Every year, I see at least a hundred tweets of people saying they don’t care about the Grammys. Then, when their favorite artist doesn’t win, it’s an outrage and all of a sudden they value the Grammys. Look, whether you know it or not, you care about the GRAMMYs in some capacity.
Anyways, the 59th Annual Grammy Awards just happened on the 12th and the big winner of the night was Adele, who took home five awards including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and most importantly, Album of the Year for her album 25.
Her win for Album of the Year garnered some heat though as she was up against Beyoncé’s Lemonade, which for many fans was the clear favorite. Heck, even Adele knew this and spent most of her speech praising Beyoncé.
This isn’t the first time this has happened though and won’t be the last. We saw Taylor Swift beat out Kendrick Lamar in 2016. Beck winning against Beyoncé in 2015. Daft Punk winning in 2014 up against Kendrick Lamar. I could go on and on from here.
The point is, the Grammys have proven time and time again to be out of touch with black contemporary music. The last time a black contemporary artist won the Album of the Year award was back in 2004 when Outkast won for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.
And going even further than that, the Best Urban Contemporary Award is really one of the dumbest awards the Recording Academy has ever presented for being some thinly veiled racism.
One of my favorite artists, Sufjan Stevens, said it best when asking “WTF” about the award: “It’s where the white man puts the incomparable pregnant black woman because he is so threatened by her talent, power, persuasion and potential.”
Recording Academy president Neil Portnow tried to douse the flames in an interview with Pitchfork by saying “I don’t think there’s a race problem at all,” citing Chance the Rapper’s win for Best New Artist.
While I’ll agree that Chance winning Best New Artist is a huge deal, it’s mainly a huge deal for the fact that the album he won it for was never put on sale as it was a streaming-only release, as recordings released solely through streaming services became eligible to enter the award process this year.
And if I didn’t make it clear, I do not blame Adele for beating Beyoncé. She did everything in her power to show her gratitude towards her and her album. The blame is squarely on the Recording Academy.
Even if you’re not a fan of Lemonade, you do have to admit that for Beyoncé, it was a pretty out there and risky album. Not only for the sensitive subject matter, but also for the variety of styles of music on the album that, for me at least, are successfully done.
25 in comparison is a fairly safe record for Adele. There wasn’t a drastic shift in style, it was simply another Adele album.
If the Grammys want to continue to claim that the awards are the biggest night in music and have some artistic integrity, it’s time to reshape their voting committee to the times, which means rewarding exciting and innovative music, the best of which is happening among black artists.
If you want to see the winners and nominees for this year’s Grammy Awards, visit https://www.grammy.com/nominees.