Representation at the 60th Grammy Awards

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards took place in New York City for the first time in 15 years this past January 28, and while many still agree that it featured amazing, moving performances from the year’s most prominent artists, viewers still showed a strong backlash on social media about the musical board’s final award choices.

Hosted by late night show comedian James Corden, the evening started off with Kendrick Lamar’s XXX single featuring U2 lead vocalist Bono, a record which had received much positive critical acclaim from listeners due to the issues expressed within the lyrics concerning the country’s socio-political state. Soon after, British artist Sam Smith performed ‘Pray,’ a record inspired by his time in Iraq with the War Child charity organization for providing assistance towards children in places experiencing conflict and the aftermath of conflict.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9337195cj)
Kendrick Lamar performs onstage at the 60th annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden, in New York
60th Annual Grammy Awards – Show, New York, USA – 28 Jan 2018

Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee later performed their now nearly timeless “Despacito,” showcasing the notable rise of Spanish reggaeton pop in the country and the resulting diversity of the modern musical platform in America. Kesha’s powerful rendering of her top hit “Praying” (depicting the struggle against sexual abuse) was sung along with new up and coming female artists such as Camila Cabello and Julia Michaels as well as returning, familiar icons including Cyndi Lauper, moving the audience to tears towards the end. Logic’s suicide prevention anthem “1-800-273-8255” closed the evening’s performances with an earnest, soulful note.

Yet, for a ceremony packed with songs heavy with messages about current troubling contemporary issues, some viewers think the academy board did not give enough awards to further commemorate these artists’ efforts. Bruno Mars’ ‘24K Magic’ won Best Album, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year, taking home a total of six Grammys after competing with Fonsi, Lamar, and Jay-Z, whose eight nominations and zero wins sparked further outrage against the academy. Ed Sheeran’s Best Pop Single victory over P!nk, Lady Gaga, and Kesha also made people question why the board would award a song about the shape of a woman’s body over songs with themes of feminine strength and endurance.

However, it is important to note that both of these artists are immensely talented and well liked in general, and have only received a handful of Grammy awards in the past. Additionally, while the Grammys did not award Lamar with Record of the Year or Album of the Year, they did give him three awards under the Rap genre.

In all, based on the diversity in the nominations as well as the list of singing performances, most people believed the Grammys was going to be bolder in its statement of inclusivity towards more originally expressive pop music. Yet hopefully this year’s ceremony, at the very least, served as a sign that the ceremony are taking a first step towards reaching that point in the near future.

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