Yet Another State Of The Grammy Blues
The 59th Grammy Awards, yet again saw Black Music dominating the awards with reigning performances and nominations but leaving pretty empty handed in all the main categories with another night of awards ceremony snubs. What started out as a huge night in anticipation of Beyonce’s chances of winning in the main award categories, ended with her receipt of just two awards out of her nine nominations and Adela asking “What the fuck does she have to do to win album of the year?”.
Yes we do truly love our own homegrown Adele who nailed a 5/5 score for wins to nominations but it did also feel like watching her do a Macklemore publicly and it just didn’t sit right. Standing on stage swamped by a sea of industry men, Adele admitted she couldn’t accept the biggest award of the night for ‘Album Of The Year’ but it all felt somehow disingenuous because after all she did go on and accept it.
Shockingly, the most nominated woman in Grammy history, Beyoncé, has never won in either category for ‘Record of The Year’ or ‘Album of the Year’ but this year it unanimously felt like it had to be her year. After delivering one of the best albums of her career with ‘Lemonade’, the failure of the Recording Academy to award Beyonce for none of the main awards had a lot of us wishing for another Kanye stage crashing moment sigh. Expectations had been riding high that this year’s awards wouldn’t be about a case of quantity over quality, after all back in 2015, Beck had somehow managed to win the award over Beyoncé in the same category. But alas yet again even Beyonce couldn’t move this mountain of mainly middle-aged men.
2017’s Grammy Awards were set against one of the most politically charged times in American history and came loaded with expectations that the industry’s musicians would project a rebel instinct and perform to resist. Although light in political charge but locked and loaded with subtle intent, the show went on with little political controversy but more ‘f words’ courtesy of Adele who pressed the restart button on her performance in tribute of George Michael, after a shaky start.
Regardless, it was Beyonce who took one of the rare moments on stage to make a moving statement. Fresh off of her gravity defying performance of ‘Love Drought’ and ‘Sandcastles, Beyonce read her only speech of the night, speaking of her intent on ‘Lemonade’ “to confront issues that make us uncomfortable — it’s important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty.”
Other snubs included a no win for Rihanna who had secured a total of 8 nominations alongside Kanye West (also a no win) and Drake who only managed to receive just two Grammy’s for ‘Hotline Bling’ in ‘Best Rap Song’ and ‘Best Rap/Sung Performance’.
But with all the usual disappointments in the main categories we still all gotta hail Chance the great. It was a great night for Chance The Rapper who despite having no actual album sales, campaigned hard for those rules to be changed to include streaming-only albums, and ultimately secured seven nominations. Taking away a total of three awards on the night for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album, Chance the Rapper was also the first black hip-hop artist since Lauryn Hill in 1999 to win Best New Artist. In his acceptance speech for Best Rap Album for ‘Coloring Book’, he shouted out SoundCloud for “holding me down”, instead of Apple Music, gave a pretty solid endorsement of the real champions who facilitated his charge for independence. Chance also brought out Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann for his performance of ‘How Great’ and ‘Music Is All We Got’ and true to form it was a grandiose energetically charged stage with a gospel choir and live band.
Grammy wins also came in for Gregory Porter for ‘Best Jazz Vocal Album’, Solange for ‘Best R&B performance’ and Kirk Franklin for ‘Best Gospel Album’. Standout performances of the night were undoubtedly from Bruno Mars with a worthy tribute to Prince, and A Tribe Called Quest who literally broke down the wall of silence and performed ‘We The People’ featuring Anderson .Paak and Busta Rhymes. Stepping to the stage, Busta made the only statement of the night directed to the US president in his verse, “I want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban.”
The Grammy’s while steeped in snubs on the night, was big on no-shows with some of the biggest nominated artists getting in their snubs first and not appearing on the night. Justin Bieber, Drake and Kanye were all a no-shows while Frank Ocean actually refused to submit his album for consideration penning an open letter pre-show in response to disparaging remarks from Ken Erlich the producer of the Grammy’s;
“OK Ken (and David). As much as I hate to make you guys famous or even respond to you directly, we all die one day and you’re old so f*ck it.
“Yea yea my 2013 performance at the Grammys was absolute sh*t. Technical difficulties, blah blah. Thanks for the reminder. Very much appreciated. F*ck that performance though. You think that’s why I kept my work out of the Grammy process this year? Don’t you think I would’ve wanted to play the show to ‘redeem’ myself if I felt that way?
“In reality, I actually wanted to participate in honoring Prince on the show but then I figured my best tribute to that man’s legacy would be to continue to be myself out here and to be successful.
“Winning a TV award doesn’t christen me successful. It took me some time to learn that. I bought all my masters back last year in the prime of my career, that’s successful. ‘Blonde’ sold a million plus without a label, that’s successful. I am young, black, gifted and independent… that’s my tribute.
“I’ve actually been tuning into CBS around this time of year for a while to see who gets the top honor and you know what’s really not ‘great TV’ guys? [Taylor Swift’s] 1989 getting album of the year over [Kendrick Lamar’s] To Pimp A Butterfly. Hands down one of the most ‘faulty’ TV moments I’ve seen.
“Believe the people. Believe the ones who’d rather watch select performances from your program on YouTube the day after because your show puts them to sleep.
“Use the old gramophone to actually listen bro, I’m one of the best alive. And if you’re up for a discussion about the cultural bias and general nerve damage the show you produce suffers from then I’m all for it. Have a good night.”
Before and on the night, 2017’s Grammy awards had already gotten off to a shaky start, and while the Recording Academy may have learned a few lessons, it clearly wasn’t enough to bring the awards out of it’s long running stalemate in the main categories. Regardless, of when and if the industry will ever change its ways, many fans are simply tired of it all, and Frank Ocean couldn’t have reflected those feelings any better. But despite it all, the music will stay winning, the artists will stay ‘Shining’.