Protest anthem I Can't Breathe wins song of the year

A protest anthem inspired by George Floyd's death and the Black Lives Matter movement has won song of the year at the Grammys.

I Can't Breathe, by the R&B singer H.E.R. was released last summer, and quotes Floyd's last words, as he died in police custody in Minneapolis.

Accepting the prize, the star said she never imagined "that my fear and my pain would turn into impact".

"That's why I write music," she added, "and I'm so, so grateful"

The singer, whose real name is Gabriella Wilson, was accompanied by her co-writer Tiara Thomas, and she recalled how they'd written I Can't Breathe "over FaceTime" last summer.

"I recorded this song by myself in my bedroom at my mom's house. And I want to thank my dad - he cried, he was in tears when I wrote the song and I played it for him. He was the first person I played it for."

"But remember," she concluded. "We are the change that we wish to see and you know that fight that we had in us the summer of 2020, keep that same energy. Thank you."

H.E.R's win came two-thirds of the way through a socially-distanced, three-hour ceremony, that was primarily focused on live music.

The show kicked off with three back-to-back performances by Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Haim.

"I know that you haven't been able to go to a concert in a long time," said host Trevor Noah. "So tonight we're bringing the concert to you."

Styles raised the curtain with his hit single Watermelon Sugar, sporting a lime green feather boa and an open-chested leather jacket.

The song went on to win best pop solo performance later in the ceremony, making him the first member of One Direction to win a Grammy - either as a solo artist or as part of the group.

"It's crazy to think someone that talented and handsome is from the same place as Boris Johnson," joked Noah as Styles' performance ended.

Billie Eilish, who dominated last year's ceremony, followed with her ballad Everything I Wanted.

The song, which looks at the disorientating effect of her stardom, is up for both record and song of the year. She has already won best song written for visual media, for her Bond theme No Time To Die.

"It was a dream to make the song," said the singer. "I have no words. I can't believe this is real. I couldn't believe it was real then…"

Most of the ceremony is being held outside the LA Convention Center, with nominees sitting at socially-distanced tables.

"So there's more tension in that tent than at a family reunion at Buckingham Palace," joked Noah.

He added: "Tonight is going to be the biggest outdoor event this year, besides the storming of the capital".

Because of the pandemic, bands are arranged across five stages inside the concert hall, recalling the set-up of Jools Holland's BBC TV show.

Among the highlights were Dua Lipa, who performed a disco-fied melody of her hits Levitating and Don't Start Now, throwing in some 80s keep fit moves for good measure.

Taylor Swift ran through three songs (Cardigan, August and Willow) from her low-key lockdown albums Folklore and Evermore, which is an album of the year nominee.

And Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion got together for the first ever TV performance of their X-rated single WAP.

Megan Thee Stallion was also the first major winner of the night, taking home best new artist at the start of the ceremony.

"I don't want to cry," she said as she took to the stage. "It's been a crazy year, but we made it."

The star also thanked her mother, who died of a brain tumour in 2019.

"She couldn't be here with me tonight," she had said on the red carpet earlier in the night. "But she always knew that I would be at the Grammys, and I would be like, 'Oh mom, that's so far away' but it came so quick.

"And I'm just so appreciative that I'm here."

Beyoncé led the nominations going into the ceremony. with nine in total. Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and rapper Roddy Ricch also have six each.

She has already won two of those, in an extensive pre-ceremony show, where dozens of genre-based awards were handed out to the likes of Fiona Apple, Kanye West, The Strokes, Burna Boy and British musician Jacob Collier.