Most people involved in the music industry maintain the Grammy Awards, sold as “Music’s Biggest Night,” is woefully out of touch with reality. The 2018 Grammy Awards nominated both Cardi B and Lorde, but snubbed both by failing to allow either artist a solo performance. This malfunction highlights the Grammys’ preposterous misogynistic stance. According to the New York Times, which cited numbers from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, “Of the 899 people nominated over the last six Grammy Awards, only nine percent were women.”
And then there’s the Grammys’ lip service approach to hip-hop, the most significant genre of music at the present juncture. The genre receives beau coup nominations, but rarely wins. It’s sleight-of-hand trickery: everyone watches the hand holding the nominations, while the other hand stacks the winners’ deck. Two examples come immediately to mind: SZA’s Ctrl and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. Both SZA and Lamar should have won but didn’t, losing out to Alessia Cara and Bruno Mars, respectively. The latter two artists’ albums were good, but certainly not the best.
In other words, the Grammy Awards need to change. In the 2019 Grammy nominations, why not nominate deserving artists like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran? Swift’s “Ready for It?” and Sheeran’s “Perfect” warrant nominations. In addition, a whole cluster of hip-hop music demands presence. One prime example is Cardi B’s just-dropped Invasion of Privacy, along with a host of others.
And rock? The rock category gets absolutely no respect, with the winner usually appearing on the non-televised portion of the show, while the nominees fit neatly into the “safe and mainstream” category. For example, the Foo Fighters, who get nominated almost yearly, or Nothing More, a band that’s almost devoid of name recognition. Where are the supercharged in-your-face metal acts, like War Gods of the Deep, or Sinoptik, two bands that know how to put the pedal to the metal?
Moreover, what about taking into account lesser known artists? One of my favorites is Josh Pfeiffer. His “Brand New Shoes” has accumulated over 1.5 million views on YouTube, and he donated six months of proceeds to the Northern California Fire Victims. In other words, not only is he a superb singer-songwriter, but he has a generous heart.
“Brand New Shoes” rides a delicious, sensual pop rock melody, a contagious rhythm, and Pfeiffer’s tantalizingly rich baritone. The video, directed by Alejandro Guimoye, is cool and stylish, replete with misty, quixotic images creating emotional conviction and susceptibility. Without doubt, it’s worthy of a nomination for Best New Artist or Best Pop Solo Performance.
Better recognition and rewarding of women, hip-hop, hard rock, and popular lesser known artists would be giant step forward for the show professing it is “Music’s Biggest Night.” If the Grammy Awards refuse to evolve with the times, they might as well join the dinosaurs in extinction.