Award Shows: 2018 Grammy Awards – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I had time to write a prediction piece for seven categories and I got it right for six of them. It doesn’t mean that the outcome sits well with me. Less than 24 hours have passed and I am now ready to dissect the 60th Grammy Awards. Here is my take on this year’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.


THE GOOD

Kendrick Lamar swept the rap field and he almost didn’t. In the four categories where he contended in, he was up against veteran Jay-Z. Even when Kendrick Lamar won during the pre-televised ceremony, I was imagining they could not pass up the opportunity to reward Jay-Z on live TV in Best Rap Sung Performance. After all, in this category, he is nominated for “Family Feud”, a single on which Beyonce is featured on. And the better entry won. This also serves as Rihanna’s revenge for being completely snubbed in 2017 despite six nominations, stellar commercial results and overwhelming acclaim.

Despite not showing up, Ed Sheeran won both his nominations in pop. I had my doubts. He was the only one in the Best Pop Solo Performance category to not be in attendance. The narrative wasn’t sexy enough to select him as the winner and for the award to be broadcasted. But the envelope was opened and his name was read. Even though the entire world is in agreement that he didn’t put up the best album of 2017, it was clear that an injustice was committed when his presence was nowhere to be found in the general field. This is the closest retribution he can get.

“Despacito (Remix)” lost all its categories and proves the Grammy Awards are not always about commercial success. Fine! The Recording Academy has more issues to be apologetic for (e.g. only one woman in Album of the Year and it happens to be her only nomination, rap and hip-hop’s record in the general field, etc.). But, in their defense, Portugal. the Man and Bruno Mars managed to take down a giant I knew would be hard to take down. Don’t get me wrong. “Despacito (Remix)” wasn’t garbage. It just wasn’t Grammy-worthy.


THE BAD

Alessia Cara wins Best New Artist and is now in the same league as Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Sam Smith and Chance the Rapper. If you thought you were hallucinating, you aren’t and you read that correctly! Am I the only one that sees her in the same league as Meghan Trainor and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? If you put some perspective and remember that those two were also recipients of this prestigious honor, maybe it makes sense for Alessia to prevail. I predicted this to happen. But in my heart that I was right to ignore, I thought Khalid, even SZA, would make more sense.

Maybe even The Weeknd didn’t expect to be victorious in Best Urban Contemporary Album. I guess my disappointment had more to do with my expectations as opposed to my regard for the album’s quality. I bet I’m not the only one who thought Childish Gambino, SZA and Khalid would have a better shot at notching a win than The Weeknd. Even today, based on the process, it makes sense that The Weeknd can beat an album nominated for Album of the Year. But logic should tell you this is strange (unless it is better at being “urban contemporary” but not superior in being just an “album”)

Am I the only one who thinks that even if Chris Stapleton just farts, he’d win a Grammy? Let me begin by saying, I immensely enjoyed his sophomore album From a Room: Volume 1. I’m no country expert. But if I could vote, I would cast one in its direction for Best Country Album. But for him to sweep and win both Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song, and leave Sam Hunt and Miranda Lambert trophy-less for the night, just didn’t sit right. Even Taylor Swift winning for writing “Better Man” might be a better choice to “Broken Halos”.


THE UGLY

Lorde not being acknowledged throughout the entire show still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. After receiving only one nomination across all 80 categories, my hopes were not up.  But considering her album easily beats 99% of the nominees this year, it just sucks. There’s no way I can turn back the hands of time. But I can continue to rant and blab about the injustice that Lorde should have never been put through.

I knew Kendrick Lamar was going to lose but I still hoped I was wrong. I’m sure you can all relate to the feeling of not being able to delineate between expectation and hope. It’s not a line I can easily identify and anything outside of it just stings. In the general field, there were two opportunities to reward him. While I love Bruno Mars, both times, his submission was inferior. I get “That’s What I Like” beating “Humble”. But it was “24K Magic” the latter went up against. There was no competition. And maybe I’ll be wrong. In my view, DAMN is one for the books and 24K Magic will not be celebrated and remembered years down the line.

I won’t deny the bias against hip-hop and rap exists in the Recording Academy but I will never attribute Jay-Z’s loss to it. Even the nominations it garnered, it didn’t deserve. And it’s to blame for Kendrick Lamar’s performance in the general field. Here is an album and two songs being fielded by the Blue Ribbon Committee that will split votes with Kendrick. Maybe Bruno Mars didn’t deserve all the love. But neither did Jay-Z.

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