Tara O’Leary, Staff Writer |
The 2019 Grammy nominations are being announced Friday, December 7. As a big music fan, award shows have always sparked excitement for me. The performances are unforgettable, with elaborate stage designs and high fashion as the biggest names in music gather in one place. There are many different award shows celebrating various genres and achievements, but the biggest night in music belongs to the Grammys; it’s a night made for the best of the best and it is truly one to remember. However, my favorite night in music did not live up to expectations last year for me and many other viewers.
The 2018 Grammy’s had a large range of nominees. The competition appeared to be wide open and the night felt limitless, but that was not how it played out.
Last year’s show resulted in the trending “#GrammysSoMale,” after only one woman was televised winning a solo award. That woman was Alessia Cara, accepting her first Grammy as the year’s Best New Artist. She received so much backlash for her win that not only did she have to address it in a social media post, but she has since turned off her comments on Instagram.
With that said, the most controversial award of the night came in the Pop Solo Performance category. The nominees consisted of “Shape of You,” by Ed Sheeran; “Praying,” by Kesha; “Million Reasons,” by Lady Gaga,;“Love So Soft,” by Kelly Clarkson; and “What About Us” by Pink. Based off of the “#GrammysSoMale” “#I’m sure you could guess who that award went to.” Ed Sheeran was announced as the winner and Twitter exploded saying that the other four women (Kesha, especially) were snubbed.
On a night where stars graced the red carpet with white roses in support of the “Times Up” and “Me Too” movements, Sheeran’s victory simply seemed out of place. Kesha delivered one of the most emotional performances of the night when taking the stage alongside other women, all dressed in white like the roses they carried earlier. Her hit, “Praying,” not only was a great piece of work but it was a culturally relevant song, leading many to describe the Grammy’s decision to award Sheeran as “tone-deaf.”
The argument can be made that Sheeran’s “Shape of You” was wildly popular, but the thing that I always loved about the Grammy’s is that they don’t just award what achieved the most mainstream popularity. Viewers saw this that same night when Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s hit, “Despacito,” lost in its three categories including both Song and Record of the Year. After spending 16 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart and eventually becoming the first Latin single to receive a diamond certification by the RIAA with over 10 million sales, it still lost.
Following the controversial award show, the disappointment continued. Recording Academy President, Neil Portnow, replied to criticism about the lack of diversity by stating that women just need to “step up,” as if there aren’t large amounts of successful female artists in the industry already. Last January the University of Southern California reported that only about nine percent of the 899 people nominated for Grammy Awards between 2013 and 2018 were women, showing that sexism in the music industry is still a huge factor.
Steps to address the blunders of the 2018 ceremony have been taken by the Recording Academy. They invited more women and people of color under the age of 39 to join this year’s 13,000 voting members. In June, their hopes of adding diversity continued with the expansion of four categories. Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year, all of which previously held five nominees, will now hold eight; allowing for a wider variety of artists to receive nominations. However, last year’s nominations were pretty diverse for the show and yet the night still played out in a disappointing fashion. With the larger categories being enforced this year, I am expecting to see a group of nominees that represent many different types of people. My only hope is that the diversity carries over into the actual show and is awarded.