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HONEY'S 2021 GRAMMY REVIEW

Learn About Honey’s perspective on the 2021 Grammys - We talk music, performances, and of course a little controversy.

by KARA ford & anna blecker

editorial | 5/28/2021

Without fail, Grammy Awards night usually winds up being one of my favorite evenings of the year. It’s a time where I get to see all of my favorite musicians live in one place, showing off their skills and battling it out. It’s a night where I like to get a little critical, and reflect on who I thought was worthy of their win(s), and who was not.

The 63rd Grammy’s took place on March 14th, 2021. It was a Covid safe, socially distant affair, taking place on a much smaller scale than usual, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Given the pandemic restrictions, some of the performances were pre-recorded, and we watched our favorite artists don masks as they sang their hearts out to a half-empty theatre. It was certainly pretty surreal.

Highlights from the night included, Meghan Thee Stallion killing it with her song Savage (I mean it really was the song of this weird 2020 summer), and Best New Artist winner, Harry Styles giving a sexy and flamboyant performance of his hit, Watermelon Sugar. Harry Styles gives me early Maroon 5 vibes, and I am loving it. Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak showed us how a performance is done with their Silk Sonic debut live rendition of Leave The Door Open.

Also performing on the night was the incredible Cardi B and Dua Lipa, who took home the prize for Best Pop Vocal album. Kaytranada made history as the first black artist to win in the Dance/Electronic Category, and Taylor swift won her 3rd Album of the Year award, making history as the first woman to do so. And finally, Beyonce was crowned as the most awarded singer in the show's history, with now 28 wins. It was a great show overall, and a historic one for the books, for so many different reasons.

I can’t talk about the Grammys without covering the controversy that surrounds the awards… so let’s get straight into it.

Just about every year there is a degree of contention surrounding the Nominee picks by The Recording Academy, and with the events of 2020 sparking a newly energized focus on social justice issues, they were under even more scrutiny.

And they were very aware of it. At the start of every segment, a disclaimer flashed on screen stating that the production had made a deliberate effort to be inclusive.

This year, one of the main talking points was the fact that The Weeknd didn’t receive a nomination for a single category, despite having released a chart-topping album.

In the wake of the nominees being announced, he Tweeted:

His tweet received over 1.1 million likes, as this incident did raise questions about The Recording Academy. How could an artist who performed at the Super Bowl, with a smash hit record and enormous following go completely unrecognized?

I gave his record a much more thorough listen in the midst of the controversy, and I was personally very impressed. It had a solid 80s vibe, married with his typical slow, dark contemporary style.

Some people suspected that he was overlooked due to corruption within the Grammys machine, ie. The Academy perhaps favored artists they had received ‘gifts’ from. Others claimed that his absence from the list could have been due to racial bias.

The Awards have a long history of such accusations, with the 2014 ceremony in particular raising eyebrows the world over. Macklemore famously won in the Best Rap Album category, beating Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Jay Z. It was such a surprising win, that Macklemore himself apologized for it. More recently, Adele beat Beyonce in the Album of the Year category in 2017, which she referenced the absurdity of in her acceptance speech. Beyonce has more grammy wins than any other singer, but she is still yet to win the most coveted prize of Album of the Year. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift has had three consecutive wins for her last three albums. These instances will inevitably raise questions, but then again you cannot deny Taylor Swift's amazing songwriting talent, and ability to be so in tune with what listeners want, Adele’s absolutely incredible voice and moving songs, and Mackelmore’s groundbreaking album talking openly about LGBT love.

In the hopes of being able to analyze these theories more closely, I decided to do some research into how the Grammys actually work.

In order to vote for the Grammy Awards, you must be a member of The Recording Academy, and in order to qualify for membership, you must be either directly involved with music as a creator, or studying it at a high level. With artists being given the opportunity to vote for their fellow peers (or competitors), there is clearly room for nepotism to run rife within this system.

As such, it has sparked criticism from former employees, including Deborah Dugan, who once held the title of CEO of the Recording Academy. Her stint was short-lived, after having been asked to step down after allegations of misconduct by a senior member, but her claims about the voting system still have weight.

She complained that the Recording Academy members use the nominations ‘as an opportunity to push forward artists with whom they have relationships.’ Unsurprisingly, The Recording Academy staunchly denied these claims in their own response to these statements via press.

They also stated that 50 percent of their officers and executive committee are female, and 36 percent of its board members are female - perhaps more diverse than some on the outside might have assumed.

As an outsider, it’s difficult to get a gauge on exactly what is going on behind the scenes at The Grammys. But what we do know is that The Academy is doing its part to champion diversity. From the disclaimers at the beginning of this year’s ceremony, to the decision to have Trevor Noah as host. And who could forget that we saw the first ever black country singer performance from Mickey Guyton.

They also stated that 50 percent of their officers and executive committee are female, and 36 percent of its board members are female - perhaps more diverse than some on the outside might have assumed.

Who were your favorite artists at the Grammys this year?

With love, Kara x