilish said. “I was like, ‘It’s hers.’ You deserve this. You had a year that I think is untoppable. You are a queen.”
Eilish went on, asking the audience to applaud for Megan Thee Stallion. “You deserve it, honestly. Genuinely, this goes to her. Can we just cheer for Megan Thee Stallion, please?”