Music’s biggest night is always sure to keep audiences and artists alike on their toes year after year. Between historic wins, snubs, incredible performances, nostalgic nods to the past, and a look ahead at the future, this year’s Grammy Awards certainly did not disappoint. Icons Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell joined forces with fellow artists to perform their respective songs onstage in a breathtaking moment, Kacey Musgraves made country music history by securing another win, Taylor Swift broke the record for most Album of the Year awards ever granted to an individual, and Miley Cyrus finally got her flowers from the Recording Academy–literally. If you didn’t catch the jam-packed awards ceremony, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a recap!
Read on for some of the night’s most surprising and notable moments.
Kacey Musgraves breaks country records
Now a seven-time Grammy winner, country icon Kacey Musgraves made history as the first-ever artist to win all four country awards at the Grammys–Best Country Song, Best Country Album, Best Country Solo Performance, and now Best Country Duo/Group Performance for her chart-topping duet “I Remember Everything” with Zach Bryan. While the Golden Hour singer didn’t perform at the ceremony this time around, she signaled that she’s gearing up for a new era by giving fans a sneak peek at her new album with a teaser trailer that aired during commercial breaks. The clip was shortly posted to her Instagram during the show with the caption “I found a deeper well”–rumored to be the album name–as well as two additional posts seemingly containing lyrics from the upcoming project.
Tracy Chapman’s unannounced performance with Luke Combs
At the 1989 Grammy Awards, Tracy Chapman was nominated for six awards–including all four major categories–for her hit genre-bending song “Fast Car” and went on to take home three trophies for Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Contemporary Folk Recording. 35 years later, “Fast Car” has proved itself to be a classic that transcends genres, generations, and cultures. This was further solidified when Luke Combs’ country cover of the track topped the charts and won Song of the Year at the Country Music Awards, making Chapman the first ever Black songwriter to win the coveted award at the CMAs. Combs was slated to perform his hit cover at the Grammys, but Chapman’s appearance was a surprise to audiences. The iconic artist rarely performs live in recent years and hasn’t toured in over a decade, but you’d never know it–her confident, radiant demeanor and relaxed presence onstage was as if she performed live every day. As she and Combs alternated verses, he gazed at Chapman with what can only be described as sheer pride and admiration in a beautiful, unifying moment for music lovers everywhere.
Joni Mitchell makes her debut Grammy performance at 80
Few have achieved what the legendary Joni Mitchell has throughout her wide-spanning, illustrious career in the music industry. But despite receiving 18 Grammy nominations and winning 10 awards, she has yet to perform at music’s biggest night until now. Singing a stunning rendition of her iconic folk ballad “Both Sides Now,” Mitchell captivated the audience, transporting them through time for a brief but wonderful three minutes. Similar to Chapman and Combs’ performance, Mitchell’s was both nostalgic and unifying–fellow artists Brandi Carlile, Allison Russell, Jacob Collier, Lucius, Sista Strings, and Blake Mills backed up Mitchell onstage, a testament to her historical significance and legacy in the industry.
Miley Cyrus wins her first-ever Grammy
Miley Cyrus has been in the entertainment industry for nearly two decades, navigating the often turbulent transition from Disney child star to successful solo musician in front of the world. Following the release of her acclaimed eighth studio album Endless Summer Vacation, she’s had her biggest year yet–the album’s lead single “Flowers” broke the Spotify record for the most streamed song in a single week and became her first #1 entry on the Billboard Global 200 chart in January. The Grammys recognized her massive success with six nominations, including all three major categories of Record, Song, and Album of the Year. Cyrus went on to win Best Pop Solo Performance and Record of the Year, marking the first-ever Grammy scores in her career. Between her two wins, she debuted the live television performance of “Flowers,” cementing her status as one of this generation’s most captivating live performers. It took almost 20 years, but Miley Cyrus finally got her flowers.
Jay-Z calls out the Grammy Awards’ racial bias
In another surprise moment, Jay-Z accepted the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award with daughter Blue Ivy Carter standing onstage next to him. But his speech didn’t hold back on criticism of the Recording Academy–he referenced longtime accusations of racial bias on the part of the Grammy Awards, pointing out that Black women like his wife, Beyoncé, have been routinely excluded in the major categories. Beyoncé is the most awarded artist of all time, but the vast majority of her wins have been in R&B and urban contemporary categories–she has yet to win a single award for Album of the Year.
Billie Eilish wins Song of the Year
Billie Eilish won her second Song of the Year award for “What Was I Made For?,” her incredible ballad for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie soundtrack. Although the win wasn’t a massive surprise in itself–the vulnerable song truly was the soundtrack for 2023, more specifically the summer of Barbie–Eilish made history as only the second woman, along with Adele, to take home the Song of the Year trophy twice. She also gave an incredible, stripped-down performance of the track with her brother and co-writer Finneas on the piano as she passionately sang the lyrics, clearly feeling each word deeply and becoming visibly emotional.
Taylor Swift makes history with most Album of the Year wins
It’s no secret that Taylor Swift is a global phenomenon. Having previously won the coveted Album of the Year award three times, she already held more wins in the category than any female artist. But in a year with extremely stiff competition, audiences weren’t positive who would come out on top. Clearly, neither was Swift herself after winning the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album, she made the shocking decision to announce her brand-new album on April 19 onstage while accepting the award. But in a history-making moment, she won her second award of the night with Midnights and became the first artist to ever win AOTY four times. In a euphoric moment, she rose to her highest level of success yet–and she’s only getting bigger and better.