The evening allegedly known as Music Biggest Night has passed. Yes, the 2023 Grammy Awards are in our rearview mirror — between some thrilling, record-breaking wins, performances that ranged from heart-pounding to entirely forgettable, and the wine flowing at the nominees table, the night ultimately felt like another year with the Recording Academy.
Awards shows like this are tough; while it’s always exciting to see people receive well-deserved accolades from peers in the industry, the Grammys also tend to feel a bit narrow when it comes to the incredibly vast scope of work people are doing across the industry. (To paraphrase an observation from Bong Joon-Ho about the Academy Awards, aren’t the Grammys a bit… local?)
Regardless, we dutifully tuned in to this year’s ceremony and have rounded up some of the highs, lows, and head-scratching moments from this year’s event. Check out our full analysis below, and review the list of winners here.
There were quite a few bright spots throughout the very lengthy telecast, with a major moment being the star-studded tribute to hip-hop. Dozens of music legends took the stage just past halfway through the ceremony for a fantastic medley celebrating 2023 as the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. The set, curated by Questlove of The Roots, boasted appearances from rap greats like Rakim, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Run DMC, Salt-N-Pepa, Public Enemy, Scarface, and De La Soul. Queen Latifah has never dropped her crown, and Busta Rhymes had everyone in the audience (and most of us at home) losing their minds with his iconic “Look at Me Now” verse. This actually felt like the kind of “can’t-miss” live television moments that are so rare in the era of streaming these days.
Similarly, Bad Bunny’s electrifying opening had everyone on their feet. If there’s one thing Taylor Swift is going to do at an awards show, it’s dance, but she was far from the only guest unable to remain in their seat as Benito ran through “El Apagon” and “Despues De La Playa.” (If only that energy had stayed up the rest of the night; at one point, Madonna had to nearly beg the crowd to cheer.) Overall, Bad Bunny is doing a lot of things few other entertainers are managing to do in 2023, and he’s crossing cultural and language barriers in the process. The opening number showed off the threshold at which he’s performing right now.
When it came to the awards themselves, the evening ended up a mixed bag, but one of the loveliest surprises of the night was 23-year old jazz artist Samara Joy’s win for Best New Artist. Her incredibly transportive voice and commitment to a bygone era stand out in this day and age, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
Then, there was the Beyoncé of it all. Let’s start with the good: With her win for Best Dance/Electronic Recording, Beyoncé officially made history by becoming the most decorated artist in Grammy history. That trophy was one of four added to her collection throughout the night — RENNAISSANCE won Best Dance/Electronic Album, while “CUFF IT” nabbed Best R&B Song, “Break My Soul” captured Best Dance/Electronic Recording, and “Plastic Off the Sofa” secured Best Traditional R&B Performance.
Her acceptance speech for the award that tipped her officially into most awarded territory was gracious and heartfelt, nearly making us forget that her arrival to the ceremony was slightly delayed. But, as The Princess Diaries taught us, a queen is never late. Everyone else is simply early.