STORY BY: JODY JOHNSON
Oh, the Grammys. Once was a time where a Grammy Award meant something. The Grammys were created to recognize the accomplishments and hard work a musician had released throughout the year. There have been many upsets when a favorite artist doesn’t win, but it has become more apparent in the recent years just how out of touch the Recording Academy voters are.
The Grammys are voted by The Recording Academy, a group of professionals in the music industry that are made up of mostly white men. The Recording Academy was the group that chose to award Taylor Swift over Kendrick Lamar for Album of the Year in 2016, and Alessia Cara over SZA for Best New Artist.
What does this mean?
The Recording Academy are out of touch with this generation of new listeners. They are still stuck on celebrating the mainstream“white” or “safe” artists and genres.
In 2017, Hip Hop overtook Country and became the most popular music genre. However, the Grammys did what was expected and chose safe choices for the winners. Although talented, Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic won Album of the Year with the rap nominees losing once again. Bruno Mars won because his music was more mainstream than the other nominees. 24K Magic was an album full of 90s-styled R&B jams, where he was celebrating the joys of life. Kendrick Lamar was nominated for Album of the Year this year and he lost once again to an album that is deemed more “safe.”
Being “safe” is how Taylor Swift was able to win over Kendrick Lamar, and for Album of the Year twice. Lyrics about falling in love, having ‘bad blood’ with a former friend, and shaking off the haters are deemed award-winning because they appeal to the white mainstream public.
All of Kendrick’s Grammy-nominated albums were raw, discussed issues of police brutality, drugs, gang lifestyle, black on black violence and being socially relevant. Yet while being critically acclaimed and shedding light into what’s currently happening in the world he lost out to Daft Punk in 2014, Taylor Swift in 2016, and Bruno Mars in 2018.
In this year’s Grammy Awards Alessia Cara was the only woman to win a solo Grammy Award. Ed Sheeran beat out the talented vocalist Lady Gaga and the powerful Kesha in the Best Pop Solo Recording category. Lady Gaga’s Million Reasons was the acoustic ballad that showed Gaga is not a pop gimmick. Kesha’s Praying was the comeback for the singer as she was the first woman to openly state the emotional and sexual abuse she experienced within the entertainment industry. Powerhouse vocalists P!nk and Kelly Clarkson were also nominated in this category.
Instead of recognizing any of the talented women in this category, the Academy awarded Ed Sheeran with Best Pop Solo Recording for Shape of You. A song about loving a woman’s body was chosen over songs that were meaningful and empowering to women. Ed Sheeran was a no show at the Grammys because he felt his album should have been up for Album of the Year. Yet, he still won over these powerful women.
When asked about the few female winners Recording Academy president Neil Portnow stated, “I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls…to step up.” Women need to step up? I’m pretty sure Beyoncé stepped up in 2017 with Lemonade, an album drenched with black women empowerment only to lose to the harmless Adele with 25. SZA was the voice for black women this year but lost Best New Artist to the more mainstream Alessia Cara who technically became a new artist in 2015.…but got nominated two years later as she became more mainstream by appearing on the Moana soundtrack and 1-800-273-8255 with Logic.
What the Grammy Awards need to do is step up and get with the times. They need to award artists who are just as critically acclaimed as they are socially relevant. They need to either get rid of the mostly white men in the Academy or they need to appoint several women and people of color to fully diversify the staff in order to represent a multicultural society.
Maybe if the Grammys actually step the fuck up, their ratings would improve.