Beyoncé and Taylor Swift had a historic night at the Grammys, where the top four awards all were won by female acts.
Swift became the first female performer to win album of the year three times and Beyoncé, with her 28th win, became the most decorated woman in Grammy history. She also ties Quincy Jones for second place among all Grammy winners.
H.E.R. won song of the year and Billie Eilish picked up record of the year, telling the audience that best new artist winner Megan Thee Stallion deserved the honor.
Though women have won all top four awards in the past — including Eilish’s sweep last year — it marked the first time four separate and solo women won the top four honors.
“We just want to thank the fans,” said Swift, who won the top prize with “folklore” and previously won album of the year with her albums “Fearless” and “1989.”
Beyoncé walked into the show with 24 wins and picked up four more honors, including best R&B performance for “Black Parade” and best music video for “Brown Skin Girl” as well as best rap performance and best rap song for “Savage,” with Megan Thee Stallion.
“As an artist I believe it’s my job, and all of our jobs, to reflect time and it’s been such a difficult time,” Beyoncé said onstage as she won best R&B performance for “Black Parade,” which was released on Juneteenth.
Beyoncé is only behind the late Chicago Symphony Orchestra conductor Georg Solti, who is the most decorated Grammy winner with 31 wins.
But Beyoncé didn’t only make history, her whole family did. The royal family of music all won honors Sunday: Jay-Z picked up his 23rd Grammy, sharing the best rap song win with his wife since he co-wrote “Savage.” And 9-year-old Blue Ivy Carter — who won best music video alongside her mother — became the second youngest act to win a Grammy in show’s 63-year history. Leah Peasall was 8 when The Peasall Sisters won album of the year at the 2002 show for their appearance on the T Bone Burnett-produced “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack.
Megan Thee Stallion, who won three honors, also made history and became the first female rapper to win best rap song. She’s also the fifth rap-based act to win best new artist.
Beyoncé was the night’s top contender with nine nominations. She didn’t perform but Swift did.
She sang “cardigan” and “august” from “folklore,” as well as “willow” from “evermore,” and was joined by the collaborators who helped her make the albums, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, who both won album of the year with Swift.
Silk Sonic, aka Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, also performed, bringing a throwback R&B vibe to the show with their smooth new single, “Leave the Door Open.” Dua Lipa, who won best pop vocal album, proved her star status with a performance of her hits “Don’t Start Now” and “Levitating.” She was joined by the DaBaby, who was an all-star during his own performance of his guitar-tinged rap hit “Rockstar,” flipping the song for an exceptional live rendition featuring R&B singer Anthony Hamilton, a skilled violinist and background singers.
Country singer Mickey Guyton — the first Black woman nominated for best country solo performance — gave an impressive performance of her song “Black Like Me,” which she released last year as police brutality continued to devastate Black families and the coronavirus ravished Black America disproportionately. Lil Baby, joined by Killer Mike and activist Tamika Mallory, gave a political performance that impressed.
“Black Parade” joined a list of songs honoring that Black experience that won Sunday, including H.E.R.’s protest anthem “I Can’t Breathe” and Anderson Paak’s “Lockdown,” which was released on Juneteenth like “Black Parade.”
Other performers Sunday included Eilish, Cardi B, Bad Bunny, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris and Harry Styles, who won best pop solo performance for the hit “Watermelon Sugar.”
“To everyone who made this record with me, thank you so much,” said Styles, the first member of One Direction to win a Grammy.
Among the winners with Chicago history was Kanye West, who claimed his 22nd Grammy and his first in the contemporary Christian category for “Jesus Is King.” Kurt Elling, who won his second jazz vocal album Grammy, and Bobby Rush, winner of the traditional blues album Grammy for the second time, both spent key formative years in Chicago.
And one of the greats of Chicago folk music, the late John Prine, won his third and fourth competitive Grammys for his last recorded song, “I Remember Everything.”
Other double winners included H.E.R., Fiona Apple, Kaytranada and the late Chick Corea.
Host Trevor Noah kicked off the show telling jokes about the coronavirus pandemic and the year that was 2020. He was live from downtown Los Angeles, with attendees wearing masks and sitting, socially distanced, at small round tables.