2021 Grammy Winners: Snubs and Surprises

Women swept the Big Four and Beyoncé made history in music’s big night.

The 63rd Grammy Awards took place on Sunday and looked a little different from previous ceremonies, with a small audience of masked, socially distanced guests sitting outdoors and a mix of crowdless live and pre-recorded performances. But as usual, while some of the winners were obvious guesses, others left viewers scratching their heads. Take a look at some of this year’s biggest snubs and surprises:


The K-pop band made history as the first South Korean group to be nominated for a major category at the Grammys. They received a nod for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Dynamite,” which they presented at the ceremony, but the prize went to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain On Me.” The BTS Army was, of course, disappointed with the results and got #scammys trending on Twitter. 

SURPRISE: Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish swept all the four big categories in 2020, and it seems that the Recording Academy voters are still very fond of her: this year, she took home the awards for Best Song Written for Visual Media for “No Time To Die” (from the still unreleased James Bond movie of the same name) and Record of the Year for “everything i wanted,” beating Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” Doja Cat’s “Say So,” and Beyoncé’s “Black Parade.” Eilish became the first artist ever to win Record of the Year twice before her 20th birthday and before a sophomore album release. 

SNUB: Phoebe Bridgers

Bridgers showed up in a glamorous version of her signature skeleton outfit but left the ceremony empty-handed. The artist did not win any of the four categories for which she was nominated – though if it was up to Elton John, it would have been a different story.


H.E.R.’s protest ballad “I Can’t Breathe” won Song of the Year, beating strong contenders such as Taylor Swift’s “cardigan,” Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” and Beyoncé’s “Black Parade.” The pertinence and substance of “I Can’t Breathe” made this a well-deserved win.

SNUB: Roddy Ricch

With six nods, Roddy Ricch was the most nominated male artist of the year – both “Rockstar” and “The Box” were running for Best Melodic Rap Performance and Best Rap Song – but was also shut out.

SURPRISE (but not really): Taylor Swift

Swift’s lauded quarantine album folklore was one of this year’s biggest runners, yielding the artist five of her six nominations (the other one was “Beautiful Ghosts,” a song she wrote for the “Cats” movie). So it didn’t come as a huge surprise when it won Album of the Year, making Swift the first female artist ever to win the coveted category three times. However, it was a little surprising that that was the only award she took home on Sunday. 

SNUBS: Triple nominees

Jhené Aiko was a host at the Premiere Ceremony, where most of the awards are handed out, but did not win in any of the three categories she was nominated for, including Best New Artist. Other triple nominees who didn’t get to take home a single Grammy this year were Drake, Doja Cat, Post Malone, and Black Pumas. 

SURPRISE: Robert Glasper

Glasper’s track “Better Than I Imagined,” featuring H.E.R. and Meshell Ndegeocello, beat more obvious bets like Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” and Chloe x Halle’s “Do It” for Best R&B Song. 

SNUB: Mickey Guyton

Guyton, who performed at the ceremony, was repeatedly praised by host Trevor Noah for her historic nomination for Best Country Solo Performance for “Black Like Me,” a first for any Black female artist in Grammys history. So it was a bit awkward that she didn’t get to take the prize home.  

SURPRISE: Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak’s “Lockdown” won Best Melodic Rap Performance, beating big hits like DaBaby’s “Rockstar” featuring Roddy Ricch, Ricch’s “The Box,” Travis Scott’s “Highest in the Room,” and Drake’s “Laugh Now, Cry Later.”

SNUB (sort of): Lady Gaga

Following her 2016 stripped-down, country album Joanne, Lady Gaga’s Chromatica saw the artist return to her flashy, surreal pop roots with a work of intergalactic grandeur that only received two nominations this year. It would have been nice to see it awarded as Best Pop Vocal Album but Dua Lipa’s seamless Future Nostalgia was a well-deserved, indisputable winner. (Gaga was seemingly unbothered, though: watching the ceremony from Italy, she tweeted she was “so honored just to be nominated!” and was already asleep by the time “Rain On Me” won.) 

(A nice) SURPRISE: Blue Ivy

At just nine years old, Blue Ivy is now officially a Grammy winner. She was awarded alongside Beyoncé for her participation in “Brown Skin Girl,” which won Best Music Video. With four trophies, Beyoncé was the evening’s biggest winner, followed by Megan Thee Stallion and Fiona Apple with three each, and Billie Eilish, H.E.R., and Kaytranada with two each. 

Check out the full list of winners on GRAMMY.com.

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