The milestone of becoming a Grammy-nominated artist in the increasingly competitive music industry is gratifying, to say the least. But the 61st Annual Grammy Award nominations heavily relied on chart positions rather than recognizing the quality of the musician’s art.
On Sunday, Feb. 10, this year’s Grammy awards ceremony held at the Staples Center proved to be sub-par whether it be performances or the controversy surrounding “Music’s Biggest Night” that has fallen from grace in the recent years.
Quality control from a technical perspective is just as substantial as the emotion creatively expressed. Alicia Keys remarkably hosted the ceremony with graceful charisma but the disorganized production was difficult to ignore.
Quite a few performances had issues with the mix, an example of this is when artist Post Malone teams up with the Red Hot Chili Peppers unite to perform “Dark Necessities”. The lead guitars were ear piercing and lead singer Anthony Kiedis takes the stage missing cues throughout the song.
Another performance that felt poorly executed was the tribute to Motown that featured greats such as Smokey Robinson and Jennifer Lopez. Though Robinson is Motown Records Vice President, a portion of Lopez’s vocal performance was pre-recorded.
Motown classics such as The Contours’ “Do You Love Me” and the Marvelettes “Please Mr. Postman” were released when racial integration was more prevalent and to have them be lip-synched by Lopez is an odd display.
Lopez has even received backlash from fans who strongly feel she doesn’t have the right to perform celebrating the 60th anniversary of Motown records. Robinson has even issued a statement defending Lopez, stating, “ JLo was great and we at Motown love her. The beauty of Motown is that we’re a family made up of black, white, Hispanic, Asian women and men. So I hope knowing these few facts helps you get your perspective together and think about the hate you’re spreading.”
Throughout the ceremony, multiple artists had their acceptance speeches cut short after winning a Grammy in a specific category. Artist Drake last attended the event in 2013 and being awarded “The Best Rap Song” for “God’s Plan” trophy, but he was cut off mid-speech by a commercial break.
Another instance of sub-par time management was when the category for “The Record of the Year” was announced and Donald Glover’s “This Is America”. In Glover’s attendance, his producer Ludwig Goransson and mixing engineer Derek Ali took to the stage only to have Ali’s speech snubbed.
More aspects of the award ceremony were cut short because pop icon Ariana Grande won the “Best Pop Vocal Album” for “Sweetener,” but producer Ken Ehrlich chose not to televise her victory.
Grande previously intended to perform at the Grammys but due to creative differences she chose to withdraw from the lineup labeling Ehrlich a liar on social media after he told the Associated Press he “felt it was too late to pull something together.”
If the Grammys want to broaden their target audience, they should limit the time dedicated to critically-acclaimed artists of the past such as Aretha Franklin and Dolly Parton. Acknowledging genres like pop, country, R&B, and hip-hop will attract a younger audience.
There needs to be a balance of newer artists introducing a blend of two genres like the opening performance that featured Camila Cabello and Young Thug’s Latin pop hit “Havana”. Enduring the few hours for only a few memorable performances made this year’s ceremony lackluster through the majority.
Over time, the Grammys has become a popularity contest which is destructive to the artists who don’t get nominated and even to those who do. The validation associated with this long-running ceremony creates a standard of the qualities that records are supposed to have.
The avant-garde element has lead to artists taking fewer risks and focusing more on the commercial success of their records. At the end of the day, a song is a commodity, but the Grammys couldn’t have made it any more apparent.