By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: In what could be described as the darkest timeline for serious music fans, retro-sounding funk pop icon Bruno Mars swept the major awards at the 60th GRAMMY Awards on Sunday night. But we'll get back to Album of the Year in a moment. It was icing on the cake for a week that saw the GRAMMYs under fire when Lorde turned down performing during the televised ceremony because she wasn't allowed to perform solo. All of the male nominees were.
The ceremony itself wasn't much better. The most nominated female artist, upcoming alt-R&B star SZA lost in all of her 5 nominated categories, and Lorde, the only female nominee in the main categories, lost to the aforementioned Bruno Mars. It didn't get much better after the show, when Recording Academy President Neil Portnow word vomited this nonsense:
"It has to begin with... women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level. [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I don't have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it's upon us - us as an industry - to make the welcome mat very obvious, bredding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists"
But don't worry, GRAMMYs producer Ken Ehrlich has hope that Taylor Swift will take up the torch for women next year. "She was kind of off cycle. Hopefully we'll see her next year."
Onto the actual awards.
As we mentioned above, Bruno Mars took the top award of the night, marking this the third undeserving AOTY to take the prize over Kendrick Lamar (previously Taylor Swift and Macklemore had that honor). Mars was easily the safest pick of the nominees. Despite being snubbed for AOTY, Lamar still took home many of the rap genre awards, including Best Rap Album.
"Despacito", one of the most popular songs in Latin music history, lost in every category that it was nominated in, proving that the GRAMMY voters have officially turned against Justin Bieber... or they weren't ready to let a song in Spanish win any of the top awards.
The War on Drugs rightfully claimed Best Rock Album, one of the lone bright spots of the evening, even though it wasn't part of the television broadcast. The obligatory dead rock star category, Best Rock Performance, went to Leonard Cohen for "You Want It Darker". Foo Fighters won for Best Rock Song.
Best Alternative Album was won by The National for their great album Sleep Well Beast.
Country was dominated by Chris Stapleton, who won the 3 categories he was nominated in, including Best Country Album. He also performed a good cover of Tom Petty's "Wildflowers" with Emmylous Harris.
Speaking of performances, it was a pretty mixed bag. The best of the night came from Kesha, whose rousing #MeToo/#TimesUp rendition of "Praying" captivated everyone. There was enough raw emotion to fill the otherwise dull ceremony and then some.
Kendrick Lamar's multi-part performance was also powerful. It was theatrical, timely, and Lamar himself was at the top of his game (which is something we didn't see during his mixed bag NCAAF Championship halftime show). Could have done without the Dave Chappelle interruptions, but I get it.
"I just wanted to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America."
On the flip side, U2's performance of "Get Out Of Your Own Way", outside with the Statue of Liberty in the background was a little to try hard for my tastes. But the worse by far was a cover of Eric Clapton's "Tears In Heaven" done by Eric Church, Maren Morris, and the Brothers Osbourne. Not only was the song selection a head scratcher (the song was originally written by Clapton for his young song who accidentally fell to his death in 1991), but the performance itself was fringe-worthy how pitchy and disconnected it was. Eric Church was the worst offender. Watch the below at your own risk.
Joseph: The GRAMMYs have always been frustrating, but this year it felt even more pointedly so. After dropping a surprisingly decent set of nominees, the GRAMMYs went with the lowest common denominator in nearly every category. Seeing Bruno Mars sweep every major award was just hilarious, and in hindsight it's pretty much exactly what I would expect the GRAMMYs to do.
I liked 24k Magic, no disrespect to Bruno Mars, but it was undoubtedly the weakest album in the AOTY list. Even if you were going to snub King Kendrick again, why don't you pick the lone female artist on that list in his stead?? Lorde's Melodrama was an accessible and (at least somewhat) safe album that was a massive follow-up for the Australian singer. This just points to the larger problem with the GRAMMYs: the voters are old and out-of-touch.
It's amazing, now, to see how stark the contrast is between "music's biggest night" and the Oscars, or "Hollywood's biggest night." When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences started to sense that they were becoming out-of-touch because their voter's average age was over 60, (and following two straight years of #OscarsSoWhite) they made the voting body more accessible and younger. And here we are, just two years removed from #OscarsSoWhite, and we have a diverse and joyous list of nominees. There's actually only one white American actor in the acting categories, and it's the son of a French immigrant. Meanwhile, the Recording Academy's sad excuse for a president has the nerve to say women need to "step up their game" as they lose most of their respective categories again, all while snubbing hip hop for a safe/generic pop album for the 3405th time in the AOTY category. Sure, Bruno Mars is Latino, but he also represented a nostalgic feeling pop album, one that would definitely appeal to an old and out-of-touch Recording Academy.
Sure, Kesha provided the most powerful moment of the night, but it felt somewhat hollow when you remind yourself that Lorde wasn't allowed to perform solo. She was asked to join in a tribute to Tom Petty, which doesn't make much sense anyway outside of the fact that Lorde is a fan of rock 'n' roll, but don't worry guys! We have time for three Sting features! Really? Three? And what was that U2 song? It was obviously pre-recorded, why did it need to be in the GRAMMYs at all? Oh wait, I know! Because the old farts that vote for these categories love U2 and Sting!
Oh, ya! Can we talk about Best Pop Solo Performance for a second? How does Ed Sheeran win that category? Social media is STILL up in arms over this disgusting decision. He beat four women who all had better songs than him, not to mention the fact that his song is pretty sexist IN ADDITION TO just being a generic mid-2000s pop song. Sheeran was wise enough to not show up at the GRAMMYs, (though I'm sure him skipping the GRAMMYs was due to logistical issues) but I doubt even he thought he would walk away with this win. I mean, even if two of the other songs split most of the votes, there was STILL enough dinosaurs that listened to all the songs in that category and said, with a straight face, "Ya. This Ed Sheeran song really speaks to me. It's the best song in this category." I'm sure next year will be at least a little different, but chances are Ken Ehrlich and others like him will think it'll all be ok to just rain GRAMMYs down on Taylor Swift again. Until the Recording Academy opens up to a younger voter base, it's going to be like this every year Taylor Swift/Adele don't make an album. The Recording Academy is akin to your racist uncle that claims he's not a racist because he has a black friend. Just because you rain down GRAMMYs on Taylor Swift/Adele doesn't mean you're not sexist dinosaurs, guys. Personally, I'm so done with the Recording Academy until they announce significant changes to their voting process. But, until then, the GRAMMYs can go F themselves.