By Isaac Messinger | The Broadside (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The 60th Grammy Awards, an award show that consisted of a panel of judges who were replaced entirely by sentient jars of mayonnaise that don’t even have ears, and have actually never had the concept of music explained to them.
It’s no secret that the recent Grammy awards were an utter circus of incompetence and tastelessness, a numbing mosaic of how out of touch the show really is with the music and culture of the last year, or even decade. I’d ask where we should start, but posing such a question is both pointless and tasteless, like asking a two year old child why they don’t know how to use a toilet yet.
That said, we’ll begin on a non-negative note, with some words in defense of the 24-carat jukebox of talent that is Bruno Mars: Hey Bruno! It’s not your fault. If you were, for some reason, aiming any ill will towards Mr. Mars, I’d like to redirect your rage. “24K Magic” is not a bad album. “That’s What I Like” is not a bad song. Bruno Mars is not a bad artist. He’s just not great, and he certainly is not better than Kendrick Lamar, or Jay-Z, or Lorde, or any of the artists that were his rivals.
The problem isn’t that the Grammys picked such a mediocre winner so many times, it’s that they failed, time and time again, to pick excellent ones. And my God, there were some top notch choices in this year’s nominees. Perhaps that’s what made this year such an absolute bummer.
We were made to believe that this would be the year that the Grammy awards finally saw the light, with relevant and talented artists like SZA, Khalid, Jay-Z, and Childish Gambino up for awards. But no, like a heat seeking missile rewired to only target mediocrity, the Grammys pulled a fast one on everybody by totally ignoring all the great artists that they themselves had nominated in favor of being utterly boring.
The big three awards, (song, record, album, of the year) were an exercise in increasingly suspended disbelief as everybody in watching wrinkled their foreheads in confusion. By the time Bruno had collected both record and song of the year, I was convinced that the fun had been had and Album of the year would go to either Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, or Donald Glover. That the Grammys would finally show themselves to be a culturally relevant awards ceremony, finally become something worth watching.
Instead, a million people simultaneously hurled their phones at the wall as the biggest award of the 60th Grammys was tossed away into the dustbin of music history.
To illustrate just how incompetent this year’s judges were, let’s take a look at the best new artist category. The nominees were: Khalid, Lil Uzi Vert, Julia Michaels, SZA and Alessia Cara. Three of those choices are phenomenal, (Uzi, SZA, Khalid) one is alright, (Julia Michaels) and one is a washed up pop artist from last year (Sorry Alessia). I’m sure you can guess who won.
The fact that the Grammys couldn’t get it right even with a stacked deck is exasperating, the equivalent of hitting a tree on the Bonneville Salt Flats (there are no trees on Bonneville, it’s a gigantic dry lake bed.) while riding a bicycle with a GPS designed to detect trees.
Trees aside, let’s talk about the elephant (or should I say goat) in the room: Kendrick Lamar. At this point, nobody is denying that Lamar is one of the greatest rappers, and probably one of the greatest artists today, if not all time.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’d know that this isn’t the first time the Grammy awards have failed to acknowledge Lamar, as we now have a trifecta of spectacular snubs. Even worse, his album nomination for this year, “Damn”, is by far his most commercially appealing project, a shoe in for the album of the year award both by the numbers and from a critical standpoint.
But for whatever reason, the Grammys fail to acknowledge the state of the culture, choosing to remain ignorant to hip-hop music, a genre that seems to have become the most popular in the country by a large margin in my opinion.
To belabor the point, arguably the three most influential artists in the game right now, Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and Drake have boycotted the show for multiple years running. I’ll say those names again: Frank Ocean. Kanye West. Drake. If that doesn’t make a statement I don’t know what does. I rest my case.
But ultimately it doesn’t matter, because it’s already too late for the Grammys. They have shoved themselves so far into irrelevance that many people, (myself included) no longer care about the awards, let alone consider them a respectable opinion on what music is great. It’s common knowledge that they are nothing more than a popularity contest, but this time around the most popular artists, songs, and albums (which also happened to be some of the best) didn’t even win.
So if the award is no longer a measure of popularity or goodness, where does that leave the Grammys? Oh wait, who cares?