As an avid music fan, I look forward to the Grammys each year. However, in recent years, many have criticized the award show for their adverse decisions about the winners, some of which audiences view as favoring blockbuster, average singers over the industry’s greatest pioneers.
Nevertheless, artists in the music industry have being making quite a stir in the past year leading up to music’s biggest night. To start off, one of the pop industry’s most outlandish artists has swept the music industry, and we are all here for it. Billie Eilish—an 18-year-old goth-pop singer and songwriter with an eerie, ill-fitting wardrobe who sings about murdering all her friends—is the hottest pop artist right now. Leaving the Grammys with a whopping five awards, four of which were main categories (Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, New Artist of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album), she was hands down the star of the night.
Her daring and intimidating aesthetic lurks through our Spotify playlists and the topics of our twitter feed. We can’t get enough of the bizarre singer who defies the sexualized template society made for her. She has been the first artist to sweep the “big four” since Christopher Cross in 1981. Many nominations this year were of thrilling, eccentric artists such as Lil Nas X with his unconventional rap/country crossover hit and Tyler the Creator with his queer and nontraditional pop arc album, IGOR. With artists like these and their names all over the Grammys, the music industry is shifting to meet our queer, changing world.
Another shifting aspect of this year’s award show was Tyler’s backstage speech after accepting the Grammy for Best Rap Album.
“It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything they always put it in a rap or urban category. I don’t like that ‘urban’ word — it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me.” – Tyler the Creator
The industry is shifting toward something good, but there’s still so much more to do in terms of representation across the genres. Rolling Stone’s Danny Schwartz described the winning album, IGOR, as a “rich and messy mélange of R&B, funk and rap” and synth-heavy with neo-soul melodies. Tyler’s innovative defies all genre boundaries and represents the direction music is heading. In his speech, Tyler argued that the media needs to recognize artists of color, usually placed in the rap category, as more mainstream rather than pigeonholed in these “urban” categories. It’s taken a while for the Grammys to even recognize music by black artists; artists such as Tyler walking away with awards like this is not a revelation or the end-all-be-all, it’s just one step closer to the respect black artists deserve.
One of the major snubs of last year’s Grammys was Adele’s 25 winning over Beyoncé’s Lemonade. We can all agree that Adele is one of the most talented artists of the past decade, however, Beyoncé’s innovative and conceptual visual album should have taken the crown.
The 2020 Grammy Awards tilted more towards a representation of what society is today rather than the majority white blockbuster industry that we’ve known, but artists deserve more than what the Grammys is giving them. I hope you can use this article to look at the Grammys a little differently—to applaud the success we’ve made in recognizing queer and innovative artists, but to still look toward what more the industry has to accomplish.
(Image 1- Getty Images, Image 2- Getty Images, Image 3- Getty Images)