It has long been said that music is a universal language. Following two years of global isolation, it is then no wonder that an institution like the Grammy Awards would come back. Being the standard for what sonic globalisation looks like, the celebration often gives viewers a chance to learn of artists they’d never pay attention to otherwise. Now in its 64th iteration, the awards reminded us that musical creation has been happening while we lived our insular lives.
Perhaps the best testament to the uniting power of music is that international recorded music revenues rose to $25.9bn in 2021, marking 18.5 percent growth, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). The inextricable relationship between fashion and music took centre stage once again as chart toppers sought to turn heads. However, unlike other ceremonies where reputation precedes fashion choices, the Grammy Awards red carpet is known to be a hodgepodge of eccentricities. The 2022 carpet appearances did not disappoint.
Lady Gaga went classic with a custom black and white ball gown by Armani Privé. Lenny Kravitz, a regular face on the carpet for some 30 years now, donned a chainmail top paired with sleek, pleather trousers and knee-high heels. The 57-year old vegan joined a pearl-clad Lil Nas X in showing off toned physiques. RnB songstress SZA channelled a floral deity and didn’t let using crutches stop her from appearing on the carpet. Rapper, Saweetie beamed in neon pink along with Tony and Emmy award winner Billy Porter while 2021 Grammy winner Megan Thee Stallion took the safari to the carpet in an animal print Roberto Cavalli gown.
Where the red carpet offered a feast for the eyes, the live performances were a journey across the many genres represented. Korean super group, BTS, reimagined their song titled Butter, while Justin Beiber, Giveon and Daniel Caesar brought summer back with a performance of Peaches. Silk Sonic, the RnB duo comprising Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars, rained down the luck belting 777; and H.E.R. joined legends Lenny Kravitz and Travis Barker for an electrifying rock performance.
While live concerts and tours were put on hold due to the pandemic, listeners have been supporting their favourite artists and yearning to see them perform again. This has been evident with Gaborone having been host to a number of iconic live performances of late. With the crowds that have been congregating to cheer on artists, watching the Grammys could have made one wonder what it would look like if artists like Franco and Makhadzi – having proven their star power locally – took on the international stage.
One artist provided an answer to this question as he made history as the first African DJ to win a Grammy award. Black Coffee, who has been a household name in southern Africa for some years, took to the global arena and never looked back. Taking the award for Best Dance/Electronic album, the South African DJ and producer showed his star power in a category that has been dominated by musicians from the global north, among them Madonna, Kaytranada, Daft Punk and Skrillex.
Another artist of South African heritage also left with a Grammy on the night. Doja Cat – whose father, Dumisani Dlamini, played Crocodile in the film version of Sarafina – added to her record-breaking year by snagging the award for Best Pop Duo/Group performance along with SZA. In a move with the times, she has dominated the rap industry with her album, Planet Her, becoming the most streamed album by a female rapper in the history of digital streaming platform, Spotify, according to Chart Data and hip-hopvibe.com. Beninese powerhouse, Angélique Kidjo took home her third trophy for the album, Mother Nature. and what started as a lockdown project earned Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear the first Grammy to be awarded to an initiative birthed on the social media platform, TikTok, with The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical.
While the landscape has changed for the consumption of music, there is an undeniable fact that people cannot live without it. In 2022, the Grammys expanded the nominee pool to 10 artists from 7 in recognition of the many noteworthy players on the worldwide landscape. This year marked a turn in the tides for independent artists as well as those who have been contributors to soundtracks for decades. As the world opens up again, it is a certainty that music will be the mortar that binds us once again.