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Taylor Swift Makes History, Miley Cyrus and SZA Clean Up: The Grammys Were for the Girls

Taylor Swift secured a historic fourth Album of the Year win, while Miley Cyrus and SZA enjoyed big nights of their own at the 2024 Grammy Awards.

Swift’s world-conquering 2023 LP Midnights took home the night’s top prize, making her the first artist to win the award four times. She first won Album of the Year in 2010 for Fearless, then again in 2016 for 1989, and 2021 for Folklore. (Mixing and mastering engineers Tom Coyne, Serban Ghenea, and John Hanes previously won, though Swift is the first artist.) 

“I would love to tell you that this is the best moment of my life, but I feel this happy when I finish a song or when I crack the code to a bridge that I love or when I’m shot-listing a music video, or when I’m rehearsing with my dancers or my band or getting ready to go to Tokyo to play a show,” Swift continued. “For me, the award is the work. All I want to do is keep being able to do this. I love it so much. It makes me so happy.”

But only Swift could manage to make that kind of history and still arguably upstage herself: Earlier in the night, after Midnights won Best Pop Vocal Album, she took the opportunity to announce the April 19th release of new LP Tortured Poets Department

Meanwhile, Cyrus made history of her own, winning her first Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year for “Flowers” (which also took home Best Pop Solo Performance). SZA notched her first Grammys as a solo artist, earning three prizes: Best Progressive R&B Album for SOS, Best R&B Song for “Snooze,” and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Ghost in the Machine,” her collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers.

In fact, it was actually Bridgers who quietly had the biggest night of anyone, at least statistically: The singer-songwriter won four Grammys — the most of anyone this year — including the shared award with SZA and three with Boygenius. 

As for the other big prizes, the Recording Academy resumed its love affair with Billie Eilish and Finneas, awarding them Song of the Year for their hit Barbie soundtrack offering, “What Was I Made For?” And Victoria Monét secured the coveted Best New Artist prize on top of winning Best R&B Album for Jaguar II

All of this cemented something that admittedly seems obvious in a year in which seven of the eight Album of the Year nominees alone were women: The 2024 Grammys were all about the girls. On top of the successes of Swift, Cyrus, SZA, Bridgers, and Monét, the Academy awarded first-ever wins to Karol G (Best Música Urbana Album for Mañana Será Bonito), Lainey Wilson (Best Country Album for Bell Bottom Country), and Coco Jones (Best R&B Performance for “ICU”).

Meanwhile, Boygenius and Paramore largely split the spoils in the Rock and Alternative categories: The former won Best Rock Performance and Song for “Not Strong Enough,” plus Best Alternative Music Album for The Record; the latter won Best Rock Album for This is Why and Best Alternative Music Performance for that LP’s title track. Kylie Minogue even snatched a first Grammy win in two decades, taking home Best Pop Dance Recording for “Padam Padam.” 

But overhanging all of that joy were a few pre-show clouds — even literally in the form of an unexpected Los Angeles rainstorm. Outside the Crypto.com arena, protesters gathered to raise support for Palestine, while inside, Killer Mike was detained hours after winning his first three Grammys as a solo artist (Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance).

Moments before the Grammys telecast started, footage emerged of Render being taken away in handcuffs. As Rolling Stone reported, Render was cuffed and detained after an alleged “physical altercation” with a third party inside the arena. “Somebody complains, obviously we have to do something about it,” the source said. He would later be booked for misdemeanor battry, according to the LAPD.

When the show did get underway, Trevor Noah was back at the helm for the fourth straight year. The comedian and former Daily Show host showed why he’s become a reliable guide for music’s biggest night with a monologue filled with the earnest gushing of a true fan, and jokes that lightly singed but rarely scorched. He seemed genuinely overjoyed as Meryl Streep accidentally crashed his monologue as she scurried late to her seat, and to Olivia Rodrigo, he wondered what she planned on rhyming “blood sucker” with when she performed “Vampire” on national television.

There was a bit about an AI-generated version of Andrea Bocelli singing “My Neck, My Back” (“It was beautiful, but it was wrong”), and a clever barb at Universal Music Group’s budding feud with TikTok (“Shame on you ripping off all of these artists! How dare you! That’s Spotify’s job”). Noah even pulled off a Taylor Swift-NFL joke that had Swift laughing, promising every time Swift was mentioned he’d make sure the camera cut to a football player in the crowd (luckily, defensive end and linebacker-turned-actor Terry Crews was in the house). 

As has become customary, the 2024 Grammys was largely about the performances, with a handful of awards thrown in as if a reminder. The show opened with recent Rolling Stone cover star Dua Lipa burning up the dance floor (and scaling some scaffolding) while debuting her new song “Training Season.” Other highlights included SZA’s double-shot of “Snooze” and “Kill Bill” (complete with a dead ex); Burna Boy’s ebullient medley of “On Form,” “City Boys,” and “Sittin’ On Top of the World” with 21 Savage and Brandy; and Cyrus’ scorching rendition of “Flowers,” which even had Oprah howling along. 

Elsewhere, Tracy Chapman made a glorious return to live TV for the first time in nine years, joining Luke Combs on “Fast Car.” Joni Mitchell made her long-overdue Grammy performance debut (seriously) with a version of her classic “Both Sides Now” alongside Brandi Carlile, Allison Russel, SistaStrings, Lucius, Jacob Collier, and Blake Mills. And the expansive, multi-faceted “In Memoriam” segment featured Stevie Wonder honoring Tony Bennett, Annie Lennox paying tribute to Sinead O’Connor (and calling for a ceasefire in Gaza), and Fantasia Barrino bringing the house down with her celebration of Tina Turner.

Closing out the show was Billy Joel, who returned to the Grammys for the first time in 22 years. First, he delivered the live debut of his first single since 2007, “Turn the Lights Back On,” then returned for an well-deserved encore with his 1980 classic, “You May Be Right.”

As for those awards, especially all the down ballot ones handed out before the start of the telecast, there were notable double wins for Jason Isbell (Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Album), Chris Stapleton (Best Country Song and Solo Performance), and Fred Again.. (Best Dance/Electronic Album and Best Dance/Electronic Recording).

Zach Bryan, Lil Durk, Peso Pluma, and Tyla all won their first Grammys, while Jack Antonoff picked up Producer of the Year, Non-Classical for the second year in a row. Mitchell earned Best Folk Album for her live LP Joni Mitchell at Newport and even the Beatles scored a Grammy, picking up Best Music Video for “I’m Only Sleeping,” a track that originally appeared all the way back on 1966’s Revolver

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Jay-Z was also on-hand to accept the Recording Academy’s Global Impact Award — a fairly new honor recognizing for Black music creators — and took the opportunity to engage in the time-honored tradition of roasting the Grammys at the Grammys. During his speech, Jay dug into the Recording Academy’s long, complicated (to say the least) relationship with hip-hop and Black artists, more broadly — themes underscored this year by on-site detainment and the fact that, for the first time since 2015, no rap awards were handed out during the Grammys telecast. 

“I’m just saying, we want y’all to get it right,” Jay said. “We love y’all. We love y’all. We love y’all. We want y’all to get it right. At least get it close to right.”

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