The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards were, undeniably, Megan Thee Stallion’s night. At the outdoor Los Angeles ceremony, the 26-year-old Houstonian stunned with a tangerine Dolce & Gabbana dress—bow, thigh slit, and all—while racking up three gilded gramophones.
Megan opened her show-stopping debut Grammy performance with an affirmation of her past year: “Tonight is my first night at the Grammys. But it is not my first time entertaining you.”
In a bedazzled bodysuit, Megan twirled, twerked, and split through a burlesque medley of “Body” and the chart-topping remix of “Savage” featuring Beyoncé. Like many of her appearances, the staging was dance-heavy, flaunting Megan’s aptitude for choreography and knees of steel. A chorus line in feathered showgirl attire also accompanied the rapper, exalting jazz-age aesthetics and the historical contributions of Black artists to the industry. The culminating tap dance break, an homage to the Nicholas Brothers’ iconic stair dance from the 1934 classic Stormy Weather, was the exclamation point to a stellar performance.
By far, the defining moment of the night was the ensuing transgression of every Federal Communications Commission regulation on the books: Megan’s primetime debut of “WAP” with Cardi B. While the lyrics were heavily censored (“Yeah, you’re dealin’ with some wet, wet, wet”), the visuals pulled no punches. The duo rapped under a giant Pleaser shoe—the heel of which doubled as a stripper pole—before rolling around together on a (truly) King-size bed. No set, it seemed, could be too big to match the No. 1 hit’s momentous success.
Megan Thee Stallion is no stranger to spectacle, consistently upping the caliber of her performances in spite of pandemic limitations. Yet Megan always brings more than just budget and scale, gracing the SNL stage with “PROTECT BLACK WOMEN” emblazoned in the background and declaring love for her physique at the AMAs. Given her 2020 assault by Tory Lanez and the relentless critiques of her body online, these messages of self-love, sexual freedom, and power are more than uplifting—they’re a reclamation of her narrative.
On stage, Megan is an unflinching mix of confidence and poise; off stage, she effortlessly charms with her levity and authenticity. Upon winning each Grammy over the course of the night, she was rendered genuinely speechless, mouth agape and frozen to her seat. Megan’s nerves appeared to reach a peak when she was escorted on stage by her personal hero, Beyoncé, to accept their joint Best Rap Song win for “Savage.” “If you know me, you have to know that ever since I was little, I was like, ‘You know what? One day, I’m going to grow up and I’m going to be, like, the rap Beyoncé,’” Megan said, flustered and excitedly laughing.
But the Recording Academy stumbled just when it mattered most: the top prize of the night, Record of the Year. Billie Eilish, despite having a comparatively middling year, beat out Megan Thee Stallion (not to mention Beyoncé, Doja Cat, and Dua Lipa) with “Everything I Wanted.”
“This is really embarrassing for me,” said Eilish, herself a seven-time Grammy winner. “Megan, girl. I was gonna write a speech about how you deserve this, but then I was like, ‘There’s no way they’re going to choose me.’” Eilish rambled through a spontaneous version of that speech anyway, asking the sparse audience of stars to applaud for Megan. This awkward affair was only the latest instance of a white artist apologizing to a Black artist more deserving of their Grammy win—in 2017, notably, Adele used her acceptance speech for Album of the Year to praise Beyoncé. But Megan doesn’t need pity claps from her peers. Her success speaks for itself.
As Megan says on her now two-time Grammy-winning song “Savage”: “I’m that bitch / Been that bitch, still that bitch / Will forever be that bitch.” Megan’s meteoric year—dominating charts, TikTok, and the cultural consciousness—verifies that statement. If the Recording Academy is too shortsighted to recognize that 2020 belonged utterly to Megan Thee Stallion, that’s no one’s problem but their own.