The Grammys are happening on Sunday and I’m excited about the show itself, about how they’re going to pull it off, or not. In all the promotion leading up to the event, show producers have gone out of their way to make it clear they’ve planned this to NOT be a virtual event – nothing is happening on Zoom and the performances will either be truly live or previously live-to-tape. As executive producer Ben Winston told The Hollywood Reporter, they’re “going for it”, taking a big swing, so from the production side, I’m curious to see how they execute their ambition.
Despite their best efforts though, with two days to go before the show, the show itself is not the dominant Grammys conversation. Like the Golden Globes a couple of weeks ago, the integrity of the awards themselves is being challenged. Earlier this week Zayn Malik tweeted this:
Fuck the grammys and everyone associated. Unless you shake hands and send gifts, thereâ€™s no nomination considerations. Next year Iâ€™ll send you a basket of confectionary.— zayn (@zaynmalik) March 9, 2021
That’s not unlike what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was being accused of where the Globes are concerned. And yesterday it was The Weeknd declaring that, “Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”
That statement is part of a New York Times piece breaking down the Grammys controversy, its secret committees, and how over the last couple of decades, the awards seem to have otherised Black artists and kept them out of the top categories: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. Traditionally the final Grammy of the night, and therefore considered its most prestigious award, is Album of the Year. No Black artist has won Album of the Year since Herbie Hancock in 2008. When you think about the influence that Black creatives have had on the music industry, and the Black musicians (Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and the list goes on and on) who have shaped the culture since 2008, many of whom the Grammys have depended on to generate interest in their brand, the gap is undeniable. But this is also why Beyoncé has, more and more, been driven by cultural currency rather than the established status quo markers of success. Beyoncé leads the field, by the way, with the most nominations this year and is the most-nominated female artist in the history of the Grammys. But you will note, she has never won Album of the Year and her only win in a major category is Song of the Year for “Single Ladies” and that was in 2010, before what is widely considered to be her most creatively innovative decade that saw the release of the albums 4, Beyoncé (her self-titled album that, literally, CHANGED THE F-CKING GAME, when she dropped it, with no warning and no advance publicity, basically in the middle of the night and totally disrupted the entire industry), and Lemonade.
This, then, is the cloud hanging over the recording academy as we head into Grammys weekend and “music’s biggest night”. Which, in addition to the artists who have been overlooked, is also unfair to the artists who will win on Sunday. As Wassim Slaiby, The Weeknd’s manager, told the NYT:
“The Grammys should handle their legacy and clean it up to raise the bar to a level where everyone could be proud to hold up that award.”
So who’s actually winning this weekend? I’ve read several prediction pieces and right now people seem to be split between Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift in the major categories. Vulture thinks it might be a major Dua Lipa takeover. Get ready for all kinds of debate on Sunday night and Monday. At least until the Oscar nominations come out on Monday morning, at which point that’ll be the discourse. You know who’ll be happiest about that? The British royal family. They need people to be focusing on anything but their mess.
To go back to predictions though…we are doing some of our own. Sarah’s Oscar nominations predictions post is coming up soon!
Yours in gossip,