2021 Grammy’s performances entice viewers as interest in show depletes

The 63rd Annual Grammys Award ceremony was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  Billie Eilish's

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

The 63rd Annual Grammys Award ceremony was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted” won record of the year.

The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards aired March 14, and as with most award shows in COVID times, the Grammys adapted their usual format to a coronavirus-cautious version. Host Trevor Noah explained in his opening remarks that the Grammys were taking place at an outdoor venue and the performances were happening in a separate area with no audiences. 

The nominees in attendance all wore face coverings to adhere to pandemic precautions. Some even had face coverings that seamlessly matched their outfits, most notably being Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Megan Thee Stallion, Beyonce, Doja Cat and Ingrid Andress. During the show, nominees appeared to only take off their masks when accepting an award. 

With this new format fit for television, the Grammys were geared more towards the viewer rather than in past years, where the acceptance speeches and performances were geared towards the in-person audience. Noah and other performers like Bad Bunny, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion were locked into the camera, making for an entertaining show to watch from home. 

In years past, there was concern for awards shows because of low TV ratings and questions of how to get viewers more interested in tuning in. Coronavirus may have been their saving grace. 

In a year without concerts, the Grammys capitalized on the public’s yearning for some normalcy and the chance to see their favorite performers. With artists in many genres of music performing, the Grammys seems to have engaged more with many different audiences. 

Heartthrob Harry Styles was the opening performer with his hit song “Watermelon Sugar.” Within the hour, there were TikToks and tweets gushing over his performance and outfit. Styles went on to win Best Pop Solo Performance for “Watermelon Sugar.” This is his first Grammy award and nomination as a solo artist. 

Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s performance of “WAP”  was the first time the song had been performed live. Moments like this were very powerful for the Grammys to be able to use in getting viewers excited and raising ratings. 

With awards shows taking a hit the past few years due to decreased interest and a shift towards streaming platforms over traditional cable, it is hard to gauge how interested people actually are in watching them. Nowadays, it is easier to get a recap on social media or news apps rather than sit and watch the whole show, or better yet, try and figure out if you can watch the show through the streaming platforms you have. 

The Grammys traditionally air on CBS, which is available with an antenna for local stations, cable, CBS’s streaming service Paramount+ and with a premium live TV Hulu subscription. With cable subscriptions declining among young adults, the Grammys will have to soon address a way to engage with young adults who do not have an easy way to watch the show. 

Though the future is uncertain for awards shows in general, music and the arts were a big part of getting people through the pandemic and regular life. Arguably, the arts will never go out of style, but traditional awards shows could find themselves on a downward spiral of low ratings.