GOSSIP & RUMORS: Grammys 2024 best and worst moments — from Joni Mitchell and Billie Eilish to Miley Cyrus
It only took 56 years after her debut album, 1968’s “Song to a Seagull,” but folk goddess Joni Mitchell finally made her long-overdue Grammys debut playing at the award ceremony Sunday night.
And if you’re still scratching your head about how it is even possible that Joni Freaking Mitchell — who represents all that is musical excellence —had never performed on music’s biggest night, you certainly wouldn’t be the only one.
After the 80-year-old icon had won her 10th gramophone — Best Folk Album for her 2023 LP “Joni Mitchell at Newport [Live]” — earlier in the night, she took the stage at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles to bless us with a chilling, crushing version of her 1969 classic “Both Sides, Now.”
No one who witnessed it will soon forget a Mitchell tapping her cane from her throne of a chair, as if to keep time with the rhythm of her soul.
It was a performance, a moment, that will go down in Grammy history.
So much so that it overshadowed every other moment on what was easily one of the best Grammys in recent memory, including when Taylor Swift — one of Mitchell’s modern-day descendants — made history as the first artist to win Album of the Year four times for her 2022 blockbuster “Midnights.”
Fittingly, the whole night was ruled by generations of women whose minds and musical visions were set free by Godmother Joni.
From Victoria Monét, the R&B singer-songwriter who upset country sensation Jelly Roll for Best New Artist 10 years after releasing Monét’s debut EP (“Nightmares & Lullabies: Act 1”) to Billie Eilish, who won her second Song of the Year Grammy for her “Barbie” ballad, “What Was I Made For?,” it was ladies’ night.
But there is still work to be done for some women — especially women of color.
When Jay-Z accepted the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award with daughter Blue Ivy, he took the opportunity to call out the Recording Academy for never awarding wife Beyoncé with Album of the Year, not even for “Renaissance” last year.
“Think about that: The most Grammys. Never won Album of the Year. That doesn’t work,” he said.
From the rapper with a wicked way with words, that was a whole word.
Although Mitchell was impossible to beat, here are some other best —and worst — moments from music’s biggest night.
BEST: Luke Combs and Tracy Chapman
All the feels — and chills — when Tracy Chapman took the stage to start off “Fast Car” with country sensation Luke Combs — 26 years after the folk-pop singer released the song that the country sensation turned into an even bigger hit in 2023.
It was one of those perfect Grammy moments that, as just the second performance, was an early peak in the show.
While “Fast Car” didn’t win either Record or Song of the Year when it was nominated back in 1989 — it lost both to Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” — the love that 59-year-old Chapman felt in the room from Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey and Combs himself must have felt a lot like sweet victory in and of itself.
It’s a crime that leading nominee SZA didn’t win any of the three Big 4 awards for which she was nominated.
But her medley of “SOS” hits “Snooze” and “Kill Bill” — which had her making like a badass Uma Thurman — simply slayed.
Even Quentin Tarantino couldn’t have envisioned this massacre of the stage on music’s biggest night.
BEST: Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish can seriously do no wrong.
Singing her haunting “Barbie” ballad “What Was I Made For?” — which went on to win her a second Song of the Year Grammy — not only did she deliver one of the most achingly beautiful vocals you’ll ever hear live — with her producer/co-writer brother Finneas providing stripped-down accompaniment on piano — but she wore an iconic ’60s fit worn by the doll.
Her No. 1 smash would nab her second gramophone later for Record of the Year.
I’m glad you got your “Flowers,” girl, but save that cheesy, Vegas-y celebration for the after-party.
Her attempt to channel Tina Turner at the end kind of wilted more than rocked. (See Fantasia Barrino’s later ode to Turner, which was much better.)
With all of the worthy nominees who would have loved to have their moment on the Grammy stage, was it really worth it having U2 beam in from Los Vegas in the first televised performance from the out-of-this-world Sphere venue?
As much as we adore Bono and his boys, having them perform their 2023 single “Atomic City,” which wasn’t even nominated, just didn’t make sense.
I mean, at least play a damn classic rather than a song most people haven’t even heard.
Best/Worst: In Memoriam tributes to Tony Bennett, Sinéad O’Connor and Tina Turner
Everybody—and I mean everybody—loves Stevie Wonder.
But his Tony Bennett tribute with “For Once in My Life” that kicked off the In Memoriam segment was no match for Annie Lennox’s chilling, crushing version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” in honor of Sinéad O’Connor.
Fantasia Barrino may not have received an Oscar nomination for “The Color Purple,” but she scored perhaps an even higher honor: the chance to salute the legendary Tina Turner in a rousing rendition of the Ike & Tina classic “Proud Mary” that indeed did the artist born Anna Mae Bullock proud.
And she got the ultimate intro from “Color Purple” producer Oprah Winfrey.
WORST: Travis Scott
The rapper’s medley of “My Eyes,” “I Know?” and “FE!N” from his hit album “Utopia” was all moody mess.
Shrouded in shadows for much of his performance, he failed to connect with his vibe-y vision that never came to life.
And with his performance coming late in the show — after a stellar string of numbers that were no doubt hard to top — it all felt way too sleepy at the late hour.