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The Best Performances From the 2021 Grammys

On Sunday, March 14, the 63rd annual Grammy Awards aired on CBS. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, things had to be done differently, but the performances did not disappoint. There was a total of 23 performances, but let’s take a look at some of the standouts. 

Harry Styles - “Watermelon Sugar”

The former One Direction member, Harry Styles, opened up the Main Ceremony with his hit song “Watermelon Sugar.” In his leather suit and green boa, he began the performance with just a piano backing him. As the performance went on, the horn section, guitars and drums added in their sounds with a dramatic flourish. Behind the musicians, there was a beautiful lighting setup that emulated the sun. Harry’s vocals were as clear and powerful as usual, making for the perfect start to the Grammys Main Ceremony.

Billie Eilish and FINNEAS - “everything i wanted”

[bf_image id="m74n5ssx8bczbr7q8r4"] Billie Eilish and her brother FINNEAS followed up Harry Styles’ performance with her hit single “everything i wanted.” Eilish stood on top of a broken-down car in an eerie set that resembled a highway. In keeping with Eilish’s usual style, her calm and quiet vocals commanded the stage and held everyone’s attention. The singer ended up taking home the big award of the night, Record of the Year, for this song. 

DaBaby and Roddy Ricch - “ROCKSTAR”

Donning an all-white suit with Chanel pins and diamond gloves, DaBaby took the stage to perform his Grammy-nominated song “ROCKSTAR” with Roddy Ricch. However, DaBaby surprised the audience by adding a new verse to his song. In his new verse, DaBaby rapped “My skin don’t look the same, so I get singled out. Right now I’m performing at the Grammys, I’ll probably get profiled before leavin’ out.” Not only did DaBaby directly address the racism experienced in this environment, but he also sent a strong message with his backup singers. While the rapper has not directly addressed his intended meaning behind the set, fans have speculated that his all-white backup singers are supposed to reference the Supreme Court. 

Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez - “Dákiti”

Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez gave an energetic performance within an elaborate setup of LED lights. The two performers were making their way through the maze of lights and then ended up on a platform in the center of the stage. After switching to an overhead camera, it was revealed that all of the lights made up the image of an eye. It was a dynamic set fit for the futuristic and fun performance. 

Dua Lipa and DaBaby - “Levitating”/“Don’t Start Now” 

Dua Lipa gave the audience one of the most energetic and fun performances of the night with a mashup of her two songs “Levitating” and “Don’t Start Now.” The performance began with an ethereal projection of the sky over Lipa’s head, but the set quickly shifted to a 70s go-go aesthetic. DaBaby made an appearance for his verse on “Levitating,” and the two artists had great chemistry on stage. Dua Lipa incorporated fun choreography and a number of costume changes that were reminiscent of Lady Gaga at the 2019 Met Gala. 

Taylor Swift - “Cardigan”/”August”/”Willow”

[bf_image id="ggfzwt34r2zcfnf9335pm3s"] While the 2021 Grammys were full of beautiful sets, Taylor Swift’s stood out amongst the others. In keeping with the cottagecore/fairycore aesthetic of her album folklore, Swift performed in what was meant to be a cottage in an enchanted forest. Alongside Swift were two of her collaborators, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner. Taylors breath-taking vocals combined with a unique set made for a truly magical performance.

Mickey Guyton - “Black Like Me” 

Country singer Mickey Guyton made history at the Grammys as the first Black female artist to be nominated as a solo country artist, but that was not the only powerful moment she had. Guyton performed her song “Black Like Me” in a beautifully simplistic setup that made the lyrics all the more impactful. Her song makes comments about what it’s like to be a Black person in American, and more specifically, a Black woman in the country music arena. Guyton sang the thought-provoking lyrics “If you think we live in the land of the free/you should try to be Black like me.”

Megan Thee Stallion - “Body”/”Savage”

Megan Thee Stallion, H-Town Hottie, took the stage by saying “Tonight is my first time at the Grammys, but it’s not my first time entertaining you." After delivering those lines, Megan did not disappoint. With a Roaring 20s inspired set, Megan Thee Stallion brought what she is known for, the perfect combination of “bougie and ratchet.” She also showcased her knees that don’t know pain with the amazing choreography. This was not the last we saw of Meg on the Grammys stage, as she made one other jaw-dropping performance.

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion - “WAP”

If you heard any talk about a Grammys performance, it was probably about this one. The song of the summer “WAP” was performed flawlessly on the Grammys stage. If you haven’t seen the performance yet, you’re missing out. The performance left audiences speechless, so let it speak for itself by watching here

Lil Baby - “The Bigger Picture”

Actions speak louder than words, and Lil Baby’s performance of “The Bigger Picture” was screaming. Lil Baby put the spotlight back on the experiences of Black people in America with gut-wrenching scenes looking back on the Black Lives Matter movement and protests from the summer of 2020. The performance sparked controversy with some people from the Black community saying that they did not need to re-live the events of last summer, but others commended the rapper for keeping it fresh in the minds of the Recording Academy. The Recording Academy has had many an allegation of racial discrimination, so this was an undeniable statement made on their own stage. Watch the performance here.

Doja Cat - “Say So”

One of the last performances of the night was the hit song “Say So” by Doja Cat. Doja began by welcoming the audience to “Planet Her,” the name of her upcoming album. The singer offered a new, unique take on her song with vocals that sounded better than perfect. The futuristic/sci-fi set was perfectly accompanied by a laser light show and fun costumes. And would it be a performance of “Say So” without the iconic TikTok dance?

Despite being in a global pandemic, the Grammys were as fantastic as usual. The performances were all top-notch, and they showcased their artists amazingly.  If this is what we got during COVID-19 restrictions, I can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year.

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Katie Fairbrother is a senior Media Communication Studies major with minors in sociology and British studies. When she isn't writing for Her Campus, you can find her crocheting, playing Animal Crossing, or spending time with her friends.
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