You’ve gotta hand it to the Grammys for getting the stars—Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Adele, Harry Styles—on camera, and for making sure the top acts were mostly rewarded in some way, even if not for the categories that most intuitively made sense. There’s no arguing with big recognition for Harry’s album, for Bey’s record-breaking wins, for Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar, Steve Lacy, Tay, Future, Muni Long, Sam Smith and Kim Petras, to name a few.

It was a tremendous night for Sony in particular (and appropriately reflected the company’s fabulous year); in addition to the stars already listed, you can add Ozzy Osbourne and ROSALÍA to SME’s impressive list of winners. Rumor has it that people have seen Rob Stringer actually smiling. Harry’s huge look also marked the further expansion of the Azoff dynasty, as Jeffrey, smartly attired in a green suit, appeared in the front row with his star.

The crowning of Samara Joy in BNA, meanwhile, may not have reflected the marketplace, but she’s a helluva singer and a prime example of musical discovery. Hers could be the one new record that upper-demo audiences embrace, in the tradition of an Adele, an O Brother or a Norah Jones. She might even mint a few new jazz fans.

Ratings were up, possibly higher than at any time since the pandemic started and +30% over last year. Getting those famous faces up front (and properly promoting them in advance) seems to have paid off.

Did some of the wins feel a bit, well, horse-traded? Sure. Was there quite a bit of make-good and perhaps some wins that felt like career-achievement awards? Yes. Were the agendas of a few Academy insiders glaringly obvious? Absolutely. Business as usual.

The so-called New Academy’s emphasis on representation has certainly shifted the landscape—which is laudable for many reasons. How that came through in the awards and during the show is another conversation.

The show itself, unfortunately, felt like a lot of missed opportunities.

For one thing, it was unbelievably long, and for no particularly good reason. Indeed, for all we know, it may still be going on. Even the pre-telecast show, which gave out about 10 million awards, was shorter.

Unfortunately, Music’s Biggest Night was clogged by filler, some of it simply dreadful (those endless fan segments), some of it merely awkward (host Trevor Noah’s banter largely didn’t connect).

Many of the performances seemed to lack energy, and the best ones—the starry, vibrant tribute to hip-hop’s 50th and JAY-Z’s brilliant contribution to DJ Khaled’s “GOD DID”—were underserved. The Khaled song came at the four-hour mark, by which point most viewers had tuned out. Imagine if it had opened the show. (Fortunately, another of the best musical segments, uniting icons Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson with soulful country marvel Chris Stapleton, aired early enough to perk things up for a bit.)

As for the rap tribute, how is it that all this talent could be brought together but nobody thought to put a chyron on the screen to identify the artists? De La Soul’s wonderful catalog is being brought back to DSPs and retail after decades of wrangling and neglect. If only this giant TV platform had told viewers the group’s name during their performance.

And speaking of connecting the dots for viewers, how many were lost because the show didn’t see fit to offer an on-screen translation of Bad Bunny’s speech?

We heard so many people acknowledge the importance of Bey and Kendrick’s albums, but we didn't hear a note from either. Even Shervin Hajipour, the Iranian activist whose “Baraye” earned an award recognizing it as the Best Song for Social Change, rated only a quick video montage. These recordings clearly had an impact—could we have lost maybe a few minutes of fan-focus-group nattering to share them on the show?

The "in memoriam" segment, meanwhile, though at times quite moving, also felt overlong, which further dampened the energy. Perhaps given the number of departures we now face on a yearly basis, they shouldn’t all be addressed in one lengthy sequence.

Noah tried to enliven the proceedings, but he’s not an effective host. It’s a tough job. LL COOL J did it well; Alicia Keys excelled. It seems that someone inside the music world would have a better feel for the room and could talk to the artists as a peer rather than a nervous fan.

The real issue, though, is that there was too much blah-blah and not enough excitement. A tighter show, without extraneous gimmickry and with performances by the biggest stars—and a more musically savvy host—could bring back the glow.

But who knows, maybe day two of the show will pick up the pace.