Are The Grammys Outdated?

Sunday night's Grammy's brought home some big winners: Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and Lil Nas X, to name a few. Most notably, Eilish swept all four major categories, beating out major stars like Ariana Grande, Post Malone, and Lana Del Rey. But it's Eilish's fifth Grammy-- her award for Best Pop Vocal Album-- that's calling a lot of attention. Is Eilish's WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? reallyyy "pop"?

Eilish's album not only broke records, but it also shattered genre conventions. She ranges from a soft ballad in "xanny", to rhythmic pop in "bad guy," to techno-like beats in "ilomilo." Her music encompasses not only pop, but also alternative, EDM, and indie genres. If you listen to her entire discography, you'll most likely find yourself struggling to find a label for her music. So why does she fall into the pop category?

 

A similar question can be raised when we look at Lizzo. She won a Grammy for "Truth Hurts" in the Pop Solo Performace category, another for "Jerome" in the Traditional R&B Performance category, and the album host Cuz I Love You won in the Urban Contemporary Album category. So is Lizzo a pop star? An R&B singer? A number of people would argue that she's neither, she's actually a rapper. Like Eilish, Lizzo seemingly doesn't care about being put into a genre box. So why do the Grammys still think it's necessary?

 

Trust me, I'm not the only one who's raised this question. Tyler, The Creator took home Best Rap Album for Igor, and while he was incredibly grateful for the honor, he also raised some pretty serious questions about the Grammys use of genres. Tyler questioned why his album couldn't be defined as pop and said the rap nomination "feels like a back-handed compliment." Oh, and he's not the only one to call the Grammys out for their ignorance about genre-breaking black artists. In 2017, Frank Ocean refused to submit his album Blonde for Grammy consideration, calling the awarding and nomination systems dated. Just last year, Kanye West refused to attend the ceremony, claiming that it's time for the Grammys to "stop playing with us." Both Ocean and West have been breaking genre conventions for years, so it makes sense that they're spearheading the campaign against the Grammys. It's time that other artists joined them.

 

In a world of music that's moving further away from strict genres, the Grammys just don't seem to fit in. Is it time to just rethink the process, or should we totally trash the whole awards show? It's hard to say. However, it's becoming increasingly clear to artists as well as fans that the current system is broken. Because the Grammys are so established, any change will probably be slow-coming. After all, Eilish and Lizzo were thrilled with their success, and Tyler, The Creator remained very gracious and thankful for his win. Unless more artists join Frank Ocean and Kanye West in their boycott of the show, we'll see this same issue arise next year.

Images from the Los Angeles Times