Upset-Filled Grammy Pre-Telecast Gives Megan Thee Stallion, Fiona Apple, Billie Eilish, John Prine Early Wins
A Grammy pre-telecast “premiere ceremony” had most of the day’s awards being given out hours before the kickoff to the prime-time telecast, but left plenty of suspense about what would happen on the air, as all of the front-runners lost at least one award in the early going, and upsets ruled the afternoon.
Double winners in the afternoon included Fiona Apple, John Prine and Keytranada, none of whom are up for further awards later in the evening.
Meanwhile, some of the leading contenders for the big nighttime awards — Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Beyonce — all fell short of winning in at least one already-announced category, making those forthcoming top honors still difficult to predict.
Beyonce did win one award in the afternoon, though — for best rap performance for “Savage (Remix),” an honor she shared with Megan Thee Stallion, who showed up for a virtual acceptance speech in a state best described as beyond ecstatic.
“Thank you, Lord. God is the first person I want to thank,” said Megan, flush with excitement as screams were heard in the background. “Grandma, thank you,” she said, “for making me stop music to finish school.”
Apple, who did not show up virtually to accept her awards, won in two of the three categories where she was nominated, alternative album (“Fetch the Bolt Cutters”) and rock performance (“Shameika”). Apple did lose for best rock song, which went to a visibly flustered and delighted Brittany Howard.
The Strokes seemed like the most blase winners of the afternoon, when they first came on screen to accept an award for best rock album. Soon, though, it became evident that, in their pool room, they hadn’t actually heard the winner announced. “Who won? Did we win?” they asked after many seconds flew by. At that point, a champagne cork flew, even as they admitted, in winning for their “The New Abnormal” album, that “I feel like we could have won based on the name alone.”
An upset occurred in two out of three country categories. Vince Gill, who did not appear, won best country solo performance for “When My Amy Prays” over a crop of more widely favored women. The Highwomen’s Brandi Carlile accepted for her and Natalie Hemby’s “completely astounding” win for best country song for “Crowded Table,” in a category where another member of the group, Maren Morris, had also been up as a solo artist for “The Bones.”
Less unexpected was the big score in the country duo/group category by Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber, with the former duo accepting for “10,000 Hours” while protesting that they were literally shaking from the honor.
Ice-T, in accepting the metal award for his group Body Count, admitted that Grammy importance is something you brush off… until your name is called. “No no no!” he exulted. “We always say, ‘Grammys — whatever.’ (Then) I’m nominated? Oh God, wow. We won!”
Swift and Lipa were both nominated in the pop duo/group category, yet the award went to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, whose “Rain on Me” was otherwise stiffed for nominations, which could explain why they prevailed. here. Neither performer showed up to accept the award. Presenter Jimmy Jam stumbled over Grande’s name, then said, “Lord A Jesus! When I get her name right, I will go give this to her.”
Jam also promised to be a personal delivery service for another award, John Legend’s for best R&B album. “He actually lives right around the corner from me, so I’ll drop it off at his house… socially distanced of course,” Jam said.
Winning for contemporary blues, Fantastic Negrito was among the very few to refer to the pandemic. “I’m just thankful to be alive. This has been a rough rough time for everyone out here,” he said, asking for “a moment of silence for the half million that have passed” in America and millions more internationally. But he didn’t actually pause for any silence, lest the video team cut him off.
The first cuss word of the night came, just as you’d expect, at the hands of a bluegrass artist. “Holy shit,” blurted Billy Strings, the fastest rising young star of the genre.
Prine posthumously won in both American roots categories, performance and song, for his last recorded number, “I Remember Everything.” “To the fans, you span several generations now,” said Fiona, wife of the beloved singer/songwriter who died from COVID-19 last April, just a few months after getting a lifetime achievement salute on the previous Grammys. “Thank you for continuing to support John’s words and music in the world.” “We love and miss you, Dad,” added Jack Prine.
Another late legend who was expected to be a contender, Leonard Cohen, lost out for a posthumous release in the folk category to Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings.
Burna Boy might have won the award for most enthusiastic speech, as a crowd of supporters could be heard blowing out his microphone even from another room. Accepting for best global music album, he said, “This is a big win for my generation of Africans all over the world. No matter where you are, what you plan to do, you can achieve it, because you are a king. Look at me now… Grammy award winner Burna Boy.”
Winning in the musical theater album category for his arrangements of Alanis Morissette’s music for “Jagged Little Pill,” Tom Kitt spoke for the Broadway community in saying, “I can’t wait to be back on our stages with you again.”
Billie Eilish and Finneas made history for picking up the first song from visual media award given to a tune from a movie that has not been released yet. “No Time to Die” was also only the second James Bond theme song to win in that category, following Adele’s “Skyfall.” “It was a dream to make this,” Eilish said. “I have no words. I can’t believe this is real. I couldn’t believe it was real then.” Admitting that he was trying to come in under the 30-second speech limit, Finneas said, “Thank you Billie for writing this song with me. I feel lucky to be your brother.”
For a complete list of winners so far — which will be updated during the telecast, which begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 PT — click here.
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