Home Homepage Feature Story Grammys: It’s Time We Stand Up For the People it Actually Doesn’t Happen to

Grammys: It’s Time We Stand Up For the People it Actually Doesn’t Happen to

by Emma Caughlan

It’s been over a week since the 65th Grammys aired on Feb. 5 and despite the distraction of this past weekend’s big game, I am still not over it. Specifically, I cannot stop thinking about the biggest award in music: Album of the Year.

Like so many others, the Grammys have left a bad taste in my mouth since I’ve cared about music. Now, one could argue that you can’t be a true music lover and care about the Grammys. A valid argument in my opinion. But I don’t think that should be the case.

Before I get into that, let’s talk about this year’s awards. Album of the Year has been a subject of controversy for quite a few years now. My earliest memory being the 59th Grammy Awards where Adele’s “25” beat Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” a mistake so obvious that even Adele herself mentioned it.

The next year a similar snub happened when Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” beat Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” It doesn’t take much thought to recognize the problematic nature of these decisions.

The 65th Grammys had the set-up for a redo of sorts with Lamar’s, Beyonce’s and Adele’s albums all being nominated. Many suspected Beyonce’s “Renaissance” to take home the big award. I can say personally I was pretty hopeful, especially considering that the Grammys seemed to know that they messed up last time.

Unfortunately, neither Beyonce nor Lamar won. Adele didn’t either, the award went to British pop-star Harry Styles’ “Harry’s House.”

I want to state first that I like Styles. I think he is a talented musician and he makes pretty good music. If it wasn’t for his most recent album, the one that won album of the year, I would say that he makes great music.

Styles was not alone in releasing an album that wasn’t quite up to par to former works, I would say that Beyonce and Lamar were both guilty of that too. But I say with complete confidence that both were significantly better crafted than Styles’ “Harry’s House.”

Obviously this was frustrating for me, as it was for many other music lovers. But it wasn’t worth writing an article over it.

What really drove me to write this was a Variety article that asked five Grammys voters about their decisions.

All were anonymous and all said things that were a bit concerning to me but I think the most being Voter one saying “Bad Bunny was by far the most commercially successful album of the year, but I think a lot of people have no idea who Bad Bunny is.”

Bad Bunny was the most streamed artist in the world on Spotify for the third year in a row in 2022. I think it’s safe to say that he’s pretty well-known. I won’t even get into the fact that the Grammys should not be a popularity contest.

And honestly, Bad Bunny is not something I would normally listen to either. But I listened to the album and if you know music, you should know that “Un Verano Sin Ti” was a fantastic album.

Obviously, you don’t need me to tell you that the Grammys are clearly biased against artists of color. And as sick as I am of the Grammys and their consistent incompetence, I don’t think that the answer should be to ignore them.

The Grammy being the most prestigious accolade in music is not going to change. But the voting pool and process clearly needs a bit of an overhaul. Yes, the United States is the main player in the music industry but it is not the whitewashed cesspool it used to be or at least to the listeners it isn’t. The Recording Academy needs to represent that.

Music has become more accessible, popular and inclusive as ever with the advances of social media. Now it’s time for us to use it to push back against the bias. Challenging something as big as the Recording Academy is daunting but I believe it is necessary. It’s much more productive than booing the artists who do win, even if undeserving.

Artists deserve to be recognized for their work and with an award that actually does hold prestigious value, and a few more streams to go along with it. That can’t happen without our voices. So get ready to defend SZA with our lives next year and don’t let the Grammys get away with another racially biased snub.

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