Review of the 63rd Grammy Awards

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Chris Pizzello

https://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/2021-grammy-awards-taylor-swift-thanks-boyfriend-joe-alwyn/

The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, aka the Scammys, were hosted by Trevor Noah on March 14th. The show featured iconic performances from the lovely goddess Taylor Swift and fashion icon Harry Styles, as well as other impressive showings from artists like Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, and Meghan Thee Stallion. The show opened with Harry Styles looking as fine as ever and quickly moved into awards. As it was announced that Justin Beiber’s Yummy lost in the Best Pop Solo Performance category, we are more than ecstatic to present you with our take on the 2021 Grammy Awards. 

 

The Grammy nominations were announced on November 24, and they were…controversial. Most notably, the Weeknd was completely absent in the nominations despite the success of his album, After Hours, and the many weeks that his single Blinding Lights spent atop the charts. The Weeknd tweeted later that day that “The Grammys remain corrupt” and as a result, many artists, including Nicki Minaj, Teyona Taylor, Zayn Malik, and Halsey, shared their condemning opinions on the Recording Academy, citing a lack of representation in some categories and the alleged bribing that is a part of the nominations process. Although we can’t change the prestige associated with the Grammys, we would like to stress that this awards show is plagued with problems and that, as we will soon explain, this whole affair is inexcusably chaotic.

 

The categorization of the awards was quite controversial, with multiple artists upset with inaccurate genre categorization; Phoebe Bridgers, for example, was nominated for two rock categories even though she is an alternative/indie artist. Justin Beiber’s Changes album was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album. In response to this, Justin took to Instagram with his thoughts: “I set out to make an R&B album. Changes was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me.” Taylor Swift was also placed in a lot of pop-focused categories even though Folklore had a very distinguishable alternative/indie sound. 

 

As we discuss each category, we will note the (many) songs and albums that simply should not be there. This year, the music industry has changed, as many artists are abandoning the late 2010s pop sound with more muted songs with a focus on lyrics and instrumentals. Although we all bopped to “Closer” and “Despacito” during our middle school summers, ‘underground’ and ‘indie’ music taste is becoming more and more coveted. The Grammys completely failed to adapt to this year’s trends in music and did a complete disservice to many artists. Taylor Swift’s nomination in pop categories was only present because of her big name; the alternative category, the real genre of Taylor’s recent music, was not even televised. Maybe the Grammys will be more tolerable when members of the Recording Academy get on TikTok, but until then, let’s just roll our eyes and complain that the older generation doesn’t understand us. 

 

Best New Artist – Reese 

Megan Thee Stallion — Winner

Ingrid Andress

Phoebe Bridgers

Noah Cyrus

Chika

D Smoke

Doja Cat

Kaytranada

 

Megan Thee Stallion’s triumph in the Best New Artist category was expected, but, in my opinion, disappointing. Megan had a record-smashing year. I bet everyone who is reading this has been graced with “Savage” and “WAP,” and Megan absolutely deserves to be recognized for her success. However, my issue with this win is that when I saw the nominations for the first time, I was shocked to see Megan in this category because I do not consider her to be “new.” Maybe it’s just because she’s been blowing up all year, but either way, I kind of expected the Best New Artist nominees to be a little less known. In my opinion, the Best New Artist category should be a way to give lesser-known new artists a platformㅡsomething Megan does not really need. I personally have to concur with a tweet from Elton John addressed to Phoebe Bridgers: “If you don’t win at least one [Grammy], I’m going to hit someone, OK?” Alas, Megan pulled through and secured one of her three Grammys from the night. 

 

Best Pop Solo Performance – Reese

“Watermelon Sugar” — Harry Styles — Winner

“Yummy” — Justin Bieber

“Say So” — Doja Cat

“Everything I Wanted” — Billie Eilish

“Don’t Start Now” — Dua Lipa

“Cardigan” — Taylor Swift

 

This category has been talked about on TikTok for weeks. Harry Styles’ fans argue that, although Watermelon Sugar isn’t his best song, Harry deserves a Grammy. Swifties like ourselves, however, believe that the masterpiece that is Cardigan should be recognized as such. At least Harry and Taylor fans alike can agree that  Yummy’s sheer nomination is a disgrace. Inevitably, Harry triumphed with his first Grammy win. This category is definitely an example of improper nominations. Although the bridge of Cardigan is an absolutely magnificent and unparalleled work of art, Cardigan is not a pop song, whereas Watermelon Sugar is. Watermelon Sugar is the better pop song, which leaves Swifties quite upset that Cardigan never really stood a chance in this improper categorization. 

 

Best Pop Vocal Album – Payton

“Future Nostalgia” — Dua Lipa — Winner

“Changes” — Justin Bieber

“Chromatica” — Lady Gaga

“Fine Line” — Harry Styles

“Folklore” — Taylor Swift

 

I think that we all knew that Dua Lipa was going to take home at least one grammy from the evening, but this particular award was hurtful. Sure, it was expected, but it hurt. As mentioned previously, there were a number of albums that should not have even been included in this category: Changes, Folklore, and even Fine Line. Folklore is defined as an Indie albumㅡnot one song is even reminiscent of the pop sound. It can even be argued that Fine Line is not necessarily a pop album because although it has pop elements, its entire sound is more reminiscent of alternative. There were other albums that should have been included in this category including After Hours by The Weekend, Map of the Soul: 7 by BTS, and How I’m Feeling Now by Charli XCX. There were a plethora of pop albums that were not recognized in this category, and it left Reese and I feeling a little disappointed in the Recording Academy’s nominations. 

 

Song of the Year – Payton

“I Can’t Breathe” — H.E.R. — Winner

“Black Parade” — Beyoncé

“The Box” — Roddy Ricch

“Cardigan” — Taylor Swift

“Circles” — Post Malone

“Don’t Start Now” — Dua Lipa

“Everything I Wanted” —  Billie Eilish

“If the World Was Ending” — JP Saxe featuring Julia Michaels

 

When the winner of song of the year was announced, Reese and I were slightly disappointed that Cardigan did not get any recognition. However, I Can’t Breathe was filled with important symbolism regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and the murder of George Floyd. The line from the song that stood out to us the most was when H.E.R sings “destruction of minds, bodies, and human rights. Stripped of bloodlines, whipped and confined.” This song covers the struggles that people of color face as well as creates a dialogue on systemic racism. Because of its cultural significance and symbolism, H.E.R.’s song rightfully deserves  the award due to its significance and symbolism, which is especially relevant with the Derek Chauvin trial. 

 

Album of the Year – Reese

“Folklore” — Taylor Swift — Winner

“Chilombo” — Jhené Aiko

“Black Pumas” (Deluxe Edition) — Black Pumas

“Everyday Life” — Coldplay

“Djesse Vol. 3” — Jacob Collier

“Women in Music Pt. III” — Haim

“Future Nostalgia” — Dua Lipa

“Hollywood’s Bleeding” — Post Malone 

 

The moment that every Swiftie has been waiting for: a category not restricted by the pop genre where an album like Folklore stands a chance. The world held its breath, and when it was announced that Folklore won the Album of the Year, Payton and I screamed. Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff, a producer of the album, sprung up and did the same handshake that they did when the two won Album of the Year in 2016 for Taylor Swift’s 1989. This historic award marked Taylor’s eleventh Grammy win and third Album of the Year award, following Fearless in 2010 and 1989 in 2016. This meant that Taylor Swift made history by becoming the first female artist to win Album of the Year three times. I truly have nothing more to say than that Payton and I slept well that night.

 

Record of the Year – Payton

“Everything I Wanted” — Billie Eilish — Winner

“Black Parade” — Beyoncé

“Colors” — Black Pumas

“Rockstar” — DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch

“Say So” — Doja Cat

“Don’t Start Now” — Dua Lipa

“Circles” — Post Malone

“Savage” — Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé

 

The Record of the Year Award is highly regarded as the most important award of the evening. According to the Recording Academy, the award is made to “honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to sales or chart position.” The award was given to Billie Eilish, who in the past, has received lots of  hate towards the amount of awards she won in 2020 (6 nominations, 5 wins). I was surprised that Billie won the award, only because she took home so many in 2020; I was anticipating Dua Lipa or Doja Cat to win due to their popularity. Also many of the nominations were actually released in 2019, rather than 2020, which poses an interesting consideration into how these songs are chosen for nomination. 

 

We hope everyone enjoyed this completely unbiased recap and commentary on the 63rd Grammy Awards. Although there were many other categories and many more snubs, frankly, we don’t know enough about the other genres to speak on them well. We also want to acknowledge Beyonce’s historic win: Beyonce became the most awarded woman in Grammys history with her win in the Best R&B Performance Category, marking her 28th win. Hopefully the Grammys will one day take note of actual music trends and rid themselves of corruption, but in the meantime, they’ll live in our minds as the Scammys.