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The Grammys and Reform

Personal Article

Following backlash from the 2020 Grammys, the Grammys has made notable changes in their categories and nominations. This brings up the question: Are they doing enough, or should they be doing more?

by Tanvi Prem

Numerous artists have called out the Grammys after the nominations for the 63rd annual Grammys were announced this Tuesday, November 24th. Following backlash from the 2020 Grammys, the award show has made notable changes in their categories and nominations.

This brings up the question:

Are they doing enough, or should they be doing more?

Why the Grammys are doing enough Reform:

According to Vanity Fair, "The organization invited over 2,300 members to join its voting ranks over the past year in an effort to diversify its nominations, with 74% accepting. After Black Lives Matter protests swelled across the world this past summer, the academy announced that its world-music category would be renamed best global music album in order to avoid what it said were “connotations of colonialism, folk, and ‘non-American,’” and that urban contemporary would become progressive R&B."

In addition, the Recording Academy (in partnership with the global organization Color of Change) established the Black Music Collective (BMC), a group comprising “prominent Black music creators and professionals who share the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Academy and the wider music community”. This group includes distinguished African American public figures, such as John Legend, Quincy Jones, and Debra Lee.

The BMC highlights how the 2021 nominations are “historic”, as “Ten Black women are nominated in the top four categories and more than 20 Black nominees are represented in the general fields. Also, for the first time, all six nominees for best rap album are Black independent artists. This is progress.”

Why the Grammys need to do more Reform:

Following the 2021 nominations, many artists have spoken out on social media criticizing the Recording Academy:

Nicki Minaj's tweet

In this tweet, American-Trinidadian rapper Nicki Minaj is referring to the 2012 Grammys. That year, she lost the "Best New Artist" award to the white musical group Bon Iver. Minaj is highlighting the apparent racism, continuing to demand change.

In this Instagram post, Canadian musical artist Justin Bieber is arguing that his most recent

Justin Bieber's Instagram story

album, Changes, should have been nominated in the R&B category instead of Pop.

The Grammys are notorious for placing African American artists in the R&B, urban, and rap categories regardless of the genres explored in their music.

Here, The Weeknd is calling out similar injustices, after not being nominated at all for the 2021 Grammys.

The Weeknd's Instagram story

His decorated album, After Hours, was snubbed, despite being nominated for 8 American Music Awards, and winning 3.

The album also composes of 2 Top-Ten singles in the Billboard Charts, and 6 singles on the BIllboard Global 200 list.

Additionally, its top single, “Blinding Lights”, set a record by spending the last 40 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.

Contrastly, according to Billboard,

"Jacob Collier’s Djesse Vol. 3 became the first album to be nominated for album of the year before making the Billboard 200, and Black Pumas’ self-titled album came just one chart spot away from doing the same. The Black Pumas album that was nominated is a deluxe edition of an album that was originally released in June 2019."

People are upset that for the first time, low-charting albums (such as Djesse Vol. 3) have been nominated, while popular albums (such as After Hours) have been snubbed.

Drake's Instagram story

Many significant musical figures, such as Drake, have spoken out publicly about this, and the need for an improved award show.

Are the Grammys doing Enough?

I believe the Grammys will continue to receive backlash no matter what they do, as (like the Academy Awards) their awards are not voted on by fans. The Recording Academy’s musical preferences may not directly align with the general population, so the nominees who win may not be the most popular. However, I think it is important for the Grammys to at least nominate top-charting, decorated albums.

In terms of diversity, I think that the Recording Academy is progressing with the world, as they are making a conscious effort to become more inclusive. Creating the BMC is a significant step that proves their seriousness to propel change. Although this year’s nominations lack certain artists and albums, they clearly encompass a racially diverse group of artists.

I believe that the Grammys are doing enough reform, but still should plan on doing more. Since they are an institution that has been built on traditions and practices for decades, I feel it is justifiable for them to achieve reform at a slow pace.

The world is rapidly evolving, and I believe the Grammys will steadily evolve, and eventually catch up with them.

What do you think?


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