Beyoncé makes history and Harry Styles wins album of the year
Beyoncé won a record-breaking 32nd Grammy Award, while Harry Styles won album of the year, at this year’s ceremony in Los Angeles.
Beyoncé made history as she won best dance/electronic album for her euphoric dance opus, Renaissance.
In doing so, she overtook Hungarian-British conductor George Solti, whose record of 31 Grammys had stood for more than 20 years.
“I’m trying not to be too emotional,” said the star, accepting her prize.
“I’m trying to just receive this night.”
She went on to thank her family, including her late uncle Jonny, who helped make her stage outfits before she became famous.
Beyoncé has previously said his battle with HIV influenced her interest in dance music, and its historical ties to the LGBTQ community, on Renaissance.
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Overall, Beyoncé won four prizes at the ceremony – but missed some of the early presentations after getting stuck in gridlocked downtown Los Angeles.
“I’m surprised traffic could stop you,” joked host Trevor Noah. “I thought you travelled through space and time.”
Despite her success, Beyoncé was once again locked out of the coveted album of the year award.
She has now lost the prize four times, most notably in 2017 when her confessional masterpiece Lemonade was beaten by Adele’s 25.
At the time, Adele used her acceptance speech to say Beyoncé was the more deserving winner (although she held on to the trophy).
This year, Harry Styles took the crown, with Grammy voters recognising the slick, radio-friendly pop of his third record Harry’s House.
In his speech, the British star downplayed the importance of the prize.
“On nights like tonight, it’s obviously so important for us to remember that there is no such thing as best in music,” said the singer.
“I don’t think any of us sit in the studio, making decisions based on what is going to get us one of these.”
However, he was visibly moved by the honour, adding: “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often, and this is so, so nice.”
Earlier in the night, the star also won best pop album – receiving his award with a kiss from Jennifer Lopez.
“This album from start to finish has been the greatest experience of my life,” he said. “From making it with two of my best friends to playing for people has been the greatest joy I could have asked for.”
British artists triumph
Billed as “music’s biggest night”, the Grammys are the industry’s most prestigious awards.
Sunday’s show was attended by Adele, Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, Shania Twain and Stevie Wonder, with performances from Lizzo, Steve Lacy and Brandi Carlile.
British artists had a good night, with indie duo Wet Leg winning two prizes, including best alternative album; and Sam Smith receiving best pop duo/group performance for Unholy, a duet with Kim Petras.
Smith’s prize was their first Grammy since 2015, when they won four trophies, including best new artist.
However, the singer let Petras take the microphone to mark another historical achievement.
“Sam graciously wanted me to accept this award because I’m the first transgender woman to win this award,” said the German-born singer.
She went on to thank the late, transgender pop artist Sophie for “kicking these doors open”, and Madonna “for fighting for LGBTQ rights”, before dedicating the award to her mother.
“I grew up next to nowhere in Germany and my mother believed me, that I was a girl,” she said, as Smith looked on with pride. “I wouldn’t be here without her and her support.”
The duo later gave a sultry, BDSM-inspired performance of their ode to infidelity, introduced by Madonna.
“If they call you shocking, scandalous, troublesome, problematic, provocative, or dangerous you’re definitely onto something,” said the star.
Tributes and memories
Adele also won best pop vocal performance for Easy On Me, dedicating the prize to her son Angelo.
The singer told the audience she had written the first verse “in the shower when I was choosing to change my son’s life”, by divorcing her then-husband, Simon Konecki.
She added: “I love a piano ballad winning any kind of award because it’s very old school and very brave.”
Singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt was the surprise winner of song of the year – beating favourites Taylor Swift and Beyoncé with her sorrowful ballad Just Like That.
Voters were undoubtedly moved by Raitt’s tender lyrics, in which a woman mourning the death of her son finds comfort from the man who received his heart in a transplant.
“I’m so proud that you appreciate this one,” said the 72-year-old, accepting her trophy.
Bad Bunny opened the show in an explosion of colour, replicating a Puerto Rican fiesta in the aisles of Los Angeles’ Crypto.com arena.
His medley of El Apagón and Después De La Playa was enhanced with pyrotechnics, dozens of dancers and a troop of cabezudos, the “bighead” puppets that march down the streets of San Juan every January.
He later won the prize for best Música Urbana album, in recognition of Un Verano Sin Ti, which spent 13 weeks at number one in the US last year.
“I made this album with love and passion, and when you do things with love and passion, everything is easier,” said the singer.
Other performances came from Americana star Brandi Carlile and Lizzo, who gave a gospel-infused take on her current single, Special.
She later won record of the year for About Damn Time, and used her speech to honour Prince, who gave her an early break on his song Boytrouble.
“When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music.” She also paid tribute to Beyoncé, calling her “the artist of our lives”.
The in memoriam section gave an emotional send-off to stars like Olivia Newton-John, Irene Cara, David Crosby and Jeff Beck.
Kacey Musgraves played a heartfelt version of Coal Miner’s Daughter in tribute to the “Queen of Country” Loretta Lynn; while Fleetwood Mac star Christine McVie was honoured with a performance of her signature hit, Songbird, by Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and Mick Fleetwood.
And Migos rapper Quavo played Without You – a song he wrote after the tragic death of his nephew and bandmate Takeoff last November.
In a more celebratory moment, the stage was taken over by more than two dozen rap icons, celebrating 50 years of hip-hop.
Turntable pioneer Grandmaster Flash kicked off the set with Flash Was On The Beat, cueing up an almost 12-minute trawl through the genre’s greatest hits.
Run-DMC played Rock The Bells, Public Enemy delivered a verse of Yo, Bum Rush The Show, Missy Elliot swept in for Lose Control and Busta Rhymes gave a show-stopping performance of his high-velocity rap from Chris Brown’s Look At Me Now.