By Evan Eelsh
We all rooting for you, Grammys. I have personally sworn off caring about the Grammys multiple times, but with many articles preceding the show applauding the awards for addressing racial diversity, it seemed like this might be the year the Grammys did better. Even I took hold of the glimmer of hope that this might be the year it all works out. However, of course, this was not the year; it was a trap. Like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, music fans convinced themselves this would be the time it would all go according to plan, only to be fooled again.
In doing everything they could to show the world that the Grammys aren’t racist, they forgot not to be misogynistic. You would think in a year when artists are wearing white roses to show their support of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements on the red carpet and Kesha is scheduled to perform with a myriad of other female artists during the show to promote the same, that the Recording Academy might have taken a hint to give some female artists recognition. Unfortunately the Grammys failed to do so and the night unfolded into a mishap I’m sure they wish they could go back and change.
We should have seen the red flags starting to pop up when reports stated that Lorde, the only woman in the Album of the Year category, was not going to perform because unlike all the other male nominees in that category, she was not offered a solo performance.
Women were shut out in all but one of the four major categories; Alessia Cara won for Best New Artist, becoming the only female of the evening to win as a solo performer. But women not being awarded in three of the four major categories was not even the most shocking upset of the night, as Ed Sheeran, not in attendance, won for best pop solo performance over Kelly Clarkson, Kesha, Lady Gaga and Pink.
With so many opportunities to right previous wrongs, the Grammys just couldn’t do it. They couldn’t give Lorde a solo performance even though she was the only female in the Album of the Year category and had exploded with popularity from her album, Melodrama. They couldn’t give Kendrick Lamar album of the year after denying him in two previous years, even despite the fact that he is currently one of the most influential voices in popular music. They couldn’t give Kesha an award after years of public legal battles and writing an album and song about overcoming her traumas and sexual abuse. Even after watching her powerfully perform that same song with a group of women, emotionally moving everyone in attendance, they couldn’t give it to her.
There was of course backlash from people everywhere regarding the gender gap in the awards. A study from USC published a few days before the show went viral after it was found they had reported that only 9.3 percent of Grammy nominees between the years 2013 and 2018 were women.
To top it all off, the president of the Recording Academy had the guts to say that women in music need to “step up” if they want to win awards and have higher positions within the music industry. He later apologized for the statement, but truly, how big of a swing and a miss could the Grammys have taken this year, especially after the publicity around a racially diverse set of nominees and performers? How can the president of the Recording Academy not have the wherewithal, after receiving so much negative feedback, to not double down on disparaging women’s influence and importance in the music community?
As a fan of music, the Grammys have always been odd. Every now and then they will surprise with a decision that doesn’t completely miss the mark, but more often than not, the Grammys and their voters prove to be glorified chart-checkers, scouting the Billboard 100 and giving awards to whomever may sit at the top. However this year they seemed like they were even a little tenuous on doing that, as displayed by “Despacito” being denied in two major categories, Record and Song of the Year, despite having been unquestionably the most popular song of 2017.
I wish that this were more surprising than it actually is. Hopefully in the future the Recording Academy and its voters will evolve and diversify so that they may actually represent those who are the best of their art form. Maybe in a world that gives access to endless amounts of all art forms such as movies, music, literature, painting and more, we as consumers should stop allowing academies to make decisions on what we hold to be the best of its kind, valuable, or important. So to hell with “there’s always next year,” it’s time we take things into our own hands.