How Did Billie Eilish Make History at the Grammys?

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On January 26, the 62nd annual Grammys took place in Los Angeles at the Staples Center (mere hours after revered basketball player Kobe Bryant, who achieved a lifetime of record-breaking achievements at the Staples Center, died unexpectedly). Although the Recording Academy was mired in controversy leading up to its most recent awards show, news coverage following the event didn’t focus on ex-CEO Deborah Dugan’s allegations of money mismanagement, institutional racism and misogyny, rigged voting systems, sexual assault, and conflicts of interest. It instead most prominently discussed how Billie Eilish made history at the Grammys. Here’s what she achieved.

Second artist to sweep the Big Four – and first in 39 years

It is exceedingly rare for an artist to win the four General Field awards – Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best New Artist – in the same year, let alone across one’s lifetime. Eilish is only the second artist in Grammys history to sweep the Big Four in the same ceremony, with Christopher Cross first achieving this distinction nearly four decades ago in 1981. 

With time, Cross’ musical legacy has mostly been forgotten. After he swept the Big Four in 1981, he faced a public backlash that eventually led to the diminishing of his career. Long before the 62nd Grammy Awards nominees were announced, some music reporters worried that Eilish could face a similar backlash to what Cross experienced. It remains to be seen whether Eilish will suffer a similar fate, though she is at least conscious that it could happen to her – she was caught wishing for the Album of the Year award to go to someone else before being handed the win. 

Eilish later said that Ariana Grande deserved the award for her fifth album, Thank U, Next. Grande won Best Pop Vocal Album for Thank U, Next’s predecessor Sweetener at the 2019 Grammys, the one non-Big Four award that Eilish also won this year. Eilish only lost in one of the six categories in which she was nominated: Best Pop Solo Performance, which Lizzo won for her mega-hit “Truth Hurts” (and Eilish’s producer, her brother FINNEAS, won Producer of the Year).

Youngest artist to sweep the Big Four – and more 

A large part of the omnipresent hype around Eilish has stemmed from her youth. Eilish was only 17 when she released WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? and its lead single “bad guy,” the latter of which won her the Album of the Year and the former of which won her Song of the Year and Record of the Year. By the time of the ceremony, she had turned 18, but this age is still far younger than Cross was when he won, making her the youngest artist to sweep the Big Four.

Additionally, Eilish is the youngest artist to win the Album of the Year award. Taylor Swift previously won this award at 20 years old for her sophomore album Fearless. 

Do you think Eilish deserved all the Grammys she won? Sound off in the comments!

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