Stephanie Economou won the first Grammy ever awarded for video game music — one of four visual media categories awarded Sunday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles. The music of Disney’s “Encanto” swept the three it was up for: best song for visual media, best score soundtrack and best compilation soundtrack.
Economou won for “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok,” a Ubisoft action role-playing game that was among the best-selling games of 2020, reportedly earning more than $1 billion worldwide.
Economou is a rising star in the media music world, winning the Society of Composers & Lyricists award for emerging talent last year for her Netflix series “Jupiter’s Legacy.” She has contributed additional music to such films as “The Martian,” “Mulan” and “Catch-22” in the past.
In her acceptance speech, she acknowledged the long struggle for game music to be recognized in the Recording Academy, thanking “all of the people who fought tirelessly to bring this category into existence – thank you for acknowledging and validating the power of game music.”
Prior to this year, game music was eligible in the score category but only earned a single nomination in more than two decades of eligibility (Austin Wintory for “Journey” in 2012). Wintory was also nominated this year, for “Aliens: Fireteam Elite,” as were Bear McCreary for “Call of Duty: Vanguard,” Richard Jacques for “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” and Christopher Tin for “Old World.”
“Encanto’s” sweep of the three other visual media categories was the first time that’s happened in the 24 years since the compilation-soundtrack category was added in 1999. A single film has won two of the three on eight occasions (most recently “La La Land” for score and compilation in 2017) but the “Encanto” hat trick is a first at the Grammys.
Lin-Manuel Miranda won the song Grammy for “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” which turned out to be an unexpected viral hit in the months after the Disney animated film’s November 2021 release. Miranda, who did not attend the ceremony, outpolled such stars as Beyonce (“Be Alive”), Taylor Swift (“Carolina”), Lady Gaga (“Hold My Hand,” a current Oscar nominee), Billie Eilish (“Nobody Like U”) and Jessy Wilson (“Keep Rising”).
Germaine Franco, Oscar-nominated last year for her colorful, authentically Colombian-flavored music for the Disney animated film, bounded up to the stage to accept the Grammy for best score soundtrack. She is the first woman of color to win the award.
She acknowledged Miranda for his inspirational songs and said she was pleased to be the first Latina to win. Franco’s work bested scores from “The Batman,” “No Time to Die,” “The Power of the Dog” and season 3 of “Succession” in the category.
Producer Mike Elizondo and Disney executive Tom MacDougall accepted the Grammy for best compilation soundtrack, which contained the songs from “Encanto.” The album — which has sold an estimated 6 million copies worldwide — beat out fellow 2021 release “West Side Story” and the 2022 albums from “Elvis,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Stranger Things” season 4.
It was a particularly strong year for women composers at the Grammys. Starr Parodi (along with producers Jeff Fair and Kitt Wakely) also won for “An Adoption Story” as Best Classical Compendium.