The 61st annual Grammy awards took place on Sunday, Feb 10th and were hosted by singer and songwriter Alicia Keys. Overall, there were many talented nominees across 84 categories in various genres. While the number of awards hasn’t changed since last year, there were a few important changes made for this year’s awards. The biggest change in the structure of the award show was that the number of nominees for the ‘Big 4’ categories was upped from five nominees to eight nominees. This was done in an effort to introduce more diversity into the event following criticism over last year’s show.
Starting with the biggest 4 categories; Record of the Year and Song of the Year both went to Childish Gambino for his song “This is America”, Album of the Year went to country singer Kacey Musgraves for “Golden Hour”, and the Best New Artist was pop singer Dua Lipa. The biggest winners of the night were Kacey Musgraves and Childish Gambino, with four Grammys each. Notable performances included: tributes to Dolly Parton, Donny Hathaway, and Aretha Franklin; a 10 song, a dual-piano solo performance by Alicia Keys; a Motown 60th anniversary performance; and songs from Lady Gaga, Post Malone, Travis Scott, Cardi B, and more.
This prestigious event in music often draws a lot of controversies, and this year was no exception. Many big-name artists such as Drake and Kendrick Lamar flat-out refused to perform, and Ariana Grande and Childish Gambino were no-shows. 2018’s Grammy awards were disappointing to many viewers due to the lack of diversity in the winner’s pool, with pop artists like Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran beating out artists that had a stronger impact with their music – such as Logic and his song “1-800-273-8255.”
Many artists and fans believe that the Grammys are nothing more than a popularity contest – giving the most attention to artists who sell more copies, rather than to those who have a more meaningful effect on the industry and on societal issues. While this years’ awards did improve on the diversity factor thanks to more female winners, it seems that the Recording Academy (they have the final say in who wins) still need to do a better job listening to the artists they represent.
For example, Drake literally got cut off while doing his speech, after encouraging fellow artists that they “don’t need [a Grammy] right now” and pointing out that “a bunch of people” (presumably Academy members) don’t understand the cultural impacts behind the music. Ariana Grande explained over Twitter that the reason she failed to perform at or attend the event was because she felt that her “creativity and self-expression was stifled” by Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich who would not let her perform the songs she wanted to.
While it is true that music is entirely subjective, many hardworking artists still get snubbed every year. The Grammys need to embrace music as a platform for change, and not only for its appeal to people’s ears and wallets. They have made slow progress over the years by awarding more and more diverse artists, but it seems this has all been due to backlash from previous years. For the Grammys to stay relevant, they need to respect the one thing they stand for – the artists.