It is encouraging to see the significant presence and influence of women at the Grammys. This was stated by music journalist Alexis Petridis.

It is encouraging to see the significant presence and influence of women at the Grammys. This was stated by music journalist Alexis Petridis.


In a way, the 2023 Grammys simply confirmed what audiences already knew. There were few surprises, unless you consider Killer Mike’s evening to be one: even before he left the arena in handcuffs due to an alleged battery incident, he had already won three awards, which is impressive for a politically-minded rapper approaching 50 years old. André 3000, who was a featured artist on Killer Mike’s award-winning track “Scientists & Engineers”, recently expressed concern about his age, stating “I’m 48 years old. Not to say that age determines what you rap about, but in a way it does. What do you talk about – do I have to go get a colonoscopy?” However, Killer Mike’s success with yet another socially conscious album serves as a rebuttal to this idea – as does Victoria Monét becoming the oldest recipient of the best new artist award at 34 years old.

However, in other places, the results were largely predictable. The winners were mostly women: Jon Batiste was the only male artist nominated in the top three categories. The most memorable performances of the evening were by SZA, Joni Mitchell, and Billie Eilish, who, at the age of 22, won her ninth Grammy. Apart from the winners, the most talked-about moments were the surprise appearances of Céline Dion, who presented the album of the year award, and Tracy Chapman, who hasn’t released an album since 2008 and hasn’t performed publicly in nine years, singing a duet with Luke Combs.

There has been a noticeable change from a few years ago. In 2018, very few women were recognized in the top categories by the Recording Academy. At the time, the chairman Neil Portnow made a concerning statement, attributing the barriers faced by women to their own lack of effort and urging them to be more assertive.

However, the recipients of this year’s awards were not seen as making special appeals. Taylor Swift’s commercial dominance in 2023 was almost complete – in addition to her Era tour, her music was streamed 26 billion times on Spotify last year. Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus’s “Flowers,” which won song of the year, was the biggest song of 2023. It is worth noting that a Black woman has not won album of the year in this century. Jay-Z gently called out the Academy on stage for not giving enough credit to Black artists, including his wife. Some argue that SZA deserved the award for her eclectic and triumphant US No 1 album SOS, but she only took home three awards.

SZA accepts the award for best R&B song for Snooze.View image in fullscreen

The remarkable aspect of the awards was not that Taylor Swift, SZA, or Billie Eilish were victorious – truthfully, it would have been unusual if they weren’t – but rather the extensive dominance of female artists. Paramore and Boygenius prevailed in the typically male-dominated categories of rock and alternative music; Wet Leg surprisingly won remix of the year, another category typically dominated by men, for their rendition of Depeche Mode’s “Wagging Tongue.” Women conquered in a variety of genres including country (Lainey Wilson), musica urbana (Karol G), R&B (Coco Jones), African music (22-year-old South African Tyla), and pop-dance (Kylie Minogue). However, for a British success story, one could focus on the dance/electronic categories where Fred Again took home two awards.

It could be argued that Jack Antonoff’s win for best producer was indirectly influenced by women, as the majority of his recent high-profile clients are female, including Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Clairo, Lorde, Olivia Rodrigo, St Vincent, and Florence + the Machine. Both Swift and Del Rey also worked alongside Antonoff as co-producers on their nominated projects this year. In light of this, it’s understandable why Phoebe Bridgers of Boygenius would bring up Neil Portnow’s controversial comment about female artists not “stepping up”. However, Bridgers’ response was not very diplomatic, as she stated, “To him I’d like to say – I know you’re not dead yet, but when you are, I hope you rot in piss.”