When the history books look back on the 66th Grammy Awards, held in Los Angeles over the weekend, I hope they describe them as the year women were celebrated SO loudly. Every single televised award, aside from a special honour intentionally and knowingly given to Jay Z was won by a woman. And even he and Blue Ivy, standing shyly next to him, used his speech to call out the Academy for their treatment of black artists over the years. He drew particular attention to the fact that his wife Beyonce, the most awarded Grammy artist of all time, has never won Album of the Year. To him and us, that math doesn't make sense.
There were also heaps of wins for women in the pre-telecast too, including in some of the traditionally male-dominated rock categories for Paramore and killer trio boygenius (Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus a Julien Baker). It was a far cry from the Grammys of a few years ago, as in only 2017, when then-CEO Neil Portnow made headlines for saying that if "women wanted to be awarded and allowed to perform at music's biggest night, they needed to step up." I wish I was joking.
The energy in 2024 could not have been more different from the minute Trevor Noah kicked things off in a monologue that shouted out how the year in music had been absolutely dominated and carried by women. He made special mention of the 8 nominees for the biggest award of the night, Album of the Year, who were women. It was a truly historic move from an academy plagued by structural sexism and racism, among other controversies. Perhaps the times really are a' changing.
As if that wasn't enough, women also owned the stage with memorable performances across the board. Whether it was Dua Lipa spinning on scaffolding in a bold opening to the ceremony, SZA's electrifying performance of Kill Bill, the cherry on top of her three Grammy wins or Olivia Rodrigo relishing in the fake blood that dripped down her face, arms and chest during Vampire, they proved exactly why female performers are among the most interesting to watch, because they have to be. They're masters of wielding spectacle, shock and skill to satisfy and delight us, forever reinventing themselves in real time for an audience (us) that never seems to demand quite the same from its men.
My personal favourite performances? There were three. First, Tracy Chapman finally getting her due, her satisfied smile at the roar of recognition from the crowd telling me everything I needed to know about how she felt. There was something so beautiful and graceful in the duet she shared with country singer of her classic, Fast Car, Luke Combs.
Something was striking, too, about the image of a white man whose success exists in a stereotypically conservative genre singing in awestruck harmony with a black queer woman side by side. Prior to seeing them perform together, I'd been skeptical of what Luke Combs was hoping to gain from popularising a cover of his own, hoping it wasn't a case of capitalising on and erasing the voice of a Black artist but one look at his face as he adorably lip-synced along even when Tracy was singing, told me it was just the giddy homage of a kid to his hero.
Miley Cyrus made me giggle with her palpable joy onstage at winning her first Grammy as she showed why she's the leader of the next generation of rockstars. The ease with which she commanded an audience of potentially intimidating peers was fun to watch, not to mention Flowers, one of the catchiest songs I've heard in recent memory. Seriously, I don't think it's left my head in months.
But the crowing jewel of Grammy performances? It had to be Joni Mitchell, the Queen resplendent on her ornate armchair throne. Her first Grammys performance ever at 80 years old after everything she's been through medically (a near-fatal brain aneurysm a decade ago that meant re-learning how to walk), and singing a song she wrote at 25. What a beautiful, wondrous moment. It reminded me of that scene in Barbie where she sits on the bench next to the old woman and takes in the beauty of her face. Her smile. It made me think about how many young women might've been watching and felt even for a moment, OK about ageing.
Women also made history at the Grammys this year. Colombian artist Karol G became the first woman to win Best Musica Urbana for her album Manana Sera Bonita, a fact that should be celebrated and shouted from rooftops all over the world. Her speech was one of shock and wonder - to win your first time at the Grammys is rare and magical. Hopefully it's a sign that her career and the credence given to music not in English is only just beginning to blossom.
The other woman who made history? Taylor Swift. With her win for Midnights as Album of The Year, Swift became the first musician ever to take home four Albums of the Year This puts her ahead of Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder who each won three respectively.
Given their legendary status in the industry, that's no small feat, especially when you consider that at 34 years old, Swift is only just 18 years into her recording career. Oh, and she announced a new album too. Her 11th, The Tortured Poets Department, is an aesthetic awash in English literary vibes and sepia tones. Yes, we're just as intrigued as you are.
Overall, the Grammys were a glorious celebration of women in music and a sign that disrespecting or doubting and trivialising female storytelling is something to be done at your peril. Watch out, women ARE the music industry.