What’s Happened to the Charm of the Grammys?

By Joshua Foster-Storch

The Grammys have been making award show blunders for the last 10 years running. People started to stop paying attention to the Grammys after blunders like awarding Macklemore best rap album over Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z and Kanye West, who many people believe are among the best rappers of all time.  

And after what happened this year, it is not too shocking to see that people are starting to get the memo on what kind of award show the Grammys is.  There are reasons why the Grammy Awards viewing plummeted and dropped below 50% of what viewership was last year, from 18.7 million viewers to plummeting to 9.23 million viewers from 2020 to 2021.  

One such reason can be attributed to the highly criticized performance of the song “WAP” by rappers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion.  Besides being a song about female genitalia, the performance has been criticized rightly so for the overtness in how much sexualization was incorporated into this performance. For instance, at one point they were both laying spread eagle on the stage and simulated sexual acts on stage.  All this while the beat overtop was repeating “There’s some Wh– in this house.” This is not what should be on television, especially for a nationally broadcasted show like the Grammys.  

Another reason for this drop is that the Recording Academy, the people responsible for awarding Grammys, has turned the Grammys in recent years into a popularity contest.  Unlike the Oscars and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) where they award movies based on quality, the Grammy’s have awarded the artists nominated depending on popularity.  

Although that can be a good thing, the problem is that the way they go about awarding these artists is very skewed. For example, the Record of the Year award was given to the song “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R.  It is a very good song with a strong message which relates to the Black Lives Matter protests in June.  Therefore, not only was it a good song but also a culturally relevant one.  

I do not like to pick on a particular artist but it works here because Megan Thee Stallion won Best Rap Song for “Savage” because it was uber popular. However, Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” has a similar message to H.E.R.’s song and was widely hailed as one of the best songs of the year, yet did not win a single Grammy.  

Naturally this creates confusion because earlier the Grammys said a well written and widely praised song is Grammy worthy, but then snub a similar song in a different category for the popular song.

The Grammys should be not only a show that is appropriate for all ages, but also be consistent with the way they go about awarding artists so that viewers are not left wondering, “That doesn’t make any sense.”  Hopefully the Grammys can rectify these issues at some point so that people will go back to taking the award itself seriously.

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