The winners of the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards

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Photo: Courtesy/ Sachyn Mital via WikiCommons

Three-time Grammy Award winner Fiona Apple

By Gary Sowder and Joshua Sokol

The 2021 Grammy Awards are finally upon us. The premiere ceremony streamed live on the Recording Academy’s website, beginning at 3pm EST. Comedian Trevor Noah will take the stage at 8pm EST to host the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. 

Tune in for a not-so-complete list of pre-show winners, and a complete list of the official ceremony winners, including but not limited to Rock, Rap, Pop, and the General Field. This story will be updated as the night continues.

Update 11:30 p.m. EST

Record of the Year: “Everything I Wanted”––Billie Eilish

After a year unlike any other, when Billie Eilish shot to unprecedented stardom before she could vote or drive, Billie Eilish swept the Grammy awards “Big Four” categories in 2020: Record, Song, and Album of the Year, as well as Best New Artist. 

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Following this historic win––she is the youngest Album of the Year winner and the first woman to achieve a “Big Four” sweep––Billie turned inward. Eschewing the dark-pop-maximalism that defined her debut album When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go. “Everything I Wanted” is softer, dreamier, and more meditative than any of the pop smashes that made Eilish the zeitgeist-definer she is today. She questions whether or not anyone would miss her if she jumped off a bridge, recounting nightmares she’s had, and concludes that as long as she has her brother––her main co-writer and producer, FINNEAS––everything will be okay. 

In a year that was as muted and hazy as “Everything I Wanted,” this closing win, landed just as softly. Eilish spent the majority of her speech praising Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage.” It’s only fitting that the 2021 Grammy’s, arriving a little over a year after we all got kicked out of our dorms and forced to finish out our semester online, would end with a bit of a dud.

Update 11:15 p.m. EST

Album of the Year: Folklore––Taylor Swift

We called it.

Folklore was Taylor Swift breaking out of her mold. It was the album she made when she no longer had to tour. When she no longer had to make pop bangers to bounce across stadiums. It was the album she made when she no longer had to be Taylor Swift, pop superstar.

Swift has always considered herself a songwriter first and a singer second. With this album, she finally placed her lyricism at the forefront once again. In a time where we all turned inward, Taylor helped us feel less alone by doing what she does best: making the ultra-specific universal. 

With this win Taylor is the first woman to win Album of the Year three times. Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder are the only others to achieve this feat, with Wonder winning his Album of the Year in 1977.

Update 10:50 p.m. EST

Best R&B Performance: “Black Parade”––Beyoncé

With this win, her fourth of the night, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is now the most awarded performer in the show’s history. She won her first two Grammys twenty years ago, as a member of Destiny’s Child.

“Black Parade” is a celebration. A rallying cry. A song that manages to be as empowering as it is mobilizing. Beyonce weaves her lower register around a slick trap beat, referencing Black history, culture, spirituality, and activism both past and present. It is a starting sprint and a victory lap, and the most nominated song this year.

Beyoncé has won 28 Grammys at the time of writing.

Update 10:50 p.m. EST

Best Pop Vocal Album: Future Nostalgia––Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa burst onto the scene with “New Rules,” a tropical house song with a beautifully shot music video. With Future Nostalgia she cranked her pop stylings up and turned her eyes to the past. The record incorporates gorgeous violin samples, Euro-house beats, rubbery bass, and 80s dance-pop perfection with references to Prince-style guitar riffs. All of these musical flourishes fall to the background against Lipa’s raspy, squeaky, smokey voice. 

This is Lipa’s third Grammy Award.

Update 10:40 p.m. EST

Best Rap Song: “Savage” (Remix) –– Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé

Megan Thee Stallion’s original version of “Savage” appeared on her EP Suga. This summer, the “Savage” remix, featuring new verses from Megan and harmonies and verses from Bey, skyrocketed to the top of the charts, giving us an IV drip of empowerment during our loneliest months. 

The wordplay is sharp, each line hits like a gut punch, and every pop-culture reference already feels like a time-capsule of early-quarantine––they’re little universes, condensed into a few bars.

To see two proud Black women, singers, songwriters, and rappers standing on that stage gave us a twinkle of hope we haven’t felt since February 2020.  

With this win, Beyoncé has tied Alison Krauss as the most awarded woman and the most awarded performer at the Grammys. They are both the third most awarded person, behind Quincy Jones and George Solti.

This is Beyoncé’s 27th win of her career and Megan’s third win of the night.

Update 10:10 p.m. EST

Song of the Year: “I Can’t Breathe”––H.E.R.

This is the second time a “should have won” from our predictions turned into an actual win. 

“I Can’t Breathe” was released at the height of this past summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. It sees Gabriella Wilson, translating her pain and anger, in response to police officers murdering Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless Black lives, into her signature acoustic-guitar-led R&B. The song culminates in a spoken-word piece where Wilson, too overcome with emotion to sing, speaks directly to white accomplices, asking them to do better. She deftly touches on the systemic, racist violence rooted in the founding of the United States, the generational pain that comes with being Black in a white supremacist society, she closes the song with a “Strange Fruit” allusion and a takedown of the hypocrisy in “All Men are Created Equal.”

“I Can’t Breathe” was written by Gabriella Wilson (H.E.R.), Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II, and Tiara Thomas. 

Update 9:30 p.m. EST

Best Pop Solo Performance: “Watermelon Sugar”––Harry Styles

We got it right folks! Okay, fine, Josh got it right.

Like we said, the Grammys adore a reinvention, and Harry’s turn from boy band heartthrob to funk-rock crooner is textbook reinvention. Styles’s voice swoons over pompous horns and lush harmonies, in his low register he yearns for your belly and in his high voice he craves whatever a “watermelon sugar high” is. Styles began his career as an X-Factor contestant, the target of––probably misguided––hatred simply because teenage girls thought his hair was fluffy. To win with his own song, his own vision, and dressed like Cher Horowitz, is a true vision of what a 2021 Grammy Award winner looks like.

This is Styles’s first Grammy.

Best Country Album: Wildcard––Miranda Lambert

Throughout Lambert’s extensive career, she’s taken on many personas: the blonde bombshell, the crazy ex-girlfriend, the scorned housewife, and the heartbroken divorcee. Her latest album, Wildcard, comes off the heels of her double-album The Weight of These Wings, which chronicled her divorce from country-star and Gwen Stefani’s new fiancé, Blake Shelton. Wildcard sees her going back to her country-rock roots, free from the pain of heartbreak.

This is her second Best Country Album win, she first won for her fifth album, Platinum.

Best New Artist: Megan Thee Stallion

Megan Thee Stallion won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Megan has made confidence and sex-positivity as political as it was danceable. This year she dominated the charts with her Grammy-winning remix of “Savage,” featuring Beyoncé, and sent Ben Shapiro into a tailspin with a song called “Wet Ass Pussy.” She dropped hit after hit, inspired countless memes, and after rapper Tory Lanez allegedly shot her in both feet, she came back days after surgery to deliver an empowering SNL performance and promote her star-studded debut album Good News, which features her latest hit “Body.”  

This is her second win of the night.

Best Music Video: “Brown Skin Girl” Beyoncé featuring Blue Ivy Carter, Saint Jhn, and WizKid

“Brown Skin Girl” was included on Beyoncé’s Lion King inspired album The Gift, and its music video premiered as part of Beyoncé’s film Black is King. The video, and the entire film, are celebrations of Black women. It was directed by Knowles and director Jenn Nkiru.

Best Music Video is awarded to the directors, producers, and singers. It is Beyoncé’s 25th Grammy Award. Saint Jhn, WizKid, Jenn Nkiru, and Blue Ivy’s first. Blue Ivy is now one of the youngest people to ever win a Grammy.

Best Alternative Album: Fetch the Bolt Cutters –– Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple has won her second Grammy Award––she won Best Rock Performance in 1998 for her song “Criminal.” Fetch the Bolt Cutters was Fiona’s first album in eight years and is one of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time. 

Our predictions were wrong in the best way possible, despite my rapturous love for Bridgers’s Punisher, Apple’s fifth studio album was a triumph, a career-high point in a career made up of highs, and the best way to ring in a quarantine that would, unknowingly, rage on for over a year. 

Apple did not accept this award in person or via Zoom, stating that the she doesn’t want to be on national television. This comes after statements she’s, in the past, made criticizing the Recording Academy for nominating producer Dr. Luke three years after Kesha performed her song “Praying,” allegedly about Luke, at the 60th Grammy Awards. 

Apple is the third female artist to win Best Alternative Album in the history of the Grammys, following Sinéad O’Connor and St. Vincent.

Best Traditional R&B Performance:Anything for You”–– Ledisi

We were wrong! We pegged Chloe x Halle’s “Wonder What She Thinks of Me” as the winner.

Ledisi won Best Traditional R&B Performance for her song “Anything for You” off her ninth studio album The Wild Card. She has been making music since 1995, but first gained Grammy recognition in 2008. On top of singing and songwriting, she has acted on both stage and screen. She has received thirteen Grammy nominations over the years, this is her first win.

Best R&B Song: Better Than I Imagined –– Robert Glasper Featuring H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello

In light of our predictions, we could not have been more wrong about this category. We pegged either “Black Parade” or “Do It” to be shoe-ins for this category. 

This is Glasper’s fourth total Grammy Award. He has eleven studio albums under his belt and first gained Grammy recognition in 2013 when his fifth studio album Black Radio won Best R&B Album.

Best Progressive R&B Album: It Is What It Is –– Thundercat

Well. This is a bit awkward. We were wrong… Again.

Thundercat, in response to his much-deserved award, tweeted “HOLY SHIT I WON!!!!!” The bassist and vocalist has worked in the past with artists such as Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, and was a producer and featured artist on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly

This is Thundercat’s second Grammy award, he first won an award for his work on “These Walls” off of Lamar’s album for Best Rap/Sung Performance.

Best Pop Duo Performance: “Rain on Me” Lady Gaga featuring Ariana Grande

We all remember where we were when this song dropped. The second single off of Gaga’s return to dance-pop Chromatica. For a brief moment in May we were brought back to the clubs and bars shut down by COVID-19, even if it was only through sound. 

This is Gaga’s tenth Grammy and Ariana’s second.

Best Rock Performance: “Shameika”–– Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple won this same award almost twenty-five years ago. Since then, she’s released some of the most acclaimed albums of the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s. To win once again, on what many are calling her mainstream comeback, feels almost poetic. 

We thought Apple’s criticism of the Recording Academy would hinder her chances at snagging not one, but two wins! Thankfully, we were incorrect.

Apple also didn’t appear in person to accept this award. She said in a December interview that, if she won she’d walk on stage, wordlessly, smash the award with a sledgehammer, and distribute the pieces to her fellow female nominees. We can only assume this is a Mean Girls reference.    

Best Rock Song: “Stay High”–– Brittany Howard

Brittany Howard’s 2019 album Jaime marked her solo debut. She first came to us as a frontwoman, serving as the lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter of Alabama Shakes and Thunderbitch. On Jaime, Howard breaks out of the bluesy rock of the Shakes and the class rock ‘n roll sound of Thunderbitch to help us transcend with synth-laden, neo-soul infused, psych-rock. 

This is the first Grammy Howard has won as a solo artist––she’s previously been honored four times with Alabama Shakes. 

Best Rock Album: The New Abnormal ––The Strokes

The Strokes rose to commercial and critical fame in the early aughts, with their culture-shaking album Is This It? Shockingly, they’ve never won or even been nominated for a Grammy prior to this year. 

This moment was soured by unstable internet connection as The Strokes, Zooming in from what appeared to be a poorly-lit man cave, couldn’t hear their name announced— something that will surely be commonplace throughout the night.

Note: This is a breaking story that will be updated throughout the night as more winners are announced. Tune in later tonight for more updates, or follow our Twitter @BeaconUpdate to stay up to date.