Just as the feared rainfall started in Los Angeles on Sunday (Feb. 4) — aka Grammys night — things inside the Crypto.com Arena were a bit sunnier as artists, composers, producers and more started to accept the first wins of the night.
And throughout the action-packed night — during which Grammy winner Taylor Swift announced a new album while accepting her trophy, Miley Cyrus scored her first win (“Flowers” took home best pop solo performance) and more — Billboard was positioned on the red carpet, backstage and in the audience to report on all things behind the scenes.
Read on for everything you didn’t see on TV. (All times in PT.)
1:05: A soft yet communal gasp is heard backstage when Billie Eilish and Finneas accept their pre-show award for best song written for visual media with “What Was I Made For?” from Barbie. Equally surprised was Eilish herself, saying: “This was shocking to me… I was expecting to turn right around and leave… I am in awe, I feel so grateful every second of my life to do everything that I do… Thank you to Greta [Gerwig] for making the most empowering movie and Margo for being so amazing. Making this song saved me a little bit.”
1:20: Lostboy (winner, best pop dance recording, “Padam Padam”) says the weirdest place he has heard Kylie Minogue’s hit song was at a funeral: “It’s quite dark… [It’s the kind of setting where if] you’re not laughing, you’re crying,” he says.
1:28: Brandon Davis and George Drakoulis from Barbie talk about the film’s success… “I don’t think you can [soak in the success],” says Drakoulis. “It’s become ubiquitous. I remember I was in New York a couple weeks after it opened and kids were going in their pink outfits… We haven’t had a monoculture in a long time so it’s been great to have everybody rally around something…We made a real effort to make sure the musical experience was as exciting or as heartfelt as the film.” When asked how the team scored the amazing collaborators on the album – including Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish and Finneas, Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice and more – Drakoulis has a simple answer: “Nobody said, ‘No.’” Davis added the early investment from artists who were seeing footage early and sitting with Greta, “It was that time spent investing and understanding the movie that really allowed people to write the perfect songs for the picture.”
1:58: Seven-time Grammy nominee Victoria Monét secures her first win of the night with best engineered album, non-classical for Jaguar II – and five of the six winners come backstage to celebrate. As for the sixth winner, Monét herself, her engineers assure the room they FaceTimed her a bit earlier: “She’s super excited… this is a great start to the day.”
2:27: Boygenius runs up to the stage – in matching off-white suits – to accept their first win of the night for best rock performance with “Not Strong Enough.” Member Lucy Dacus says, “We were all delusional enough as kids to think this might happen one day…” to which member Julien Baker adds: “This band is my family.” Minutes later, the trio (which also includes Phoebe Bridgers) returns to accept a second win for best rock song with the same track and soon after come back to accept alternative music album with The Record.
2:33: Jason Isbell enters the press room to celebrate his first two Grammys of the night (for best American roots song with “Cast Iron Skillet” and best Americana album with Weathervanes). When asked about his performance this weekend at the MusiCares concert honoring Bon Jovi – during which he covered “Wanted Dead Or Alive” alongside Bruce Springsteen” – Isbell called the song the ultimate Americana track from Bon Jovi’s discography. At the same time, on the pre-show, Paramore wins its first Grammy for best alternative music performance with “This Is Why.”
2:48: Theron Thomas, who earlier in the day took home the second-ever award for songwriter of the year (a category that was introduced at the 2023 ceremony), speaks about the category’s continued historic streak, saying: “I’m the first Black person to win…I just made history and it was very important. My dad told me when I was 9 I was going to do this – they had to create an award for somebody as special as myself.”
3:02: Killer Mike comes backstage holding his three Grammys – and has plenty to say. “It feels absolutely grand and I want to encourage people out there to chase their dream…If it feels like you’re slow, just keep running your race…The only limitation you have is your imagination. For 20 years I’ve been saying, ‘I can do it. I can do it. I can do it.’ And in [my] 20th year of hip-hop, here I am doing it…I remember being in the 4th grade, they said it wouldn’t last two years. I remember being in 8th grade and they said it wasn’t a real artform. I remember being in 12th grade and my homeroom teacher telling me it would never happen. And here we are. The only thing that limits you is you. At 20 years old I thought it was cool to be a drug dealer. At 40 years old I started to live with regrets. At 45 I started to rap about it, at 48 years old I stand here a man with empathy and sympathy for the things I’ve done…and I’m grateful to be holding these [awards] today.”
3:09: Laufey comes backstage after performing on – and winning an award – during the preshow. And while she’s thrilled about recent events, she’s most proud of what her music has inspired: “I grew up singing jazz standards and loving jazz music and I felt a little bit alone in it, but I noticed that no one really hated it either, so I made it a goal to create a community of an audience that likes this kind of music and I think that’s been the biggest gift in this process, finding like-minded people.” Of all of those people, she was asked who might be the most surprising person to have reached out so far, to which she was quick to reply: “Jack Harlow.”
3:13: Soon after winning the first award for best African music performance (for her hit “Water”), Tyla comes backstage to celebrate the historic moment. “Everything that’s been happening has shocked me, honestly,” she says. “I feel like God called me to do this, so that peace is in me, but the fact that this is happening…Grammy nomination, Billboard Hot 100, it just keeps piling on and I’m just excited.” She then teased that the best could be yet to come: “My debut album drops in March,” she says. “I’ve been working on it for over two years now. My album is an introduction of myself and my sound and there’s a lot of bangers on there, just like “Water,” and even better ones.”
3:39: Winning best album notes (for Written in Their Soul: The Stax Songwriter Demos) was a particularly proud moment for Deanie Parker. “I started working at Stax as a junior in high school,” she shares, “and I thought that I knew it all. But this project has been extremely revealing.”
3:53: Brandy Clark wins her long-awaited first Grammy for best Americana performance with “Dear Insecurity,” which features Brandi Carlile. But, as she shares backstage, Carlile wasn’t originally intended to be on the track: “When we were in the studio she was the one who suggested we turn it into a duet and I loved that idea, and she said, ‘I think we should get someone like Lucinda Williams to sing it with you, I’ll sing the [demo].’ Brandi started singing it and when we came in together on that chorus, it really felt like magic to me. So then I had the task of talking Brandi into it because she had been really adamant that she not be the feature, but she felt that same magic.”
4:05: Jack Antonoff wins producer of the year, non-classical, for the third year – and brings engineers Laura Sisk and Oli Jacobs onstage with him (along with a beige tote bag he clutches rather tightly). About 40 minutes later, he’s backstage – and affirming that winning in this category will never get old. “I’m more and more shocked. You know, it’s not like a huge decision because you make [something] and then people you work with say, ‘Do you want to throw this into the pool’ and you’re proud of it and you say yeah and then when you see your name come up…Anyone who tells you they’re used to it, I think [they’re] completely full of it. Laura, Oli, the Bleachers guys, the people who are in the studio every day…We’re so focused on the future. We’re so focused on what we’re doing. We don’t sit around and then talk about the past. You just don’t, because we’re mixing something to sound a certain way. We’re writing something. We’re touring, literally, like, moving forward. The bus doesn’t go in reverse often. And so in my life, there’s very little looking back. And so on days like today, I feel like I’m hit by a sentimental boulder.” Antonoff was also asked about his feelings about Universal Music Group removing its roster’s music from TikTok, to which he replied: “I’d like it to go back up… You’ve got a whole industry like, ‘You’ve got to do everything’ and then one day it’s like, ‘Poof.’ As an artist, you can’t get used to getting paid less, which they try to get you used to. But I think it’s ass backwards. Is that the one that’s going to make the news?”
5:51: Lil Durk speaks about representing Chicago with his first Grammy win, saying “I’m definitely shocked, but appreciate it every step of the way, too…It was a goal for me, so it means a lot. My biggest thing is to keep coming every year, hopefully.”
5:56: Karol G celebrates her first Grammy win as the sound from the live debut of Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers” bleeds into backstage. “I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I never thought were going to happen to me,” says Karol. “So my mind is still getting new ideas, new visions, it’s open to more, more, more. I just want to keep working super hard, and I’m going to have God surprise me…Many times before, I would watch all of this on the other side of the TV and I would ask myself how it could ever be possible for me to be there one day and for them to recognize my name and my music and sell tickets around the world. I found a way to do what I wanted to do. I feel very proud to be here, to recognize that the limits are only in our head, to represent my Latin community all over the world, women and my country Colombia, it’s the most important thing for me, for them to feel proud of me.” Karol G also shared this piece of advice for anyone else hoping to cut through: “Social media teaches you all the time to be similar to everybody: how you have to look, how you have to speak, what you have to wear, what you have to do. Just believe in yourself. Everybody has their own gift. So represent yours, embrace it and go out and be yourself. You’re going to have more attention if you’re different than if you are the same as the rest of the people.”
6:35: After winning her first Grammy, Lainey Wilson shares that she FaceTimed her entire family backstage. “I’m on Cloud 9,” she says. “And even though I’ve been at this a long time, I’ve been in Nashville for 13 years, for some crazy reason, it still feels like tonight is the beginning. ”As a little girl, you sit in front of the TV And you watch the Grammys and you think about being a part of something like this. And you think about, ‘Man, how cool would it be to be friends with the people in the crowd and to have some mentors in the crowd of people that you can go to. Because this business is crazy. And I did look around tonight, and I found a lot of people, not just in country music, who I can go to and I can ask questions. Tonight I feel the love. I feel the support from everybody. And like I’ve said before, I don’t know if every artist gets to feel this genuine support, but I feel it to my core.”
7:31: Ludwig Goransson, who was competing against himself in the category of best score soundtrack for visual media (includes film and television) for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Oppenheimer ended up winning for the latter. “At this Grammy Awards being nominated with Christopher Nolan and also Ryan Coogler for Black Panther and “Lift me Up,” it’s just such an incredible time for me because I love writing music with film, and I love writing music with artists. And it’s such a great feeling to be able to celebrate both of those worlds that I’m working in at the same event…Music has always been a place where you can create your own world or go to different worlds or dream away from where you are at the moment, and that’s very close to cinema…And what I love is to combine both of those art forms…that’s that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. That’s why I’m here.”
7:57: As the bass from Burna Boy’s historic Grammys performance vibrates throughout backstage, songwriter Khris Riddick-Tynes was celebrating his win for best R&B song with SZA’s “Snooze.” He calls SZA “an amazing truth teller. She has the ability to tell the truth in a way that just hits everybody’s heart and, you know, she’s the juice and we’re just there to support that.”
8:04 :Backstage erupts in applause as Victoria Monet wins best new artist.
8:31: Slow claps can be heard backstage as Trevor Noah announces that Taylor Swift – having just won album of the year for Midnights – becomes the first artist to ever win the category four times.
8:36: After the ceremony wraps, Coco Jones is the first artist to come backstage to celebrate her win for best R&B performance with “ICU,” saying this win is right on time. “All of the uncertainty can be answered by God’s timing for you,” she says. “I’ve been pursuing this since I was 9 and to reap the benefits at this time makes way more sense than I could have ever imagined…I’m very transparent about my journey… I have to be the inspiration for the next young Black girl because that’s what I was looking for…I’ll do my best to open more doors for women like me.”
8:54: Billie Eilish and Finneas took home song of the year for the second time, with their Barbie hit “What Was I Made For?” The superstar siblings have started to tease a new album, and backstage reveal that this song in particular is what helped to get them back on track: “We had really been writing absolutely nothing before we had that opportunity to write for Barbie,” says Eilish. “We had been working three days a week and not coming up with stuff. And even if we were coming up with stuff, it just didn’t feel right. Didn’t feel good. Didn’t feel real. And I got really worried. I got nervous. I felt like it was gonna be over, a little bit. I was in a really dark place and it’s kind of hard to think back to it, but Greta came to us and she offered us this life changing thing that we didn’t really realize was gonna be life changing like that. And we wrote that song 24 hours after we saw the movie, and we wrote it in under two hours, if not one hour. And honestly, from then on, we were just creative again. It woke us up and got us back on our thing.”
9:07: After winning three Grammys tonight, boygenius spoke on the recently-announced hiatus while backstage, saying this feels like a fitting end point. “I guess we just didn’t tell anybody, but we told each other at the beginning of this project that it would have a finite date, like a finite amount of time devoted to it. And we completed that time, and now we walk into the sunset,” says member Phoebe Bridgers. Julien Baker adds, “It feels nice to have a cap on what we’ve done.”
9:44: Victoria Monet closes out the evening, coming backstage to celebrate her best new artist win. She reflected on what she said in her acceptance speech, about this win being a “15-year pursuit,” adding backstage: “ I think the only thing that you can hold on to when pursuing something for this long is the fact that you actually really love to do it,” she says. “I genuinely love making music and doing it with the people that I do it with. So that’s been my determining factor on whether I should stop or keep going and because of the people around me and the camaraderie within us and the creativity we feel together, I feel so honored to be on this journey with everyone who is a part of my music so I have so many thank yous to give out. I don’t know what the heck I said during my speech, but I have so many more thank yous to give.”
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