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Women make history at 66th Grammy Awards

The Grammy Awards is a special night for music lovers all over the world. As a ceremony known for its performances, celebrity announcements and shocking upsets, this past Sunday was surely a night to remember. 

With a return from host Trevor Noah at the Arena in Los Angeles, here is an overview of what happened at the 66th Grammy Awards:

Album of the Year: "Midnights" by Taylor Swift

Sunday, Taylor Swift made Grammy history by being the first woman to win Album of the Year four times for her albums "Fearless," "1989," "folklore" and, now, "Midnights."

After having a peak year in her career thanks to her widely popular "Eras Tour," it's no surprise the singer took home the night's biggest prize. Swift also caused commotion with the announcement of her new album, "The Tortured Poets Department," after receiving a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album.

With a range of songs that explored themes ranging from Swift's breakup with longtime boyfriend Joe Alwyn to her struggles with an eating disorder and depression, "Midnights" is one of the singer's most poignant works. Swifties were captivated by songs like "Anti-Hero," "Karma" and "Lavender Haze" for months, proving Swift's lasting impact as a singer-songwriter.

However, this category has a long history of sparking controversy at the Grammy Awards, which rapper Jay-Z pointed out beforehand during his acceptance speech for the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award. He noted how the Grammy voters have never awarded many of his musical peers Album of the Year, including his wife Beyoncé, making the speech one of the more thought-provoking of the night.

"I don't want to embarrass this young lady (Beyoncé), but she has more Grammys than everyone and never won Album of the Year,” he said. "So even by your own metrics, that doesn't work … The most Grammys, never won Album of the Year. That doesn't work."

Swift's win, while historic, served as a reminder that diversity in the category has yet to be improved. An emphasis on the repetitive nature of the awards caused many viewers to stop and reflect on the faults that come with highlighting mainstream musicians, usually from the white majority.

Song of the Year: "What Was I Made For?" by Billie Eilish 

Another tough category proved an easy feat for now nine-time Grammy-winner Billie Eilish. Winning Song of the Year for "What Was I Made For?" from Greta Gerwig's "Barbie," the singer's powerful song took the world by storm. It also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in January. 

Deeply poetic and relatable for many female-identifying listeners, the track deals heavily with self-worth and likability, which viewers saw in "Barbie." Eilish's feature in the blockbuster film shows just how memorable a simple melody and piano-backed chorus can be, especially at a time when women's rights are constantly being challenged.

Best Pop Solo Performance: "Flowers" by Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus won her first Grammy for her viral chart-topping hit "Flowers," the only lead single off last year's "Endless Summer Vacation." Cyrus also won Record of the Year, making the night full of impressive wins for many female musicians in attendance.

In "Flowers," Cyrus channeled heartbreak into a self-empowerment anthem. Using wordplay and lyricism structured similarly to Bruno Mars’s "When I Was Your Man," the singer transformed her sound to create a catchy and unforgettable song that will define her career for years to come.

Best New Artist: Victoria Monét

Victoria Monét has been in the music industry as a producer since the 2010s, and she was nominated for seven Grammy Awards this year. Due to the release of her album "JAGUAR II" last year, the singer-songwriter has grown in popularity for her solo work and won Best New Artist on Sunday.

Monét's strong work ethic and sense of confidence have made her career so fruitful, and it was inspiring to see her finally get the recognition she's deserved for years. With iconic songs like "On My Mama," the singer's status is now well cemented in Grammys history, especially after following in the footsteps of other Best New Artist winners like Samara Joy and Megan Thee Stallion. 

Best Rock Performance: "Not Strong Enough" by boygenius

Last March, boygenius garnered fame and success in 2023 after releasing its first studio album, "the record." One of the album’s lead singles, "Not Strong Enough," became an instant favorite among fans and won Best Rock Performance. The win was historic in itself for a queer band led by Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. The band beat out other big names such as Metallica, Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys.

"Not Strong Enough" pulls from 1990s rock reminiscent of artists like Sheryl Crow, integrating the themes of heartbreak and self-destruction to make one of the group's best songs. Serving as another well-deserved win from Sunday, the group plans to go on a hiatus after a busy year of touring and promoting "the record."

Best Rock Album: "This Is Why" by Paramore

The three-time Grammy-winning band is now the first female-led band to win Best Rock Album at the Grammy Awards. The long-awaited victory comes nine years after Paramore's first win with "Ain't It Fun" for Best Rock Song in 2015. "This Is Why" served as the first single off the trio's sixth studio album of the same name, released last February. 

A song about not wanting to face the outside world after a global pandemic and political unrest, the track was a unique shift in tone from Paramore's last album, 2017's "After Laughter." Integrating psychedelic rock guitar hooks reminiscent of bands like the Talking Heads, members Hayley Williams, Taylor York and Zac Farro proved their innovation and constant creative experimentation was successful with a Grammy win.

In Memoriam performance

Another annual tradition at the Grammy Awards is its remembrance of musicians who had died during the last year. Stars such as Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox, Jon Batiste and Fantasia Barrino sang covers of works such as Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" and Sinéad O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U."

The performance also honored the following artists: Tony Bennett, Jimmy Buffett, Shane MacGowan, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Tugoy the Dove, Ahmad Jamal, Andy Rourke, Rudolph Isley, Mary Weiss, Burt Bacharach, Gangsta Boo, Les McCann, Denny Laine, Chita Rivera, Jane Birkin, Wayne Kramer, David Lindley, Randy Meisner, Charlie Robison, Michael Rhodes, Gary Rossington, Gary Wright, Terry Kirkman, George Winston, Melanie, Jean Knight, Rodriquez, Marlena Shaw, Russell Batiste Jr., Rita Lee, Bobby Caldwell, Aaron Spears, Magoo and Gordon Lightfoot.

Lennox called for a ceasefire in Gaza during her cover of O'Connor's hit, saying, "Artists for ceasefire!" The statement comes days after over 10,000 pro-Palestine supporters called for an immediate ceasefire during a march in London. It was the first demonstration since the United Nations top court ordered Israel "to ensure it does not commit acts of genocide."


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