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At the 2024 Grammys, Taylor Swift and Tracy Chapman Offer Surprises

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Taylor Swift on stage clutching a trophy. She is wearing a white flowing gown and long black gloves.
During Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Pop Vocal Album for ‘Midnights,’ the singer announced the release of her next album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department.’ (Kevin Winter/ Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

From blockbuster concert events like Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE and Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, to the massive hit in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, 2023 was “the year of the girl.” That streak continued at the 66th Grammy Awards, with young women artists who made their mark on the pop charts this past year dominating the major categories.

Seven out of eight artists nominated for the album of the year category are for albums by women artists under the age of 40: the rock group boygenius, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, Janelle Monáe, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift and SZA.

The outlier in that group is five-time Grammy winner Jon Batiste, who is nominated for six awards tonight and who took home the album of the year trophy in 2022 for We Are. But the category’s inclusion of women artists across the pop and R&B spectrum stands in stark contrast to candidates nominated last year, which included Latin pop star Bad Bunny, rock band Coldplay and a win by Harry Styles’ Harry’s House over Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE.

Tonight’s main event, hosted by comedian Trevor Noah, opened with a medley of two new songs performed by Dua Lipa — her recent single “Houdini” and the unreleased “Training Season,” both from her forthcoming studio album — sandwiching a snippet from her song from the Barbie soundtrack, “Dance the Night.”

In the first televised award presentation of the evening, Miley Cyrus won best pop solo performance for her song “Flowers.” As she noted a few minutes later during a raucous performance of the hit, it was her first-ever Grammy win. Cyrus took full advantage of the spotlight during the performance, ribbing the audience for not singing along to the song more at the start, and throwing her mic down at its end.

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Never one to be upstaged, Taylor Swift took her turn at the spotlight — while accepting her 13th career Grammy, this time for best pop vocal album — to let the audience and her fans in on a secret: she has a new album on the way, The Tortured Poets Department, dropping April 19.

The Grammys are notable (or infamous) for their unlikely live collaborations, but one of the most hotly anticipated joint performances of this year was Luke Combs and Tracy Chapman’s duet on Chapman’s song “Fast Car,” which Combs has brought back into the public eye. Chapman, who performed the song at the Grammys 35 years ago, when it was nominated for record and song of the year and she won best new artist along with two other prizes, was not announced as a performer.

Colombian singer and songwriter Karol G took home the award for best musica urbana album, for her albumMañana Será Bonito. “This is my first time at the Grammys, and this is my first time holding my own,” Karol G said during her acceptance speech.

SZA performed a duet of two of her hits: “Snooze” and “Kill Bill,” the first with a stage set featuring a literal dumpster fire, and the second with references to Quentin Tarantino’s films of the same name. Later, she won the Grammy for best R&B song for “Snooze,” thanking her family and team. “You don’t understand, I came really, really far, and it feels very fake,” she said during her emotional speech. “I’m not a very attractive crier.”

Billie Eilish performed her song “What Was I Made For?” from the Barbie soundtrack, which beat out three other cuts from the soundtrack (Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night,” Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken,” and Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice’s “Barbie World”) to win the Grammy for best song written for visual media earlier in the night. ”

Since there are actually 94 Grammy categories, most awards are presented hours before the televised ceremony. Among the winners in that pre-telecast ceremony were boygenius, the indie supergroup composed of singer-songwriters Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers, who took home three awards for best rock song, best rock performance and best alternative music album for its release the record. SZA, nominated for nine Grammys, the most of any artist, earned her first two in the best progressive R&B and best pop duo/group performance categories, the latter for “Ghost In The Machine,” featuring boygenius member Bridgers.

Killer Mike’s solo autobiographical album, Michael, and his first in more than a decade, won in three of the four rap categories, taking home best rap performance, best rap song and best rap album. The rapper was handcuffed and escorted out of the venue by police shortly before the televised ceremony, according to a report in Variety. When reached by NPR, the LAPD did not provide more information about reports of the arrest.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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