Another year. Another Grammys. Another telecast that extinguished fans’ hopes of a forward-thinking awards show, in favor of a night that celebrated men, pop music, and not much else.
Several months ago, we celebrated the Grammy nominees’ slate for its impressive diversity, with its major categories dominated by artists of color. In the lead-up to the awards, we hoped that song or record of the year could be claimed by a rap song, or a Spanish-language track via Despacito, for the first time in modern-day Grammys history. And with such a strong hip hop field, led by Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z, 2018 seemed like the Grammys where voters would finally take the genre seriously, hopefully with a long-overdue album of the year win.
That’s not what happened Sunday night. Bruno Mars swept the main categories with his pop-friendly brand of R&B that shares much more of its DNA with Ed Sheeran than Beyoncé. Jay-Z went 0 for 8 in his nominations, despite being feted with the Recording Academy’s Industry Icons award at Clive Davis’ party the night before. Alessia Cara won best new artist over SZA, a disappointing choice that still managed to be the only solo award a female artist would take home during the telecast. And the Grammys extended their shameful streak of awarding album of the year to the obvious radio-friendly pop release over the category’s more critically-acclaimed hip hop nominee.
Just look at the dismal album of the year trajectory since 2014, in which Daft Punk, Beck, Taylor Swift, Adele and now Bruno Mars have beaten, in order, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé and, with last night’s defeat of Damn, Kendrick Lamar once again.
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