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Grammys 2021: Best moments, winners and nominees

Trevor Noah hosted the 63rd annual ceremony, which featured performances from Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stalllion and other chart-topping artists.
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The Grammy Awards adapted to the realities of the coronavirus pandemic Sunday, staging a socially distant ceremony from downtown Los Angeles. The 63rd annual ceremony, hosted by Trevor Noah of "The Daily Show," featured performances from Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion, Harry Styles and other chart-topping artists.

The winners in the "big four" categories were Taylor Swift (album of the year), Billie Eilish (record of the year), H.E.R. (song of the year) and Megan Thee Stallion (best new artist). Plus: Beyoncé made Grammys history, becoming the winningest woman, with her 28th trophy.

Here's a look at some of the most memorable moments from the show.

Trevor Noah's monologue

The comedian, introducing the ceremony in an open-air tent outside the Los Angeles Convention Center, nodded to the difficulties of the pandemic and riffed on other current events.

"We're still broadcasting to you from the heart of downtown Los Angeles," Noah said. "This is not a Zoom background, all right? This is real. My uncle isn't going to walk behind me naked even though I told him I was having an important meeting."

IMAGE: Trevor Noah at the Grammys
Trevor Noah arrives at the Grammy Awards ceremony Sunday in Los Angeles.Jordan Strauss / AP

"Tonight is going to be the biggest outdoor event this year besides the storming of the Capitol," Noah said in front of a small crowd of masked attendees seated at cocktail-style tables.

He later acknowledged the drama engulfing the British royal family: "There's more tension in that tent than at a family reunion at Buckingham Palace."

Billie Eilish, Harry Styles kick things off

The singer-songwriter Eilish and the pop star Styles provided the first performances of the night from a largely audience-free room inside the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Styles, clad in a black leather coat and a feather boa, sang "Watermelon Sugar," a track off his sophomore studio album, "Fine Line." He later won the best solo pop performance prize for "Watermelon Sugar."

IMAGE: Billie Eilish at the Grammys
Billie Eilish performs during the Grammy Awards ceremony Sunday in Los Angeles.Francis Specker / CBS via AFP - Getty Images

Eilish and her brother, Finneas, followed with a rendition of "Everything I Wanted." She performed atop a car designed to look like it was partly submerged under the floorboards — a nod to the music video for "Everything I Wanted," which features the pair cruising in a Dodge Challenger.

Megan Thee Stallion wins best new artist

The rapper Megan Thee Stallion received the first award presented during the live telecast: best new artist. (She won the prize for best rap performance during a preshow that did not air on CBS.)

"I don't want to cry," she said, visibly teary-eyed, at the beginning of a brief acceptance speech.

She became just the fifth rapper to win the trophy and the first female rapper to triumph in the category since Lauryn Hill in 1999.

In the third hour of the show, Megan Thee Stallion appeared alongside Cardi B to perform a slightly sanitized version of their hit "WAP" on a set designed to look like an enormous bed.

Megan Thee Stallion also won the prizes for best rap song (an award she accepted alongside her collaborator, Beyoncé) and best rap performance.

Taylor Swift performs medley

The pop singer treated viewers to a medley of songs from her albums "Evermore" and "Folklore" on a set straight out of a fairy tale: rustic cabin, mossy hillside, towering forest trees.

Swift sang "Cardigan," "August" and "Willow." She was joined for the second half of the performance by her collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner of the band The National.

"Folklore," which debuted in July, delivered five of Swift's six nominations Sunday. The sixth nod was for "Beautiful Ghosts," which was written for the movie musical "Cats."

IMAGE: Taylor Swift at the Grammys
Taylor Swift performs during the Grammy Awards ceremony Sunday in Los Angeles.TAS Rights Management 2021 via Getty Images

In memoriam segment remembers legends

Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak (who together form Silk Sonic) paid tribute to rock king Little Richard, Lionel Richie tipped his hat to country crooner Kenny Rogers, and Brandi Carlile celebrated singer-songwriter John Prine during a touching in memoriam segment.

Noah acknowledged that the list of late artists was especially long after a year of the coronavirus pandemic. He said viewers could see the names of nearly 1,000 people in the professional music industry who died in the last year at the official Grammys website.

Brittany Howard, accompanied by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin on piano, closed the tribute with an emotional rendition of the Broadway standard "You'll Never Walk Alone."

H.E.R. wins song of the year

The singer-songwriter H.E.R. won song of the year — one of the big four awards — for the song "I Can't Breathe," which was inspired by the movement for Black lives.

She shared the trophy with co-writers Dernst Emile II and Tiare Thomas.

"I've never been so proud to be an artist," H.E.R. said in her acceptance speech. "We wrote this song over FaceTime, and I didn't imagine that my fear and my pain would turn into impact and it would possibly turn into change."

She also called on people to continue the activism that surged last summer after the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Beyoncé breaks a Grammys record

"Queen Bey" won her 28th Grammy on Sunday, passing the bluegrass musician Alison Krauss to become the most honored woman in the history of the awards.

The win that put her over the top was for best R&B performance for "Black Parade," a single released on Juneteenth last year. The song drew wide acclaim for its powerful lyrics laced with allusions to Black history and activism.

"I've been working my whole life, since 9 years old," said Beyoncé, who came into the night with a leading nine nominations. "I can't believe this happened. It's such a magical night."

Swift, Eilish win marquee awards

Swift won album of the year for "Folklore," a surprise release that debuted in July. The album, developed during the pandemic, was defined by low-key romantic ballads and a storybook aesthetic.

She is the first female artist to win the award three times, having previously taken home trophies for "Fearless" and "1989."

In the show's final minutes, Eilish won record of the year for "Everything I Wanted." Eilish dedicated the award to Megan Thee Stallion.

"You deserved this," Eilish said to her fellow nominee, who was seated in the crowd. "You had a year that I think is untoppable. You are a queen. I want to cry thinking about how much I love you."