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The Grammys 2024: breaking down a night of surprises

From personal performances to surprising victories, the 2024 Grammys was one to remember
The+Grammys+2024%3A+breaking+down+a+night+of+surprises
Jessie O’Koon

On February 4th, millions of people waited in front of a screen for the answers to all of their questions. Questions like “Who will have the album of the year?” (and why will it be Taylor Swift) and “Will that one underground rapper I’ve been bumping all year win a grammy?” (nope) or “Why did my favorite artist get a grammy before the show started?” (unlucky!). Whether you missed the show, or just want the news on your favorite artists, I got you covered.

Fifteen minutes into the show, we got one of the best moments of the night, when Luke Combs sang a duet of  “Fast Car” with Tracy Chapman. Before the surprise, Combs praised Chapman and expressed his excitement to be covering her song. As the performance began, the camera zoomed out, revealing Chapman herself on the stage. Seeing her perform was a huge highlight, and rare occurrence with her last tour being all the way back in 2009. Joni Mitchell’s performance was another heartwarming moment and something I was not expecting given her age of 80 years. She gave a sweet performance of “Both Sides Now,” alongside Brandi Carlile, who has called Mitchell her hero. 

Memorable moments also included SZA’s smooth performance of “Snooze,” and her hit song “Kill Bill,” where her dancers fought with katanas depicting the lyrics “I just killed my ex.” Olivia Rodrigo also made the spotlight with a bloody performance of “Vampire.”

Travis Scott later performed “My Eyes” and “I Know,” then brought Playboi Carti on set for his verse on “FE!N.” The sound cutting out to avoid broadcasting curses made the performance a little difficult to enjoy, but this wasn’t the main center of focus for viewers. Many commented that he seemed to be letting off some steam after his album lost, when he began throwing chairs across the set. While this was part of the performance, his line “They slept on me ten times!” pretty much confirmed his dissent towards the Grammys. This reaction came after Travis’s “Utopia” lost in the rap album of the year category to Killer Mike’s “Michael” in a highly debated decision. 

Was Travis Scott’s disappointment well founded? Scott’s history with the Grammys has been rough. This was his tenth time being nominated, yet he has zero wins to date. To add insult to injury, this is the second year when an album of his has lost in an unexpected outcome, following the loss of his album “Astroworld” to Cardi B’s “Invasion Of Privacy” back in 2019. It wouldn’t be wrong to say Travis was due for a win, but Killer Mike has been in the game for a long time. Mike’s presence in the industry ranges back to 2000, with his feature on “Stankonia” by Outkast, but he may be most well known for his albums as part of the duo “Run The Jewels” beginning in 2013. While he hasn’t had as many grammy losses as Scott, Mike has hardly gotten the recognition he deserves in the past.

Why then, do I think Travis Scott’s Utopia should have won? “Michael” is a well composed, and all around solid album, with some of the best rapping performances we’ve heard this past year, but sonically Travis has created something new with his album. “Utopia’s” production and the feelings it captured were unique, and tracks flowed seamlessly from one song into the next. From Playboi Carti, to Beyonce, to SZA, the features on Utopia made each song above and beyond. From his rapping on “Skitzo” to mellow vocals on “My Eyes,” Travis showed a great deal of range on this record, and probably deserved the win.

Still, I recommend giving Killer Mike a listen if you haven’t. His witty lyrics and flow really set him apart, and his song “Scientists & Engineers” with Andre 3000 was a banger. And let’s not forget Metro Boomin’s “Heroes & Villains,” which was the album I most expected to get the win. Its seamless synth heavy production, and the rhythmic beat patterns carried your energy through the project. The only thing going against this record was recency bias; it dropped in December of 2022, a decent amount of time before the other nominees.

 

Let’s get into some of the stand out wins of the night! Icelandic-Chinese artist Laufey won her first grammy for the traditional pop vocal album category with her second studio album “Bewitched.” The classical jazz instrumentals set a nostalgic, smooth tone throughout the project.

 

Boygenius–the group consisting of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus–won three Grammys, with alternative music album of the year for “the record,” as well as best rock song and rock performance for “Not Strong Enough.” I love the detailed chord progressions and vocal layering, especially on the tracks “$20” and “Satanist.”

SZA won three grammys this year. One for best urban contemporary album with “SOS,” one for best pop duo performance with “Ghosts in the Machine” along with Phoebe Bridgers, and best R&B song with “Snooze.”

Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” took album of the year, despite some strong competition with albums by Lana Del Rey, SZA and Olivia Rodrigo among others. I enjoyed a few tracks off the album including “Karma” and “Lavender Haze,” however I didn’t love the choice for album of the year. Most of the album wasn’t as well composed/mixed as “Evermore,” her 2020 release. Furthermore, I felt that some of the other nominees had some really strong albums. “Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” by Lana Del Rey carried a stronger message, and “the record” by Boygenius was more sonically pleasing than “Midnights.” SZA’s album was another potential winner, with one of the smoothest sounding albums of the year.

“I thought SZA should have won album of the year over Taylor Swift. I just liked the songs on SOS more than those on Midnights,” Shared junior Grace Cummins.

However we did get some special news during Swift’s acceptance speech, when she announced her new album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” which releases April 19.

Billie Eilish took song of the year for “What Was I Made For?” off the Barbie movie soundtrack. I was expecting “Kill Bill” or “A&W” to get the win, but it was a very pretty track, with the amazing quality of mixing and vocals we have come to expect of Eilish.

There were a few albums that the Grammys missed completely. “Gold” by Cleo Sol is one of the easiest listening records I’ve heard. Her vocals are super relaxing, and the simple production on the album accompanied them perfectly. If you need a little more energy but enjoy that slower flow of mumble rap, “Ganger” by Veeze is where it’s at. Tracks like “Not A Drill” and “Unreleased Leak” have great energy. If you like Lucki or Babyface Ray, give Veeze a listen.

And how could I forget… it wouldn’t be a complete grammy review without the best Comedy Album. Taking this one was none other than Dave Chapelle, for his performance “What’s in a Name?” But honestly, Chapelle should have gotten a Grammy for best feature after appearing on both “Utopia” and “Michael.” It’s no coincidence these were the top two rap albums of the year.

Overall, this year’s grammys were pretty solid. We got some special performances including Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell, Taylor Swift made history as the only artist to win album of the year four times, and most of the wins were well deserved. I hope you feel caught up, and there was a winner you were happy to see!

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About the Contributors
Jamie Brourman, Staff Writer
Jessie O’Koon, Artist
Hi! My name is Jessie O’Koon (she/her). I’m a sophmore, and I create art for The Evanstonian. I am excited to get involved in The Evanstonian as a way to further develop my artistic interests and meet new people. At ETHS, I am in the dance company. Outside of school, I enjoy dancing at my studio, drawing, painting, playing with my dog, and rooting for my favorite sports teams.
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