It was the year of the female at Grammys 2020.
Back in 2018, Neil Portnow, then President and Chief Executive of the Recording Academy made the infamous remark that women need to “step up” if they want equal recognition. Cut to 2020, it’s an all-woman show at the world’s most famous music awards.
While the mood was solemn as before the ceremony the news arrived that NBA star Kobe Byrant and his 13-year-old daughter passed away in a helicopter crash along with seven others; the performers paid him tribute in their own ways, to honour the basketball legend.
It started with Lizzo announcing “Tonight is for Kobe,” as she sang her song ‘Cuz I Love You’, followed by a takeover of the stage by women. Here’s a look at how female artists dominated the Grammys 2020.
If there was a top entertainer award, Lizzo would be the ideal contender. Oh wait, she’s already won that race with the Time Entertainer of the Year 2019. Adding to her repertoire of spectacular performances and awards cabinet, Lizzo not only enthralled the audience at Grammys 2020 but also took home three awards. The singer-songwriter, rapper and flautist won the Best Pop Solo Performance for ‘Truth Hurts’, Best Urban contemporary Album for ‘Cuz I Love You’, and Best Traditional R&B Performance for ‘Jerome’.
Known not only for her music but also fiercely championing body positivity on social media, Lizzo had the stage afire. Along with award-winning songs, she performed a flute solo. The talented backup dancers (replete with ballet moves and tutus) and orchestra showcased their skills, and even showed up in a sheer, light-up jumpsuit – adding touch of the signature Lizzo drama.
Billie Eilish made history at Grammys 2020. The 18-year-old became the youngest solo performer ever to win ‘Album of the Year’, overtaking Taylor Swift who’d achieved this feat at age 20 for ‘Fearless’. Not just that, Eilish swooped five of the six nominations she’d received, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for ‘Bad Guy’, Best New Artist, and Best Pop Vocal Album for ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’
Also, she’s the first woman to win awards for album, record, song, and new artist in the same year. The only other artist to do so was Christopher Cross in 1981. Though the artist seemed genuinely shocked at receiving the awards, not just with the Recording Academy’s decision but also the immense popularity of her songs.
While one of 2019’s breakout singers didn’t win in her nominated category–Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for ‘Senorita’–her performance at the Grammys 2020 made the evening electric. Camila Cabello sang ‘First Man’ to her father, who was seated in the audience and had the gathering in tears with her heartwarming gig.
A song from her album ‘Romance’, which topped the charts last year, she said it’s dedicated to Mr. Cabello as he’s the “first man who really loved” and continues to support her. She ended the ballad by walking to her father sitting in the front row, who poured tears at this dedication. The performance was even more poignant given the timing, with the father-daughter pair of Kobe and Gianna on everyone’s mind.
Demi Lovato marked her comeback to the music industry with the Grammys 2020. The 27-year-old musician had overdosed in June 2018. Having overcome that phase, she delivered a powerful ballad at the award ceremony. ‘Anyone’, which received a standing ovation from the audience, had been written just four days prior to her drug overdose. “Tired of empty conversation, ’cause no one hears me anymore”, she sang in the moving song which reflected her putting back the pieces together after having broken apart.
Hosting award shows is always tricky business. With the Recording Academy in disarray days before the Grammys and President Deborah Dugan being ousted followed by the unfortunate news of Kobe’s demise — Keys didn’t have easy waters to walk through. Yet, she hosted like a pro.
Starting off the evening with a touching speech dedicated to Kobe, “We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.” She followed that with an a capella tribute by Boyz II Men with their song ‘It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday’, and a display of his jerseys number 8 and 24.
She also gave a compelling performance of her new song, ‘Underdog’. Seamlessly interjecting it with conversation with her audience. And lastly, the return host had no qualms calling out the Recording Academy, saying “We refuse the old systems. We want to be respected and safe in our diversity. We want to be shifting to realness and inclusivity.” Keys ensured that Grammys 2020 were hosted without any hiccup.