Rob Sheffield on Taylor Swift, Jay-Z and Extra

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By Calvin S. Nelson

Keep in mind when the Grammys used to suck yearly? As of late, no person does. The Grammy ceremony has been on a historic roll ever since 2021, once they lastly found out cease doing a traditional award present, and switch it into (as host Trevor Noah mentioned) “a live performance the place we give out awards.” Grammy Evening now has blown up right into a ritual that basically looks like a full-blast fan celebration. Final evening’s wonderful Grammy bash had no silly comedy skits, no cringey presenter chit-chat — simply memorable music moments, together with some dog-vomit ones. Oh, and drama. Masses and a great deal of drama.

Taylor Swift — you keep in mind her, proper? She made historical past as the primary artist to win Album of the 12 months 4 occasions — however she additionally selected tonight to inform the world about her new album. Jay-Z roasted the Academy for getting hip-hop unsuitable, in addition to by no means doing proper by Beyoncé. Joni Mitchell introduced the tears. SZA killed the hell out of Invoice. Billie Eilish, Burna Boy, Olivia Rodrigo, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa, and so many different stars had wonderful reside moments. Hell, so did Billy Joel. Tracy Chapman sang with Luke Combs. Killer Mike was taken from the room in handcuffs, booked for battery over an “altercation.” Oprah was within the viewers, rocking onerous all evening.

Swift gained Album of the 12 months for Midnights, setting a brand new file as the primary four-time winner ever. Earlier than that, she was within the three-timers membership with Frank Sinatra, Stevie Marvel, and Paul Simon (and the one feminine artist to win even twice). “Thoughts blown!” she mentioned. “For me, the award is the work. All I wish to do is preserve with the ability to do that.” She dragged Lana Del Rey up onstage along with her, calling her “a legend in her prime.” At this level, they’re most likely renaming the award Album of the 12 months: Taylor’s Model.

Lana Del Ray, Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff

Kevin Mazur/Getty Photographs for The Recording Academy

However Taylor wouldn’t dream of lacking any alternative to make a fantastic massive mess, would she? So she additionally dropped a bombshell tonight: her new album, The Tortured Poets Division, which is approaching April nineteenth. She broke the information early on, whereas successful Finest Pop Album — her thirteenth Grammy. It’s absolute madness that she made an album in her spare time throughout the freaking Eras Tour, to not point out two new Taylor’s Variations and her busy psy-ops schedule. It’s the second straight time she’s revealed her new album throughout an awards present—she introduced Midnights throughout the VMAs, again in August 2022, or within the Taylor timeline, three Quantity One albums in the past. 

Taylor additionally unveiled the album cowl — she’s going black and white once more, like Folklore and Fame—in addition to a handwritten word. “All’s honest in love and poetry,” she signed it. “Sincerely, The Chairman of the Tortured Poets Division.” (That album title completely screams the Return of Quill Pen Taylor.)

Jay-Z gave the funniest, saltiest speech of the evening, selecting up his Dr. Dre International Affect Award. He went off about his spouse Beyoncé by no means successful Album of the 12 months, regardless of successful extra Grammys than anybody in historical past. “I don’t wanna embarrass this younger girl,” Jay-Z mentioned. “However she has extra Grammys than everybody and by no means gained Album of the 12 months, so even by your personal metrics, that doesn’t work.” As for different non-winners, he didn’t maintain again. “A few of you might be gonna go house tonight and really feel such as you’ve been robbed,” he mentioned. “A few of chances are you’ll get robbed. A few of you don’t belong within the class!” However he made no apologies. “Once I get nervous, I inform the reality.”

Accepting the Dr. Dre International Affect Award alongside daughter Blue Ivy, Jay-Z shouted out his spouse Beyoncé: “She has extra Grammys than everybody and by no means gained Album of the 12 months, so even by your personal metrics, that doesn’t work.”

Johnny Nunez/Getty Photographs for The Recording Academy

SZA had an enormous evening, doing “Snooze” and “Kill Invoice,” yelling “I did it! I did it!” in a homicidal second of triumph. She additionally debuted a brand new tune throughout an advert break, “Saturn.” When she gained Finest R&B tune for “Snooze,” she gave the evening’s most emotional speech, operating in late with a hug for presenter Lizzo. (SZA is aware of make a giant Grammy entrance — a few years in the past, she was on crutches, so Girl Gaga helped her up the steps.) She instructed the group, “Sorry I’m out of breath as a result of I used to be altering, then I took a shot and I ran right here.”

She gave a touching tribute to Lizzo, recalling their early days taking part in tiny golf equipment collectively. “I got here actually, actually far,” SZA mentioned. “And I can’t consider that is occurring and it feels very faux.” She additionally gave a shout-out to one in all her followers — “Hello, Taylor!” — and ended with the phrases, “I’m not a horny crier. Have a great night.”

Joni Mitchell broke hearts in all places with “Each Sides Now.” It was a giant event — the primary time she’s ever performed the Grammys, regardless of her many wins over time. However she was right here to make historical past. The 80-year-old Mitchell sat regally in an armchair, singing a tune she wrote at 25 about “life’s confusions,” however with no irony — simply going again to her outdated diary and discovering new tales in it. She was supported by an intimate band together with Brandi Carlile, who launched her as “the matriarch of the creativeness.” She performed with the lyrics in her deepest voice, singing, “They shake their heads and say, ‘Joni, you’ve modified!’” By the top, she was laughing softly to herself, thumping her cane, absolutely conscious she had the entire room—and the entire world—beneath her spell. It was a rock-star second for the ages.

Miley Cyrus rocked “Flowers” in her Tina Turner-cosplay match, in a powerhouse efficiency, asking the group, “Why are you performing such as you don’t know this tune?” She was the evening’s first winner, accepting her award from none aside from Mariah Carey, then gained once more for Document of the 12 months. On the finish of her speech, Miley mentioned, “I don’t assume I forgot anybody, however I may need forgotten underwear.”

Dua Lipa kicked off the evening with a high-energy disco rush of “Dance The Evening,” “Houdini,” and an unreleased banger, “Coaching Season.” Karol G had (extremely) her first Grammy win ever. “Good day everyone!” she mentioned. “My identify is Karol G. I’m from Medellín, Colombia. That is my first time on the Grammys, and that is my first time holding my personal Grammy!” Legendary. Victoria Monét had one other one of many evening’s emotional highlights, when she gained Finest New Artist, for her major-label breakout smash, Jaguar II. “I wish to liken myself to a plant, and you may have a look at the music business as soil,” Monét mentioned. “I really feel like at present I’m sprouting, lastly above floor.”

Tracy Chapman made a comeback triumph, singing her 1988 folk-rock basic “Quick Automotive” with Luke Combs, who made it one in all 2023’s largest nation hits. (It gained Tune of the 12 months on the Nation Music Awards, not a foul feat for a tune she wrote within the Eighties.) This was Chapman’s first public reside efficiency in years, and he or she made it a massively poignant second, as Combs gazed at her with a fan’s reverence and awe.

Olivia Rodrigo sang a stripped-down, devastating, anything-goes “Vampire.” Kacey Musgraves previewed her new music in a video with a falcon on her shoulder, elevating hopes that Kacey is likely to be getting into her mega-glam Roxy Music Avalon period. Burna Boy turned the primary Afrobeats artist to rule the Grammy stage, doing it up in fashion with Brandy and 21 Savage. Billie Eilish did a beautiful “What Was I Made For?,” along with her brother Finneas on the piano. When she took off her Nineteen Fifties-style shades mid-song, she made it really feel like a giant dramatic flourish. When the tune gained Document of the 12 months, she instructed the group, “I’m shocked out of my balls!”

Lainey Wilson gained Finest Nation Album for Bell Backside Nation, and gave one of many evening’s most touching speeches. “I’m a fifth-generation farmer’s daughter,” Wilson mentioned. “I’d take into account myself a farmer, too. All people that I encompass myself with, I feel they’re farmers, too — they’re story farmers. It’s about getting up each single day and planting these seeds and watering them and watching them develop.”

On Grammy Evening, you count on some suck farmers, and Travis Scott delivered with one painfully boring “Fe!n.” U2 appeared reside from The Sphere in Las Vegas, the place their residency has earned a rapturous buzz, however given all the joy, it was an odd option to play “Atomic Metropolis,” a little-known new tune that doesn’t precisely rank with their greatest — not probably the most flattering solution to spend a high-profile Grammy spot. However, Celine Dion, making a shock look handy out Album of the 12 months, bought one of many evening’s most loving ovations. “I really like proper you proper again!” Dion mentioned. “You look lovely.”


Billy Joel made a wonderful return along with his heavily-hyped — step proper up — First New Tune in 30 Years. (He truly launched a brand new tune 17 years in the past, however no person appears to recollect it and that’s most likely for the very best.) “Flip The Lights Again On” was a classic BJ ballad, with a flashy piano-man solo, within the mode of his underrated Eighties basic The Nylon Curtain. Billy closed the present with one in all his Eighties hits, “You Could Be Proper” — however too dangerous he didn’t do “Uptown Lady,” contemplating that Olivia Rodrigo was proper there within the room.

The memorial part was a present in itself, stretching previous the 20-minute mark, beginning with Stevie Marvel paying tribute to his outdated good friend Tony Bennett. Annie Lennox sang “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinead O’Connor, with Wendy and Lisa, who performed with Prince on the time he wrote it. (As each Prince fan was considering, Wendy was at his aspect the evening he met Joni — and performed her “A Case of You.”) Lenny Kravitz launched Jon Batiste for a Invoice Withers medley in honor of Clarence Avant. However Fantasia actually blew off the roof along with her athletic tribute to Tina Turner, shimmying all around the room with “Proud Mary.” Tina additionally bought a touching tribute from Oprah, who referred to as her “our perpetually goddess of rock & roll.” That’s a crown that Tina will put on perpetually.

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