The Grammys have always come under fire for their lack of diversity in its winners and nominees. Now that a new voting system has been implemented, and next year’s nominees announced, are we seeing results?
Grammy nominees have always been decided by voting members, and these members are industry professionals who fit a certain criteria. Since online voting replaced postal voting in 2017, this allowed many members who were on the road, and unable to receive a postal ballot, to have their say. This paid off big time, as the major categories are more diverse than we’ve ever seen them.
Unsurprisingly, Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber’s ‘Despacito’ is nominated for both Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year. However, what is surprising is that it’s the first Spanish song to ever be nominated in these categories. Sure, there are the Latin Grammys that exist to cover the wide array of Latin music out there, but this year we’ve seen an explosion of foreign genres crossing over into mainstream music.
Just look at South Korean boy band BTS, who released their EP Love Yourself: Her earlier this year. It became the highest charting Asian release ever in the United States. They also won Top Social Artist at the Billboard Music Awards this year, which previously, had gone to Justin Bieber for six years running. K-pop is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and award shows should be reflecting this diversity.
The most nominations for the 2018 Grammys went to Jay-Z (8), Kendrick Lamar (7), Bruno Mars (6), SZA, Khalid and Childish Gambino – all of whom are people of colour. Taylor Swift, Adele and Ed Sheeran generally clean up at the Grammys, and while they all make good music, it’s just so nice to see something different. Swift and Sheeran walk away with only two nominations each (probably because Swift’s newly-released Reputation falls outside of the eligibility period), and Sheeran is refreshingly the only male in the Best Pop Solo Performance category.
For the first time in Grammy history, there are no white males in the Album of the Year category, this year’s consisting of four men of colour plus Lorde. Also, every lead Record of the Year nominee is a person of colour, the only exception being Justin Bieber as a feature on ‘Despacito’.
I will admit that there’s a disappointing lack of female artists in the more prominent categories. However, Kesha and Lady Gaga, both members of the LGBT community, snapped up two nominations each. Alessia Cara also managed to grab an impressive four nominations, including two for ‘1-800-273-8255’, a song that doubles as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Despite this, the system still isn’t perfect. It’s no secret that people of colour and even women are often snubbed at the Grammys and other big award shows. It’s not for lack of nominees, either.
“A black woman hasn’t won [Album of the Year] since 1999 (Lauryn Hill), despite the existence of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Solange, and a host of other black women who have released great albums. Even SZA, whose album Ctrl was my favorite in 2017, didn’t get an Album of the Year nomination, so there’s still a ways to go.” – Micah Singleton
This is a step in the right direction, for sure, but like everything else, there’s still a long way to go. While “The Academy is probably tired of the backlash” isn’t the best way to go about adding more diversity to your ranks, we’ll take this as a step forward – for now.
Who do you think is going to take home a Grammy in January? Let us know below!