The Grammys and What They Mean for Music

Each year music lovers brace for the annual award show that defines the industry’s past year while laying the foundation for trends and artists to watch in the year to come. This award show, the Grammys of course, are essentially known as the Olympics of English language music. They are a-60-year tradition that mark the pinnacle of musical proficiency and success, which is only furthered by the fact that some of the most successful musicians of all time have never won the award.

Among those who have never won the award are Bob Marley, pop Icon Katy Perry, Guns N’ Roses, and Tupac. While each of the previous artists have impacted the music industry profoundly and positively, this impact does not always lead to a winning vote by The Recording Academy. Because of this, being a legend is not defined by winning a Grammy, but it certainly helps to cement a musician’s status in the history of music.

This year, the 60th iteration of the Grammys took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City, which ironically is a ‘bucket list venue’ for many performers. It was the first time since 2003 that the Grammys had been hosted outside of Los Angeles. Performing at Madison Square Garden means you have reached the top tier of stardom, so imagine the feeling of winning a Grammy in the iconic venue. For all of the nominees it is a dream, but for few it is a reality. During the televised portion of the awards show, no more than nine out of 84 awards were handed out on-air, showcasing the Academy’s emphasis on performance during the annual broadcast.

Like any prolific award ceremony, especially ones in the #metoo era of 2018, this year’s ceremony came with its fair share of controversy. In the midst of the women’s movement society is currently undergoing, the only female nominee for ‘album of the year’ was Lorde. Furthermore, she was not invited to perform a track off of the album up for the award. She was the only artist nominated for album of the year who was not asked to perform a track off of their album.

In addition to Lorde, other album of the year nominees included Bruno Mars who won, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, and Kendrick Lamar. Bruno Mars was the stand out artist of the award show this year, after being nominated for six Grammys and winning all six awards. These included album of the year, record of the year, and song of the year making him the 10th artist in the history of the Grammys to win the trio of awards in one night.

Another noteworthy (and unsurprising) winner of the night is the recently engaged Ed Sheeran, who won best pop vocal album for Divide and best pop solo performance for “Shape of You.” Kendrick Lamar may not have won album of the year, but he did win both the best rap performance category and best rap/sung performance in addition to best rap song and best rap album. Both artists proved that they are still forces to be reckoned with, and certainly not ‘fleetingly’ famous after winning award after award.

Ultimately, what the 60th iteration of the Grammys taught us is that we still live in the era of Rap and R&B with both Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar being some of the biggest winners of the night. The Grammys do not typically include the same level of spotlight and activism that film award shows have been known to attract, but this year, even the Grammys had their share of commentary and controversy showcasing that no global platform is immune to the commentary of the times. Janelle Monae fully embraced the politically charged atmosphere of 2018, making an introduction for performer Kesha stating “We say time’s up for pay inequality, time’s up for discrimination, time’s up for harassment of any kind, and time’s up for the abuse of power.” The Grammy awards are an indicator for what is to come, and it has become very clear that the awards will need to embrace diversity, change, and awareness because the musicians are no longer staying quiet.

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