Taylor Swift Wins Fourth Album of the Year at the 2024 Grammy Awards

The 2024 Grammy Awards concluded with a resounding achievement for Taylor Swift, who secured her fourth Album of the Year trophy. This victory solidifies her standing as one of the most exceptional songwriters of her generation. In her gracious acceptance speech, Swift not only celebrated her win but also praised fellow nominee Lana Del Rey, hailing her as a “legend in her prime” who has shaped the trajectory for an entire generation of female artists.

While Taylor Swift claimed the main title, the Grammy Awards demonstrated a relatively equitable distribution of honors, adhering to the industry’s standards. Noteworthy nominees like Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, SZA, and Boygenius all left the ceremony with multiple accolades. The coveted Best New Artist title was awarded to R&B sensation Victoria Monét, marking the first time a female R&B artist has clinched the award since Alicia Keys in 2002.

The evening featured unexpected appearances, such as Celine Dion, and show-stopping performances by Burna Boy and Dua Lipa.

Key Takeaway: Taylor Swift’s Recognition Beyond Music

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Taylor Swift’s achievement is undeniably remarkable; she has now won Album of the Year three times more than The Beatles, two more times than Adele, and one more time than Stevie Wonder. In fact, she has surpassed everyone, making her the record-holder for the most wins in this category.

This latest honor is attributed to her 2022 album, “Midnights,” a collection of dreamy, introspective songs about late-night obsessions. Interestingly, it wasn’t her most critically acclaimed album upon release, leading many to believe that artists like R&B star SZA or indie band Boygenius were more likely contenders.

However, the Grammys aren’t solely determined by musical merit, and Swift currently finds herself in an imperial phase. Her Eras tour has broken box office records, influenced local economies, sparked a government inquiry into Ticketmaster, and even caused seismic activity. Swift’s cultural dominance extends beyond music, as evidenced by her recognition as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and her high-profile romance with Travis Kelce, bringing attention to American football.

It’s challenging to dispute her cultural influence, and this dominance is rooted in her musical contributions. The Recording Academy’s 11,000 voters take songwriting seriously, acknowledging Swift’s ability to straddle the intersection of commercial success and sonic innovation.

Highlight: Standing Ovation for Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell, whose music is described as a language of its own—raw, magical, and almost painfully beautiful—has faced a tumultuous decade. A life-threatening brain aneurysm almost robbed her of her ability to communicate. However, after intensive rehabilitation, she made a triumphant return to the stage in 2022 at the Newport Folk Festival, earning her the Grammy for Best Folk Album on Sunday night.

Mitchell further captivated the audience with a performance of “Both Sides Now,” supported by musicians Brandi Carlile and Jacob Collier. Despite an initial hint of vulnerability in her voice, Mitchell settled into a rich, dusky vocal tone, delivering poignant lyrics adapted for the occasion.

“They say, Joni, you’ve changed,” she sang, modifying the lyrics to fit the moment. “Well, something’s lost, but something’s gained / In living every day.” The performance, rich with experience and laden with significance, rightfully garnered a standing ovation.

Lowlight: Travis Scott vs. Some Chairs

Despite being known for his physically intense performances, Travis Scott’s set at the Grammy Awards left the audience mystified. The rap star delivered a medley of songs shrouded in shadows, with a dancer aimlessly roaming the stage. A brief moment of excitement occurred when Playboi Carti joined him, but it quickly fizzled out as Scott tossed plastic chairs around, reminiscent of a 1980s wrestling match.

Highlight: Jay-Z Goes Off Script

Honored with the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, recognizing black music creators, Jay-Z took an unconventional approach in his acceptance speech. Reflecting on the Grammys, he reminisced about using one of his previous Grammy Awards as a “sippy cup” for his daughter Blue Ivy, who now accompanied him to the stage. Jay-Z humorously mentioned boycotting the 1998 Grammys due to his friend DMX’s snub and boldly brought up Beyoncé’s Grammy history.

Despite Beyoncé’s record-setting 32 Grammys, Jay-Z pointed out that she has never won Album of the Year, challenging the metrics of the awards. This unexpected and unscripted commentary added a candid and thought-provoking moment to the ceremony.

Highlight: Celine Dion’s Surprise Return

Celine Dion surprised the audience with her return to the stage to present the Best Album trophy, nearly a year after canceling all her live shows due to a rare neurological disorder. Dion, announcing the Album of the Year prize, arrived on stage to the sound of her hit single “The Power Of Love.” The significance of her appearance was not lost on the crowd, leading to an instant standing ovation.

In her gratitude, Dion expressed genuine happiness to be there, emphasizing her journey back to health. The singer’s condition causes stiffness in muscles, affecting her limbs and vocal cords. Dion recently announced a documentary about her return to health and reassured fans that she was on the “road to resuming my performing career.”

Highlight: Boygenius’s Childhood Ambitions

The alt-rock supergroup Boygenius emerged as triple winners for their debut album, “The Record.” The album updates the classic 1970s California rock sound, placing emphasis on harmony, friendship, and feminism. Lucy Dacus, accepting their first award for Best Rock Performance, shared their childhood ambitions, reflecting on their delusions as kids, dreaming that such recognition might happen to them.

“We were all delusional enough as kids to think this might happen to us,” Dacus said. The three members—Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus—each had aspirations, with Bridgers hoping to be discovered while singing at the Guitar Center, Baker desiring to play sold-out stadiums, and Dacus practicing acceptance speeches, thanking everyone from her bus driver to the person holding the door at church.

“I feel kind of like a kid because that was the last time that something like this felt possible,” Dacus added.

Key Takeaway: Women “Stepped Up,” but More Progress Needed

Female artists dominated the 2024 Grammy Awards, securing all major prizes and many others. Kylie Minogue won Best Pop Dance Recording, and South Africa’s Tyla received the inaugural award for Best African Performance. Notably, rock and alternative categories, once male-dominated, were now influenced by Paramore (led by Hayley Williams) and Boygenius.

This shift reflects a year in which women achieved significant success on the charts, marking a notable change for the Grammys. In 2018, the ceremony faced controversy when former chairman Neil Portnow suggested that women needed to “step up” for nominations. While progress has been made, the gender gap in the music industry remains, with only 20% of artists signed to major record labels being female, and just 19.5% of all songwriters across the Billboard Hot 100 songs being women.

Dua Lipa, commenting on the red carpet, emphasized the desire for equality, not just on the creative side but also in the business realm, acknowledging the ongoing journey toward achieving that goal.

Highlight: Billy Joel’s Brutal Honesty

Six-time Grammy winner Billy Joel returned to the ceremony to perform “Turn The Lights Back On,” his first new song in almost two decades. Speaking on the red carpet, Joel explained the lengthy process of songwriting, describing it as a self-centered, lonely, and sometimes torturous endeavor. Despite the challenges, he expressed a love for the post-writing phase.

Joel expressed surprise at being invited back to the Grammys after his last performance in 1994. On that occasion, he paused his performance of “River Of Dreams” in protest at Frank Sinatra’s speech being cut short earlier in the show.

“I looked at my watch and I said, ‘There is a lot of valuable advertising time going by here’,” he recalled. “I stopped for a long time… So they still might be mad at me for that.”

Highlight: Tracy Chapman Joins Luke Combs

In a significant moment for the Grammys, Tracy Chapman made a return to the stage to duet with country star Luke Combs. Chapman, known for her successful albums in the 1980s and 1990s, had largely avoided the spotlight since her last tour in 2009. However, she was enticed back after Combs covered her signature song “Fast Car,” bringing it back into the US top 10 last year.

Their performance opened with Chapman playing the unforgettable riff of the song, followed by a vocal exchange with Combs before uniting on the chorus. Both singers displayed delight during the performance, with Chapman grinning throughout, and Combs singing along off-mic during her solos.

In a video clip before the performance, Combs expressed humility at being associated with Chapman, and in the audience, Taylor Swift and country star Jelly Roll sang along passionately. It was a simple yet emotionally resonant pleasure.

Lowlight: U2 in Las Vegas

While acknowledging his fondness for U2, the writer expressed disappointment in the band’s live performance from The Sphere in Las Vegas. The futuristic venue, consisting of 66-foot LED screens, was built at a staggering cost of $2.3 billion. U2’s residency there featured prominently in their Grammy performance, essentially serving as a large-scale advertisement for the venue.

Despite recognizing the Grammys’ focus on concert technology innovation, the performance was deemed disappointingly mediocre. The hope for a rendition of the iconic “Mysterious Ways” went unfulfilled.

Highlight: Virtually Every Other Performer

While the Grammys often present a mixed bag of performances, the 2024 ceremony stood out with a high hit rate. Dua Lipa courageously opened the show with a new song, “Training Season,” performing on metal scaffolding. SZA recreated the Crazy 88 swordfight from Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill,” and Billie Eilish’s rendition of the Song of the Year, “What Was I Made For?,” was appropriately tear-jerking.

Burna Boy exuded charisma during his medley of “On Form,” “City Boys,” and “Sittin’ On Top Of The World.” The In Memoriam section featured touching tributes, with Stevie Wonder honoring Tony Bennett and Annie Lennox delivering a stirring rendition of Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2U,” backed by Prince’s musical collaborators Wendy and Lisa.

Fantasia Barrino stole the show with an electric performance of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” followed by an impromptu dance with Dua Lipa. The performance was a fitting tribute to the Queen of Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Lowlight: The Awkward Grammy Winners’ Photo Tradition

As per Grammy tradition, award winners are required to pose awkwardly with their trophies backstage, with bonus points awarded for kissing the trophy or holding multiple awards. The reason for this tradition remains unclear, possibly linked to some whimsical Illuminati reference.

In Miley Cyrus’s 17-year music career, filled with hits like “Wrecking Ball,” “The Climb,” “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart,” and “Midnight Sky,” she had never won a Grammy until now. Cyrus, who won two prizes – Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for the break-up ballad “Flowers” – marked the moment with a metaphorical story.

She shared the tale of a young boy who, for his birthday, wished for a butterfly. Despite receiving a butterfly net from his parents, the boy struggled to catch one until he let go and surrendered. It was at that moment the butterfly landed on his nose. Cyrus related this story to her song “Flowers,” calling it her butterfly.

Later in the ceremony, Cyrus performed the song live for the first time, adding parenthetical asides to the lyrics and concluding with a mic drop. The moment was rightfully celebrated and acknowledged.