A Major Technical Issue Nearly Derailed Harry Styles’ Grammys 2023 Performance of As It Was

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Harry Styles brought his sartorial showmanship to the Grammys 2023 stage, performing a near-blinding rendition of his song “As It Was” in a custom silver sequin-embroidered T-shirt and sequin-fringed trousers by Gucci, paired with metallic Adidas x Gucci Gazelle sneakers. The look might have prompted numerous audience members—yes, including Taylor Swift—to dance in the disco effect he projected, but others were immediately puzzled by the seeming awkwardness of the show. Despite Styles and his dancers’ best efforts, both the audio and the visuals seemed stilted and confused.

After the ceremony—for which Styles was nominated for six Grammys, and won two, including Album of the Year—multiple Styles back-up dancers revealed the real reason behind the bizarre performance: A tech mishap nearly derailed the whole show.

A dancer named Dexter Da Rocha shared in a since-deleted TikTok video that the turntable Styles and his team had rehearsed on “for ten days” suddenly started moving in the wrong direction when the Grammys performance began. “This whole time we were practicing it with the turntable counterclockwise,” they said. “… At dress rehearsal, it was gorgeous; it was amazing. We get on stage for the performance, the performance starts and the turntable starts going the wrong way.”

Another dancer, Brandon Mathis, corroborated this story with his own, reposted by Styles fans on TikTok: “What you don’t know is that the moment the curtain opened and it was time to perform, our turntable started spinning in reverse. Backwards. Freaking all of us out on live television, and there was nothing we could do to stop it. In real time, we had to troubleshoot and try to do a complete piece in reverse. Talk about professionalism.”

Styles and his team were forced to improvise on the spot, likely contributing to the usually calm, cool and confident Styles’ unsteadiness.

Of course, leaning to take himself a little less seriously is something Styles has been actively working on over the past few years, the artist says. Styles reflected on the process of creating his album Harry’s House to Better Homes and Gardens in April 2022, saying, “Finally, it doesn’t feel like my life is over if this album isn’t a commercial success.” With his first album (2017’s self-titled Harry Styles), he was scared of making fun music “because I’d come out of [One Direction], and it was like, if I want to be taken seriously as a musician, then I can’t make fun music.”

With his second solo release (2019’s Fine Line), he felt a bit “freer,” but remained concerned with making “really big songs.” Harry’s House was built off a smaller but far more significant goal: to make music with legacy. “I just want to make stuff that is right, that is fun, in terms of the process, that I can be proud of for a long time, that my friends can be proud of, that my family can be proud of, that my kids will be proud of one day,” Styles said.

Watch clips from the Grammys performance and a backstage video below.

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GRAMMYs: Watch Harry Styles’ Performance

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HARRY STYLES Backstage At The 2023 GRAMMYs

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Alyssa Bailey

Senior News and Strategy Editor

Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.

Headshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Culture Writer

Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture writer at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books. She was previously an associate editor at ELLE. 

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