Who won at the Grammys?


Palm Beach Post

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards were a letdown, not that anyone’s surprised. Over the years, it has become more and more obvious the Grammys are an out-of-touch, skewed popularity contest.

From the Recording Academy President, Neil Portnow, telling female artists to “step up” for more nominations, to several unusual appearances by Sting, to Album of the Year nominee Lorde not being allowed to perform, the awards in and of themselves, quite frankly, were a mess. But the most unsettling aspect to the awards was not what occurred, but who won.

For Album of the Year, we got amazingly talented nominees: Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!”, Jay-Z’s 4:44, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and Lorde’s Melodrama. Yet the win went to Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic, a summery 80’s throwback dance album. Now, I’m not saying 24K isn’t a bop; it’s definitely a jam. But was it really more deserving of the award than Gambino’s tribute to 70’s soul and funk, Jay-Z’s sonic response to his wife Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Lamar’s subversive, ingenious rap record, or Lorde’s musical exploration of solitude? I just don’t believe Mars’ record did much for music, nor do I believe it was any better than the other albums up for the award.

Almost everyone had their money on DAMN. taking home this award. And this isn’t the first time Lamar has been robbed at the Grammys. In 2015, his incredibly powerful To Pimp a Butterfly lost to Taylor Swift’s 1989. Saying Swift’s already-been-done pop record was better than Lamar’s racial commentary rap record is ridiculous. And saying his follow-up still wasn’t worthy makes it seem as if the Recording Academy has a vendetta against Lamar (or maybe just all rap albums in general, as only two have ever been named Album of the Year). Lamar did end up taking home five Grammys for Best Rap Performance, Best Rap/Sung Performance, Best Rap Song, Best Rap Album and Best Music Video, but most of these awards were in the rap category, not the general category.

AotY went a little wrong, but better luck in Record of the Year, right? Wrong! Here, we had Gambino’s Redbone, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s Despacito ft. Justin Bieber, Jay-Z’s The Story of O.J. and Lamar’s Humble. Yet who won again? Mars, with his single 24K Magic. In my opinion, Gambino should’ve cleaned up in this category with his iconic funk single. (Gambino did go on to win Best Traditional R&B performance, but only after being robbed of Best R&B Song and Best Urban Contemporary Album.)If not Redbone, then at least the song of the summer Despacito or Lamar’s blood-pumping Humble. But once again, credit was not given where credit was due.

Let’s try this again! For Song of the Year, which rewards the writing of a song, Fonsi, Yankee and Bieber’s Despacito, Jay-Z’s 4:44, Julia Michaels’ Issues and Logic’s 1-800-273-8255 ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid. But Mars wins with That’s How I Like It, winning in three of the four most prestigious categories. Is Mars talented? Yes, of course he is? But should the Recording Academy have recognized other artists? Yes.

The fourth most prestigious category was Best New Artist, wherein Alessia Cara, Khalid, Lil Uzi Vert, Julia Michaels and SZA were nominated. Cara took home the Grammy, though I would have preferred SZA winning this one, with her neo-soul debut album Ctrl. However, Cara was the only female artist to take anything home, inciting outrage.

This brings me to the next category: Best Pop Solo Performance. Here, Kesha’s Praying, Lady Gaga’s Million Reasons, P!nk’s What About Us, Kelly Clarkson’s Love So Soft and Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You were nominated. Praying was Kesha’s powerful comeback after being sexually harassed by her producer, sending a message of triumphing through adversities. But, of course, Sheeran’s song about falling in love with a girl he met at the bar got the Grammy, an award he wasn’t even there to receive. In a category full of women, I was expecting Kesha, or at least one of the other talented women, to win, especially now that we know only one woman would go on to take home a Grammy. Maybe it’s not the women who need to step up to get awards, but the Academy who needs to step up and recognize the powerful contributions to music women are making.

In Best Pop Vocal Album, Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide), Coldplay’s Kaleidoscope EP, Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life, Imagine Dragon’s Evolve, Kesha’s Rainbow and Lady Gaga’s Joanne were nominated. Sheeran, once again, won. In my opinion, Del Rey’s passionate summer record, Kesha’s ode to freedom and Gaga’s tribute to her late aunt definitely deserved the award over Sheeran’s decent pop record, one he has given us two times already. Are we seeing a pattern here? If the Grammys are going to continually ignore those truly deserving of awards, should they really be allowed to continue on setting the standard of music?