I have been a music journalist for almost a decade. Not once have I written about the spectacularly uninformed glitz-fest that is the Grammy Awards.
Mostly, it's because I just hate them. But that's hardly an original opinion. It's practically a cliche at this point. The award show did its thing Sunday night, and already the outrage machines have started spewing out think-pieces as to some specific slight or another. I'm sure they're all correct. The Grammys are an easy target.
See, it's an incredibly predictable process. The best-selling album typically wins the prestigious Album of the Year award, especially if the artist who made that album is white. This year, the best-selling album nominated for Album of the Year was Adele's 25. Adele is white. 25 won Album of the Year, surprising absolutely no one.
The Grammys pretend to be unbiased. They pretend like money and race aren't issues here. Grammys.com describes the awards as "truly a peer honor, awarded by and to artists and technical professionals for artistic or technical achievement, not sales or chart position."
I'd laugh if I weren't so offended at that brash attempt to lie to me. Sales numbers and popularity are practically the only thing that matters at the Grammys. It's certainly not critical acclaim. The website albumoftheyear.org aggregates album reviews and assigns them a rating based on how much critics liked them, similar to what Rotten Tomatoes does for movies. The best albums released in 2016 according to albumoftheyear.org were Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' Skeleton Tree; Bon Iver's 22, A Million; Beyoncé's Lemonade; Solange's A Seat At The Table; and Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool. Only Beyonce's album got a nomination for Album of the Year, and it didn't win.
I don't mean to demean Adele, since 25 is a great album, and frankly, I really liked seeing Adele in concert. But where the hell is Kanye West when you need him? Adele, Im'ma let you finish, but Lemonade is one of the best albums of all time. It really is in a completely different stratosphere artistically than 25. Again, Adele is a wonderful singer who writes somewhat predictable pop songs with sad lyrics about heartbreak. But she writes about love and loss generically, and one-dimensionally. Beyoncé wrote about heartbreak in a way that is the culmination of her entire career, showing multitudes of emotion, from defiance to sorrow to desiring revenge, in the processing of a deep betrayal. It is, lyrically, musically, and emotionally, a stronger album. Lemons into lemonade, indeed.
But don't take my word for it. Take Adele's: "My album of the year is Lemonade," she said after the show. "What the fuck does she have to do to win?"
Of course, this is a predictable trend from the Grammys in the past few years in which white artists who made safer, less ambitious albums beat out black artists. Taylor Swift beat Kendrick Lamar in 2016. Beck beat Beyoncé in 2015. Daft Punk beat Kendrick Lamar in 2014. Mumford and Sons (!) beat Frank Ocean in 2013.
When will the Recording Academy, the organization responsible for nominating and voting for the Grammy winners, realize that sticking to traditional is what killed the music industry in the first place? Me, I'm just going to go back to hating the Grammys from a distance again. There are greater things to worry about, after all.
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