The Best, Worst, and Most Surprising Moments of the 2024 Grammys

8 minute read

The 2024 Grammy Awards took place Sunday night at the Arena in Los Angeles, with Trevor Noah returning to host for the fourth consecutive year. Following some recent ups and downs in the realm of awards show emceeing, the comedian stuck to his usual tone, politely poking fun at some of the night’s nominees but mostly serving as a hype man. He made jokes about Taylor Swift’s impact on local economies as she walked in from the red carpet and didn’t shy away from other big nominees like Olivia Rodrigo, 21 Savage, and Billie Eilish. 

It was a rainy day in southern California, but that didn’t put a damper on music’s biggest night. There was tough competition in the Big Four categories, with many watching to see whether Swift would break the record for most wins for Album of the Year. (She went into the night tied with Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, and Frank Sinatra, with three, and also announced a forthcoming new album, due in April.) In the end, Swift won the award, presented to her in a sweet surprise appearance by Celine Dion.

Other big winners included Miley Cyrus, who won two Grammys for "Flowers," SZA, who also won two awards for her work on SOS, Boygenius, whose three awards were handed out before the broadcast, and Best New Artist Victoria Monét.

As usual, the night was more about the performances (SZA, Olivia Rodrigo, U2, Fantasia, Joni Mitchell's first ever Grammy performance, Billy Joel's first new song in 17 years) than actually handing out awards. Dua Lipa opened the show with an undeniably electric performance, in which she debuted her new single “Training Season” before transitioning to her recently released “Houdini.” And, of course, a handful of Grammy Moments ™ were made.

First of many firsts: Miley Cyrus

“Flowers” was an undeniable hit, and the single received the first televised award of the evening as Miley Cyrus took home her first Grammy ever. Mariah Carey, who received a standing ovation as she took the stage, presented Cyrus with the golden gramophone for Best Pop Solo Performance for her 2023 hit. The 31-year-old pop star was thrilled to receive her award from Carey and, fittingly, told an anecdote about a butterfly. She also mentioned that she was stuck in traffic and almost missed the opportunity to accept her award in person, though she said she would have been more disappointed to have missed standing next to Carey.

Read more: Rapper Killer Mike Arrested at Grammy Awards After Sweeping Rap Categories

Most successful Grammy moment: Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs

Tracy Chapman took the stage, in a rumored but still surprising duet of her 1988 hit "Fast Car" with country artist Luke Combs. The performance received a standing ovation. Read more about the history behind the moment here.

Most historic (part 1): Karol G

Karol G accepts the Best Musica Urbana Album award during the 66th Annual Grammy AwardsValerie Macon—AFP/Getty Images

Karol G made history as the first woman to win in the Música Urbana category, in its third year of being awarded. Bad Bunny took home the inaugural prize in 2022 and 2023, when he won for Un Verano Sin Ti. Sunday night, the Colombian singer took the stage and accepted her award from presenters Christina Aguilera and Maluma. “This is my first time at [the] Grammys, and this is my first time holding my own Grammy,” she said. “I'm super happy, I'm super nervous, I'm super excited to be in front of so many legends that I admire and respect." She went on to acknowledge her fans, closing with: "I promise you to give you my best always, and I hope this is the first of so many."

Most endearing speech: SZA

Eyes have been focused on SZA since she became the most nominated artist of the 2024 Grammys. Lizzo presented the award for Best R&B Song to her close friend SZA for “Snooze.” A very frazzled SZA—she'd just finished performing and changing out of her on-stage outfit—ran to the stage and gave one of the most honest speeches of the night. “Lizzo and I have been friends since 2013, when we were both on a tiny Red Bull tour together,” SZA said. ”Opening up in small rooms for like a hundred people, and to be on the stage with her is so amazing. I’m so grateful.” She started to cry on stage, “I’m not an attractive crier,” the singer quipped before running off. She added, “I came really, really far, and I can’t believe this is happening.” She also took a moment to acknowledge Taylor Swift when she saw her in the audience: “Hi, Taylor. I love you.”

Biggest twist: Taylor Swift's album announcement

While accepting the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal, Taylor Swift announced a new album due April 19, The Tortured Poets Department. Many had been expecting Swift to announce that Reputation would be next up in her rerecording project. Read more about the new album here.

Unusually tasteful In Memoriam: Stevie Wonder, Jon Batiste, Annie Lennox, and Fantasia

This year’s In Memoriam segment featured tributes to legends lost in the last year. Stevie Wonder sang a touching tribute to one of his close friends and a duet partner, Tony Bennett, performing alongside a recording of the icon who died in July. Jon Batiste took the stage to memorialize the “Godfather of Black music,” music executive Clarence Avant, who died in August. Annie Lennox also delivered a passionate performance of “Nothing Compares 2 U” in honor of Sinead O’Connor. At the end of her song, Lennox called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. “Artists for cease-fire,” she said, calling to mind O’Connor’s own history as a performer who used major stages to advocate for what she believed in.

The “In Memoriam” segment ended with Oprah Winfrey introducing Fantasia Barrino, who gave a captivating rendition of “Proud Mary,” in a tribute to Tina Turner. She took the performance off the main stage and danced with Dua Lipa—and Beyoncé, who notably performed the song at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2005. The Color Purple actress showed off her high-energy talents with a dance-filled, sparkling performance.

Most legendary: Joni Mitchell

66th GRAMMY Awards - Show
Joni Mitchell, center, with Brandi Carlile, performing at the 2024 GrammysJC Olivera—WireImage/Getty Images

Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell performed at the Grammy Awards for the first time ever in her 56-year-long career. The icon, who recently turned 80, delivered a moving performance of “Both Sides Now” with the support of several musicians: Jacob Collier, Allison Russell, SistaStrings, Blake Mills, Lucius, and Brandi Carlisle—the last of whom also introduced Mitchell. The solemn performance moved many of the attendees to tears as the cameras panned to artists like Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé, who joined the crowd in jumping to their feet the moment Mitchell was done. Noah presented Mitchell with her Grammy award for Best Folk Album, which she won for Joni Mitchell at Newport (Live).

Most lackluster: Travis Scott

Travis Scott delivered an unfortunately dull performance of his songs “MY EYES,” “I KNOW?” and “FEIN,” the latter of which he had some help on, from Playboy Carti. In the wake of so many high-energy performances, delivered in particular by so many female artists tonight, Scott was not getting much of a response from the crowd or from viewers commenting on social media.

The internet quickly lit up with reactions to the UTOPIA rapper’s act on the Grammy’s stage. “Whatever Travis Scott just did over the airwaves, I rebuke it in the mighty name of JESUS,” one person tweeted. Another person wrote, “I don’t care about this Travis Scott performance.”

Sweetest metaphor: Victoria Monet's plant speech

Victoria Monet was one of Sunday night's most nominated artists and deservedly won Best New Artist, beating out major artists like Ice Spice, Noah Kahan and Jelly Roll. In her acceptance speech, she delivered a sweet metaphor to highlight the duration of her efforts to break through in the music industry as a songwriter for major artists—most notably Ariana Grande—and striving toward earning these kinds of awards. “I like to liken myself to a plant, who was planted, and you can look at the music industry as soil.... Today, I'm sprouting finally above ground,” she said during her acceptance speech.

Most historic (part 2): Taylor Swift breaks a major record

Taylor Swift made history after winning Album of the Year for her 2023 album Midnights. The pop star became the first person in Grammy history to win in this category four times. She was previously tied for three wins with Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, and Paul Simon. Read more about this historic win here.

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