SINGAPORE – Under fire in recent times for under-representation, this year’s edition of the Grammys felt like music’s biggest night correcting itself.

Women ruled the 61st edition of the glitzy annual awards show that took place in Los Angeles on Feb 11, led by American country singer Kacey Musgraves who picked up one of the biggest prizes, album of the year for her fourth album, Golden Hour.

For the first time, the nominations in the category were increased from five to eight, five of them female artists. This is a huge contrast to last year, when only one female artist was nominated, New Zealand singer Lorde.

Musgraves also led the winners list by picking up three other prizes – best country solo performance for Butterflies, best country song for Space Cowboy and best country album for Golden Hour. It was her best performance at the Grammys yet – she also won best country song (Merry Go ‘Round) and best country album (Same Trailer Different Park) at the show’s 2013 edition.

Pop favourite Lady Gaga and American country singer Brandi Carlile each went home with three gongs, with Lady Gaga picking up best pop duo/group performance and best song written for visual media for Shallow, which was featured on the soundtrack of the film A Star Is Born.

Other prominent wins by female artists include British-Albanian pop star Dua Lipa for best new artist and best dance recording (Electricity), American R&B singer H.E.R. for best r&b performance (Best Part) and best r&b album (H.E.R.), Cardi B for best rap album (Invasion Of Privacy). Ariana Grande, whose refused to attend after disagreements with the Grammys over her performance, picked up best pop vocal album for Sweetener.

Singer and songwriter Alicia Keys, herself a 15-time Grammy winner, was a gracious host and surprised many when she invited her powerful posse of friends on stage – former US First Lady Michelle Obama, actress-singers Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and Jada Pinkett Smith.

It would seem that this year’s Grammys was a direct response to last year’s debacle.

It was only a year ago where Lorde became the only major nominee not to be invited to perform, and even more damning – there were no female nominees for record of the year.

Grammy president Neil Portnow made the situation worse by saying that women needed “to step up”, prompting an outcry from many in the music industry who accused him of being condescending. Portnow apologised and his Recording Academy then formed a task force to aid “female advancement”, which has led to this year’s turnaround.

In terms of increasing the diversity at this year’s ceremony, there were also plenty of firsts.

Rapper-actor Childish Gambino, whose real name is Donald Glover, made history with This Is America, his blistering rap on race relations. For the first time, a hip-hop song picked up record of the year and song of the year. The song also won Glover, who did not attend the ceremony, best rap/sung performance and best music video.

Pop singer Camila Cabello lost out on her two nominations but she too made history, becoming the first Latin act to open the Grammys with a performance that also featured cameos from other prominent Latino artists J Balvin, Ricky Martin and Arturo Sandoval.

Closer to home, South Korean pop juggernauts BTS became the first Korean act to present an award (for best R&B album category) and to be nominated for a prize.Their Love Yourself: Tear album was nominated in the Best Recording Package category although they lost to St. Vincent’s Masseduction.

Perhaps this might be a start for more K-pop artists to shine, and even win prizes at the Grammys. After all, the K-pop fan base is growing internationally, including in the US, and it would be prudent for the Grammys to give more prominence to the genre if it was to maintain its stature as “music’s biggest night”.

Major winners

Album of the year – Kacey Musgraves ‘ Golden Hour

Record of the year – Childish Gambino – This Is America

Best new artist – Dua Lipa

Best rap album – Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy – WINNER

Best R&B album – H.E.R.’s H.E.R.

Best rap song – Drake’s God’s Plan

Best country album – Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour

Song of the year – Childish Gambino’s This Is America

Best pop duo/group performance – Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s Shallow

Best pop solo performance – Lady Gaga’s Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)

Best pop vocal album – Ariana Grande’s Sweetener

Best dance/electronic album – Justice’s Woman Worldwide

Best rock album – Greta Van Fleet’s From the Fires

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