LOS ANGELES (TND) — Pop megastar and pop culture juggernaut Taylor Swift made history at the 66th Grammy Awards Sunday night by becoming the first artist in history to win the coveted "Album of the Year" award four times.
Swift, 34, had already entered a rarified club in 2021 when she won her third prize in the category for her album "Folklore," joining the ranks of Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder as the only artists to achieve such an industry hat trick.
"I would love to tell you this is the best moment of my life, but I feel this happy when I finish a song or cracking the code to a bridge that I love, or shot listing a music video," Swift said in her acceptance speech. "For me, the award is the work and I love it so much."
The 2023 Time Person of the Year made quite the stir earlier in the night as well when, upon winning the Grammy for "Best Pop Vocal Album," her 13th overall, she announced the release of her 11th studio album, "The Tortured Poets Department."
The ceremony was, for many in the industry, a remarkable turnaround from 2019 when then-Recording Academy Chair Neil Portnow said that women need to "step up" in response to widespread criticism of the continued male-domination of the top awards and the hashtag "#GrammysSoMale" (and echo of a hashtag used frequently around the 2015 Oscars, the infamous "#oscarssowhite"). Not only did women win all nine of the awards presented on stage during the primetime telecast Sunday night -- including sweeping the top four categories of Album, Song and Record of the Year and Best New Artist -- but also anchored memorable performances that brought significant weight to awards show format in 2024.
One of the runaway hits of 2023 was country star Luke Combs' revival of Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car," a cover he recorded for his own joy for his most recent album. The song, an always contemporary story of chasing dwindling dreams in the face of the inescapable pitfalls of life, re-entered the public conscious, hit number one of the Billboard country charts and netted the CMA's "Song of the Year" award. Chapman also became the first Black woman to win that prize. While only Combs was billed to play the song during Sunday night's ceremony telecast from the Crytpo.com Arena, Chapman's surprise appearance during the performance was not unexpected (under previous broadcast productions, it would have been a "Grammys moment," pairing the elder with the hot young star). As the curtain lifted and Chapman was revealed, the arena burst into thundering applause, which subdued for the performance itself, a joyous celebration of the song itself.
The other major, if not peak, performance of the night came near the end, when the legendary folk rock singer Joni Mitchell made her Grammys debut (she has won 11 awards but never performed on the telecast), performing her song "Both Sides Now" accompanied by a bevy of disciples like the band Lucius, singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, and gender-bending cello-violin duo SistaStrings. Mitchell's performance carried a lot of weight, not just because she is arguably one of the finest American singer-songwriters and performers alive, but because of the journey it took her to get there.
While she withdrew from the music industry, as well as writing and recording new songs, in 2009, a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2015 forced her to have to relearn how to sing, on top of walk and talk. For her performance, sitting on a gilded and plush, throne-like chair, Mitchell's influence and still titanic abilities as an artist were reflected in the emotions stirred by her song: as the cameras cut to the faces of generations of performers, from Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa to Beyonce, no one could hide the tears welling in their eyes.
The other legacy act came from that prince of Long Island, Billy Joel, who performed "Turn the Lights Back On," his first new song in 30 years (he wrote another, "Christmas in Fallujah" in 2007, but had another artist sing it). He also closed out the show with a rousing version of his perennial favorite "You May Be Right."
R&B powerhouse SZA led the nominations Sunday with nine awards and won three for "Best R&B Song" for "Snooze," "Best Progressive R&B Album" for "SOS," and "Best Pop Duo/Group Performance" for "Ghost in the Machine." That last one was significant has it helped another woman, indie rock singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers end up taking home the most awards at the end of the night. While one was from her work as a solo artist collaborating with SZA, and the other three -- "Best Alterantive Music Album," "Best Rock Song" and "Best Rock Performance" for her work as part of the indie rock supergroup boygenius, which also features Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker.
Child star-turned pop agitator Miley Cyrus also made history Sunday night by winning her first Grammys ever, including "Song of the Year," for her single "Flowers." Pop diva and unofficial Christmas music queen Mariah Carey presented Cyrus with her first award, which also happened to be the first award of the night, "Best Pop Solo Performance."
"This MC is going to stand by this MC for this, because this is just too iconic," Cyrus said during that acceptance speech for that award. Later, during her "Record of the Year" speech for the same song, Cyrus said, "I hope this doesn't change anything because my life was beautiful, yesterday."
The day was marked by controversy as rapper and activist Killer Mike, who swept three of the four top prizes for rap, was detained by Crypto.com Arena security for a "misdemeanor offense." The Los Angeles Police Department stated on X, formerly Twitter, that Michael Render (the emcee's real name) was booked for a misdemeanor battery and released.
Check out our fully gallery of Grammy photos here.