Comedian Trevor Noah opened the Grammy Awards with a joke about the royal family as Harry Styles kicked-off the performances.
Ahead of the so-called biggest night in music, Beyonce led the way in nominations with nine, ahead of Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and rapper Roddy Ricch all on six.
The latter three were among a star-studded list of performers which also included Styles, BTS and Cardi B.
The Grammys – delayed by the pandemic from January – were anchored from the Los Angeles Convention Centre and hosted by Noah.
During his opening monologue, Noah nodded to the pandemic and said music “saved our souls over this unprecedented year”.
Speaking from a tent in downtown LA, Noah quipped the ceremony would be the “biggest outdoor event this year besides the storming of the Capitol”.
He pointed to the masked nominees, seated and socially distanced and said there is “more tension in that tent than at a family reunion at Buckingham Palace,” a reference to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s recent bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Noah added: “Tonight we’re hoping that this is all about what 2021 can be, full of joy, new beginnings and coming together.
“Never forgetting what happened in 2020 but full of hope for what is to come.”
Styles kicked off the show with a rendition of Watermelon Sugar, which scored a nomination for best pop solo performance.
The former One Direction star, known for his androgynous fashion sense, performed wearing an open leather jacket and trouser combination with a green scarf.
Noah joked that “the UK is diverse” after noting that Styles is from the same country as Boris Johnson.
Billie Eilish was next up singing her single Everything I Wanted, performing on top of a car which appeared to be submerged in the studio floor.
Girl band Haim also performed.
The 63rd running of the so-called biggest night in music had been rocked by an announcement from Canadian superstar The Weeknd that he was boycotting future Grammys.
He was snubbed this year, despite enjoying a hugely successful 12 months with his album After Hours. The Weeknd blamed his boycott on the “secret committees” that vote for the Grammys.
Before the main televised event, awards were handed out during the virtual Premiere Ceremony, with Beyonce and daughter Blue Ivy among the winners.
Blue Ivy, nine, is the second youngest winner in Grammy history after Brown Skin Girl, her mother’s song which she featured on, won best music video.
The only Grammy winner younger than Blue Ivy is Leah Peasall, who was eight in 2002 when recognised for her appearance on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, which won album of the year.
Beyonce also picked up an award for Savage, her collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion, leaving her on 26 Grammys, one short of drawing level with Alison Krauss as the most awarded woman in the ceremony’s history.
Ariana Grande, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Fiona Apple, John Legend and Lady Gaga also picked up prizes before the main show.