The Grammys Are For White People
When I watched the 2014 Grammy broadcast, I cussed. A lot. And with each minute that passed in the over 3 1/2 hour show, it got worse. I woke up the next day with that same seething anger inhabiting every cell in my body. But now that I’ve had a few days to let my Grammy furor die down, I’ve gotten a little clarity on the proceedings.
The Grammys used to be my favorite award show. The performances were great. The best of the music industry, regardless of sales, were on hand and honored. And even though I didn’t care for everything, that never took away from the award’s prestige or importance. What took place that night helped to shape the direction of the music industry going forward, sending a clear message to the masses what was good and what wasn’t. But this year’s broadcast made it clear that the only “cool” black face is Pharrell’s.
This year, they didn’t even bother to air the Rap and R&B awards (would’ve been nice to see Lalah Hathaway do her thing live). The Academy has deemed those genres as important as Dance, Alternative, and Americana. And as a result, I’ve now reached a point where I believe that black people shouldn’t even watch the Grammys anymore. It pains me to say that, but the show has fallen in line with the “award my friends” crowd like the Golden Globes. The one show that used to be about awarding the best, no matter how big or small, has lost its soul.
I watched Sunday night and didn’t agree with any of the award winners (except when anyone beats Taylor Swift. That’s just the world trying to right itself). There was the whole Macklemore and Ryan Lewis thing, the Pharrell in silly 50 million gallon hats thing, and the Daft Punk can’t even break character long enough to thank people for winning Album of the Year thing. Each was more infuriating than the last. I felt like Esther Rolle from Good Times.
But nothing quite summed up the night more than Taylor Swift during the Imagine Dragons/Kendrick Lamar performance. Kendrick Lamar was spitting fire on stage and Imagine Dragons was a brilliant sound infusion. And there, in the front row, mere inches from Kendrick, was Taylor Swift and a friend, dancing HARD, full on white girl bounce and robotic arms in tow. And in that moment, you realize how many white kids around the country are listening to rap music, acting like they can identify with the lyrics, and trying to glean soul through music listening.
This is why the Grammys have me pissed to high heaven. This is why Macklemore and Ryan Lewis shut out Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Jay-Z in the rap categories. This is why Daft Punk can win both Record and Album of the year. This right here. Two skinny white girls in pretty dresses trying to emulate black culture and looking foolish while doing it. But she can do that because she is Taylor Swift.
This is why people like Lorde are deemed “game changers.” This is how Rihanna wins best Urban Contemporary Album over Tamar Braxton and Fantasia. This is how Alicia Keys beats out John Legend for Best R&B Album. This is why Miley Cyrus is still not only selling records, but topping the charts.
This is what the music industry has become. It is completely tailored to this little girl and those around the country who want to be her. That is how Lorde beats Sara Bareilles, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and Justin Timberlake in Best Pop Solo PERFORMANCE. That is why Blurred Lines played so much last year that my ears were damn near bleeding, and Robin Thicke was hailed as a musical genius. That is why Daft Punk can get on stage in robotic headgear and push buttons as a performance. THIS. GIRL. RIGHT. HERE.
I say it again.
Yes, damn you music industry. Damn you.
See the full list of winners here.
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