Despite seemingly never caring if the right nominees go home with trophies, the Grammys care deeply about winning their own race to the bottom of the awards show barrel. What started off as a promising week with the announcement that K-pop superstars BTS would present an award ended with Ariana Grande clapping back at Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich for â€ślyingâ€ť about her reasons for not performing at Sundayâ€™s show. Ehrlich alleged that Grande â€śfelt it was too late for her to pull something together,â€ť thoughVarietypreviously reported that producers wouldnâ€™t let her perform her new single, â€ś7 Ringsâ€ťdespite it being the No. 1 song in the country for the past two weeks.
So now the biggest pop star in the world wonâ€™t be performingorattendingMusicâ€™s Biggest Night, and if we are to believe Grande, the Grammys only have themselves to blame for her absence. The Grande spat followed a report from theNew York Timesthat Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino all declined to perform at this yearâ€™s ceremony as well. All three rappers are nominated for several of the eveningâ€™s biggest awards, though itâ€™s unclear whether theyâ€™ll even attend the show. Even Grammy darling Taylor Swift, whose Reputationis only nominated for best pop vocal album, likely will miss the ceremony because sheâ€™s in London filmingCats, the perfect icing on this big, dumb cake.
Drake, Lamar, and Gambinoâ€™s refusal to perform on Sunday is understandable given the Grammysâ€™ historically tumultuous relationship with hip-hop. Lamar has been snubbed for album of the year in 2018, 2016, and 2014 by Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, andDaft Punk, respectively (not to mention losing best rap album toMacklemorein 2014). Drake didnâ€™t even submit 2017â€™sMore Lifefor consideration. Last year, Jay-Z famously went 0-for-8, immortalizing his frustration in his and Beyoncâ€™s â€śApeshit.â€ť (Tell the Grammys fuck that 0-for-8 shit/ Have you ever seen the crowd goin apeshit?) Kanye West has won a staggering 21 Grammys, yet not a single one of them for album of the year.
Logic dictates that when you repeatedly shut out the most qualified artists in the biggest genre in the United States, eventually those artists will stop appearing on your show. Instead, Grammy viewers will be treated to a Post Malone/Red Hot Chili Peppers collaboration (during which Mountain Dew and Cheeto dust will ooze from your TV) and a Motown tribute from Jennifer Lopez, despite the fact that February is Black History Month, and despite the fact that genre pioneers Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Smokey Robinson are still very much alive.
Itâ€™s dumbfounding decisions like these that delegitimize the Grammysâ€™ apparent recent attempts at diversity.After last years testosterone-filled broadcast (and Recording Academy Chief Executive Niel Portnows asinine suggestion that women need to step up in order to win more awards), the Academy recruited 900 new voters, expanded its major categories from five nominees to eight, and created a task force to identify unconscious biases that may affect the Grammys voting process. Thatâ€™s all wonderful. The problem is,the Grammys are still making bad decisions. Itâ€™s great that the Academy nominated Cardi B, Janelle Mone, and Brandi Carlilewho is openly gayfor album of the year. But if Post Malone, a rap white guy who has publicly derided rap music as beneath him, wins the Grammysâ€™ highest honor (and donâ€™t think for a second that itâ€™s not possible), then itâ€™s all for nought.
Ironically, in their quest to preserve some fabled bastion of old, white credibility, the Grammys have alienated many of the artists who are redefining the future of popular music, critically and commercially. If the Grammys want to finally strike cultural relevance, they wonâ€™t do it just by forming committees and creating hashtags and occasionally hiring women of color to host the show. Theyâ€™ll do it by critically examining their biases against hip-hop (and music not made by white men in general) and putting a stop to such willfully thoughtless programming as having Lopez represent the entire Motown genre.Until then, the Grammys will be stuck in a nasty feedback loop in which they snub the industryâ€™s biggest artists, those artists then disavow the show, and all of Twitter sneers about how pitiful this show perennially is. Maybe Swift has the right idea; at this point,Catsseems more fun.