On February 10th, the 61st Grammy’s graced screens around the world. Grammy awards are often heralded as the most prestigious award in music. The main aim of the Grammys is to reward musical excellence without letting favouritism or chart success sway the decision on who should receive an award. But, in 2019’s annual instalment of the award show, did they manage to stay true to this mantra?
Grammy nominations and awards are decided on by The Recording Academy, a body that consists solely of those who are involved in the music creation process, this includes roles such as the artists themselves but also consists of music engineers, producers and songwriters.
Despite not being in attendance one of the big winners at this year’s Grammy’s was Donald Glover otherwise known as Childish Gambino. Glover was awarded some of the biggest prizes of the night including ‘Record of The Year’, and ‘Song of The Year’ both for his song ‘This is America’. Conversely, Glover also received awards for ‘Best Rap/Sung Performance’ and ‘Best Music Video’, all of which were very well deserved particularly seeing as ‘This is America’ provided a very necessary commentary on a multitude of topical notions such as how normalised violence is in everyday life and also how black people are still treated as second class citizens in contemporary American society.
Texas born country singer Kacey Musgraves took home one of the most coveted awards of the night ‘Album of The Year’, which she won for her breathtakingly beautiful album ‘Golden Hour’. This was one of the most pleasant surprises of the night especially seeing as Musgraves’ ‘Golden Hour’ managed to take home the title having gone toe to toe with some of 2018’s most popular albums, namely Drake’s ‘Scorpion’ as well as Post Malone’s ‘beerpongs & bentleys’.
Musgraves also took home the awards for ‘Best Country Album’, ‘Best Country Song’ and ‘Best Country Performance’. Interestingly, this is the exact same list of awards that fellow country singer turned pop star Taylor Swift won in 2010 with her ‘Fearless’ album.
Speaking of which, Swift was also one of the notable absences on Grammy’s night, which no one would blame her for seeing as she was shut out of all of the major categories other than ‘Best Pop Vocal Album’ which ended up being taken home by pint-sized pop princess Ariana Grande, for fourth studio effort ‘Sweetener’, with this being the first ever win for Grande at the Grammy awards. However, Grande too was not in attendance following a dispute with one of the producers of the show who apparently derailed the creative vision she had for a performance of pop music’s latest “I’m Rich and You’re Not!” anthem ‘7 Rings’.
It was also a night of firsts for rap’s new it-girl Cardi-B, who took home the award for ‘Best Rap Album’ fighting off stiff competition from Travis Scott, Pusha-T and the late Mac Miller. In doing so, Cardi became the first solo female artist to win this award since ‘Best Rap Album’ was introduced as an annual Grammys category over two decades ago.
Another big winner of the night was current award show darling Lady Gaga who won three awards, two of which were given to ‘Shallow’ from the acclaimed film ‘A Star is Born’. The singer has received a vast amount of recognition from both film and music award shows recently proving herself to be perhaps one of the most successful crossover acts from music to acting in recent memory.
It is fair to say that the 2019 Grammy awards were particularly inclusive, especially in relation to women; this is notable because, in 2018, president of The Recording Academy Neil Portnow stated that women needed to “step up”, implying that women in music were not doing enough to be recognised by the Grammy committee. Very poignantly, when British-Albanian pop starlet Dua Lipa accepted her ‘Best New Artist’ Grammy, she poked fun at Portnow’s ill-informed quip. Once Lipa received her award she expressed her pride at being nominated alongside a myriad of talented female artists before going on to add “I guess this year we really stepped up”, a triumphant moment not just for her but also for every other woman in music, whether they were present at the Grammy’s or not.
In summary, although this year’s ceremony brought more women and people of colour into the spotlight it can be said that that perhaps it is time for the Grammy committee to recognise that in most cases, popularity does not equal quality. Similarly, can they really be shocked that their viewership is declining year after year if they are implying that Post Malone and musical excellence belong in the same sentence?