2019 Grammy Awards

By Josephine Nadolny, Staff Writer

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Since 1959, the Grammy Awards have recognized excellence in prominent figures of the music industry.  In early February of this year, the 61st annual Grammys aired, failing to meet many of the audience’s expectations.  Year by year, the show continues to collect backlash and criticism from the audience, attendees, and even award winners themselves.  While there were multiple things wrong with this year’s showing, we are first going to recognize the positive aspects of the awards.

The 2019 Grammy Awards was an embarrassing moment for many; however, the focus on women’s empowerment brought a new, progressive light that previous shows had lacked.  With Michelle Obama’s surprise appearance, performances by Kacey Musgraves, Camila Cabello, and a Dolly Parton tribute, along with host Alicia Keys, the show made sure to recognize female excellence.  The Grammys also broadened its horizons on issues such as mental health and politics. Childish Gambino even received the title of Song of The Year for “This is America.” However, this is where problems began to arise.  

Countless stars refused to make appearances at this years show, including Beyonce, Jay-Z, Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Gambino himself.  Many of those who did make an appearance at the awards were unimpressed, to say the least. Rapper Drake, while receiving his award for best rap song, made a comment on the prejudice artists of color face within the Academy.

Drake stated in his speech, “This is a business where sometimes it’s up to a bunch of people who might not understand what a mixed-race kid from Canada has to say or a fly Spanish girl from New York, or anybody else… or a brother from Houston, my brother Travis [Scott]. But my point is you’ve already won if you have people singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown,… If there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need [an award]. I promise you, you already won.”

Drake was then cut off from continuing his speech by the broadcasters.  Before the showing, multiple hip-hop artists had declined to perform at the rewards, for continuing to lack representation for hip-hop artists and people of color.

While the lack of minority recognition is an ongoing problem within the entertainment industry, the Recording Academy recently appointed Tina Tchen to combat the issue.

Tchen says, “Our invite initiative is a first step to reach out to the diverse, talented individuals who make up the music community. The Recording Academy should reflect the scope and scale of the music industry and recognize the creative and artistic endeavors that enable it to thrive. Having a truly diverse membership is the foundation for any change. This initiative is one of the many ways the Task Force is encouraging change in practices while nurturing a more inclusive organization for Academy members today and for generations to come.”

Social media also had its fair share of input when it came to racial issues, and, unsurprisingly, the award winners.  Specifically, Cardi B.

Cardi B. took the title of Best Rap Album, beating other artists such as Travis Scott, Nipsey Hussle, Pusha-T, and the late rapper, Mac Miller.  While Cardi B. was quoted saying, “I read an article that Mac Miller’s family said that if he [doesn’t] win, they wanted me to win. So I’m sharing this Grammy with you. Rest in peace! And thank you, everybody.” Despite this, the public still believed Malcom (Mac) deserved the title to himself.  After years of success in the rap game, Miller’s fanbase and ex-girlfriend, Ariana Grande, were furious about his loss. Many claimed that if the voting were in the public’s hands, Miller would have won by a landslide. This may have been true, judging by the amount of backlash the program received on social media.

While the 2019 Grammy Awards attempted to broaden its horizons on multiple issues, it still has a long way to go before it can reclaim its previous popularity.  Hopefully, in years to come, it will hold a better representation of current American pop culture.

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