A Grammys recap
Ryan Israel | Monday, March 15, 2021
The 63rd annual Grammy Awards took place Sunday night, and if you weren’t paying attention — or just don’t care — it was easy to miss them. In a strange year for music devoid of any blockbuster moments, the Grammys didn’t have much draw. On top of that, the award show, like many other award shows, has been maligned in recent years for its lack of diversity and shadowy voting practices.
Every year there’s a similar story. This year, the dominant pre-Grammys storyline was The Weeknd’s lack of nominations. The superstar’s latest album “After Hours” and its ubiquitous hits “Blinding Lights” and “Save Your Tears” were snubbed by the Recording Academy, leading fans — and The Weeknd himself — to call for boycotts. There will most likely be a post-Grammys storyline calling for similar boycotts due to any number of outcomes.
Still, the Grammys, along with all those other award shows, is an exciting event, an opportunity to tune in to the spectacle. Even if we don’t agree with the winners, or even the nominees, we love when someone tries to tell us one thing is better than another. Music is subjective; the Grammys say it’s objective. I’ll react either way.
Best Contemporary Christian Music Album — “Jesus Is King” by Kanye West
I’m just going to link back to my November 2019 review of the album. I won’t say anything more, nothing about Kanye literally putting a Grammy in the toilet last year. I won’t.
Best Rap Song — “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion (feat. Beyonce)
This song was phenomenal on its own, just like Megan Thee Stallion was phenomenal at the Grammys on her own. But then Beyonce joined, and both “Savage” and Megan Thee Stallion’s acceptance speech got better.
Best Rap Album — “King’s Disease” by NAS
The nominees for best rap album are what aging rap fans would call “real rap music,” so it shouldn’t come as a total surprise that the award went to the most veteran artist nominated. But still, in terms of both buzz and quality, Nas’ “King’s Disease” pales in comparison to Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist’s “Alfredo” or even Jay Electronica’s “A Written Testimony.” Once again, the Grammy voters seem painfully out of touch.
Best Alternative Music Album — “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” by Fiona Apple
There was so much consensus that Fiona Apple’s “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” was a phenomenal album that it seemed for a second like the Grammys might go against the grain just for the sake of doing the wrong thing. Thankfully, they gave her the award, but notably, Apple skipped out on the Grammys this year, not because of the issues she has with the award show, but because she does not want to be on national television.
Best Rock Album — “The New Abnormal” by The Strokes
Are The Strokes washed up? The Grammys says no. Scene says maybe yes. At least the new wave — Fontaines D.C., Michael Kiwanuka — got some recognition.
Best Pop Vocal Album — “Future Nostalgia” by Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa proved that you can become the world’s biggest pop star even in the middle of a pandemic and still look good doing it.
Best New Artist — Megan Thee Stallion
Hot girl summer turned into hot girl fall, winter, spring and, eventually, hot girl quarantine. Through it all, Megan Thee Stallion has undoubtedly been “thee” best new artist. Yes, Elton John may need to hit someone, but if anyone’s going to top Phoebe, it’s Meg.
Album of the Year — “folklore” by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s “folklore” really was the album of the year, even if it wasn’t the loudest or the flashiest or the most popular.
Tragically, Scene’s album of the year, “Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers, was not nominated.
Record of the Year — “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish
Just when it seemed like Megan Thee Stallion and Beyonce were going to take the 2021 Grammys, the voters turned to 2020’s champion Billie Eilish and decided to give her the award for what is, really, a mediocre Billie Eilish song. She has better ones — lots of them!
The Grammys put Eilish in the brutal position of having to accept an award she knew she should not have won. Eilish handled it as best she could, gushing over Megan Thee Stallion and keeping her speech short, but the Grammys really said, right at the last minute, “We’re going to give you something to be upset about.”
Best Performance at the Grammys — Dua Lipa
This award, given out by me, was truly a competitive one. The conditions were great for no one, but everyone made the most of the situation — even Haim, who had to perform in the middle of the “Hunger Games” cornucopia. Still, the crown goes to pop star Dua Lipa, who brought da wardrobe, da choreography and DaBaby to her eye-catching performance. Notable runners-up include Harry Styles, who did a thing with his boa, his tattoos and his smile and Lil Baby, who brought his protest song “The Bigger Picture” to life.