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OP-ED: The futility of the Grammys

Every year I watch the Grammy Awards, and every year, I manage to be disappointed. At least I’m not on my own: Grammy’s viewership has steadily been on decline since 2018, with this year having a whopping 19.9 million viewers. Sadly, I was one of them.

Award shows may not be my cup of tea anymore, but the Grammys has always been on the bottom of my list of must-watch award shows. I would rather watch a host-less Oscars (and soon will) than watch the Grammys.

Despite my negative attitude, I was pleasantly surprised on Feb. 10. So many women were nominated and received awards this year: H.E.R, Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, Kacey Musgraves – the list goes on, as it should! Women took home many of the most distinguished awards, like Cardi B with Best Rap Album or Musgraves with Album of the Year. They also stole the show with some incredible performances: H.E.R’s silky rendition of “Hard Place” is still on my mind, and Cardi B’s performance of her latest single, “Money,” was incredibly well done. Diana Ross’s appearance was a reminder of how much we don’t deserve her talent and grace, but we receive it anyway (for which I am grateful).

Alicia Keys was an excellent host. Her humility, kindness and natural sense of humor made the Grammys enjoyable, especially when she talked about losing Record of the Year to John Mayer, with Mayer breaking the award in half to share. It was an honest moment that spoke to how much artists support each other and recognize the hard work everyone does to produce good music.

And yet, despite all these positives (which were negatives when I complained about the sexism of last year’s show), I was still unsettled. Jennifer Lopez, a Puerto Rican woman, was the main performer for a Motown dedication (Motown, a music recording company created by black people and black artists). Drake was giving an impassioned speech about the real purpose of artistry being dedication to fans, only to be cut off for commercial. Mac Miller’s family was brought out to the Grammys, and he didn’t win a single award. And, as much as I love Kacey Musgraves, it hurt to see Janelle Monae lose Album of the Year for a project she dedicated to all marginalized voices in the world.

But so it goes. The Grammys took one major step forward and a few steps back. Such is the case with all awards shows, and yet they always leave me wondering. What is the point of them? How much validation do artists need, as long as people are still doing whatever they can to see their shows? As J Cole said in a brilliant tweet post-Grammy Awards, “no award show could ever get it all the way right.” I hope one day award shows like this will be unnecessary, as artists realize that all the validation comes from the sold out shows, and not a heavy piece of gold that is apparently really easy to break.

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