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The Grammy’s: An Analysis of Irrelevance

It’s no secret that the Grammys are becoming less and less relevant. This year, the viewership dropped to an all-time low. Objectively judging music is undoubtedly a difficult task, especially when the awards nominations are expected to appeal to a large audience and at the same time avoid pandering to the mainstream.

Awards ceremonies are predominantly voted for by a select body, and the Grammys are no different. But the question needs to be asked, who exactly is voting, and why are they voting for Bruno Mars? It’s not that he makes terrible music; his latest release is more of his same accessible, catchy pop tunes, but they don’t hold a candle to some of the other songs nominated in his categories. He won album of the year, beating Childish Gambino’s ‘Awaken My Love’, Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’, and Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Damn’. Every single one of those albums is better than Mars’ ’24K Magic’. Lorde’s release is her best to date, and Childish Gambino has progressed incredibly as an artist. Although ‘Damn’ may not be better than Kendrick’s last release ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’, had ‘Damn’ been released by any other artist, it would surely be their magnum opus.

A similar mistake occurred in the Record of the Year category, where Mars’ titular track ’24K Magic’ beat Kendrick’s ‘Humble’ and Childish Gambino’s ‘Redbone’. Whilst ‘Humble’ is not necessarily the best song in ‘Damn’, it is certainly better than ’24K Magic’. ‘Redbone’ on the other hand may be the best song off ‘Awaken, My Love’, and may, in fact, be one of Gambino’s best tracks yet. It was predominant in the meme culture of 2017, and remains one of the most recognisable and well composed contemporary hip-hop releases. ’24K Magic’ on the other hand was only trying to recapture the style and essence of ‘Uptown Funk’, and although that formula is catchy, how it ever managed to win its category, is beyond me.

However, not all the selections were terrible. LCD Soundsystem’s mid-album track ‘Tonite’ received a well-deserved win in the Best Dance Recording category, and Kraftwerk’s latest album ‘3-D The Catalogue’ won out in the Best Dance/Electronic Album. Kraftwerk are still making great music, and whatever many internet critics said, I was a huge fan of LCD Soundsystem’s new album. It was a roaring return to form for the dance-rock legends, and it’s nice to finally see them get some recognition.

Even so, the bad decisions outweighed the good. Mars beat Gambino in another category, Best R&B Song. Infuriating as it is seeing Mars taking the awards for best album and record, it would be impossible to say the same for any category concerned with R&B, a genre that Gambino dominated last year. It is just another example of why the Grammys’ constant pandering and focus on the mainstream depletes their relevance. Music is a progressive and evolving art form. New mediums of musical exploration and production allow for a greater breadth of artists to take the stage. The mainstream pop that dominated in the early 2000s no longer holds its grip over the audiences, and the Grammys needs to learn this, or they risk fading into irrelevance.

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