5th April 2021

By Shyam

The biggest night in music, the Grammys, were held on Monday 15th March. After what was a long and polarizing year, many fans (including myself) were looking forward to a night of celebration. A celebration of music, of people and the art they produce. However, as usual, they arrived amid a cloud of controversy.

The Recording Academy’s decision to snub multiple major artists once again brought up questions about their selection process. This year, however, was the most controversial. The Weeknd released his fourth studio album “After Hours“, which was received well by critics and fans alike for its immersive production, flawless songwriting and well-crafted tracklist. A notable highlight was the track “Blinding Lights” which peaked at number one in thirty-four countries and shattered record after record on its way to 2 billion streams (and counting). To state it in no uncertain terms, The Weeknd was the biggest personality in music this year. It’s easy to understand the backlash when the Grammys chose not to include him in any nominations while offering a weak and quite frankly insincere apology when confronted about it. Many artists over the years mentioned the “lack of transparency” in the voting process and have alleged that favouritism and prejudice play a role when deciding which artists get nominated. The Weeknd echoed these thoughts, calling out the “opaque election process” and stating he would no longer be submitting his work to the Grammys. The Grammys losing the support of (arguably) the biggest artist in the world right now, and numerous others is a pathetic reflection on how the industry as a whole treats artists and the work they produce.

However, it wasn’t all bad. Women made history at the 2021 Grammys with Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish winning Album and Song of the year respectively with “Folklore” and “Everything I Wanted”. Megan Thee Stallion also won Best New Artist (although I would have preferred Phoebe Bridgers for Punisher) and H.E.R picked up her 3rd Grammy for her powerful single “I Can’t Breathe” which came in light of the police brutality that plagued America across the year. A big step in the right direction. In a year characterized by hardship, political turmoil and the pandemic, creators used their platforms to speak on issues that resonated with people and they deserved to be recognized for their work. The under-representation in the Grammys is not only insensitive but irresponsible. We can only hope next year is better.


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