(i tried to make the header look like a golden plaque? idk don’t judge)
I’m not a music journalist, so I can’t give you all the deep tea on the Grammys, or what each award stands for. I actually didn’t watch the awards show because I don’t have a TV and honestly I can find the performances later. Isn’t that what’s most important?
Rolling Stone released an article, “Grammys 2017: Who Will Win, Who Should Win” by writer Keith Harris, that’s really helpful in understanding the individual nuances of each category.
There are essentially only a few categories that anyone is/should be interested in. “Album of the Year,” “Song of the Year,” “Record of the Year,” and “Best New Artist.” There are other ones: “Best Solo Performance,” “Best Pop Vocal Album,” and on and on until the only person left standing is CeeLo Green because apparently he’s a robot now.
The way Rolling Stone broke it down for the first three categories is this. “Album of the Year” relates most to album sales. “Song” is about the written-ness, and “Record” relates more to performance and singing. In each of these, it was a toss-up between Beyoncé and Adele for Lemonade and 25, respectively.
Adele ended up sweeping all three, with Beyonce winning “Best Urban Contemporary Album” (before the cameras were rolling, apparently they hand out a bunch of awards because the Grammys are long enough as it is).
If we’re going by the Rolling Stone outline, then it makes sense that 25 won Best Album. It sold 3.38 million in the first week of its release; 17.4 million copies in 2015; 20 million copies sold total. That’s, like, historic. So Album of the Year; that makes sense.
And if “Song” relates more to the written, then Adele wins that too. She writes all her own stuff (probably with some help) but whatever. She wrote “Hello.” Yes, done.
But “Record of the Year” should’ve at least gone to Beyoncé. I think that’s what’s so hard about Adele and Beyoncé. I LOVE BOTH OF THEM. Not even out of some deluded idea of “fairness” because—let’s face it—these awards basically mean nothing monetarily to these two queens. They’ll still be fucking incredible, no matter what some group of voters decides (there’s an allegory in there somewhere).
And this is the part that confuses me—does the voter group take into account public perception? Because of the two, 25 and Lemonade, the latter was more—in my small, tiny, chic opinion—the more influential. It brought police brutality into the national dialogue when Beyoncé wore a Blank Panthers-inspired outfit to the Super Bowl; when she released “Formation,” the music video of which invoked Hurricane Katrina, black womanness, police brutality, and Black Lives Matter. She did that.
It seems like that should be accounted for: the amount that Beyonce contributed to, affected and influenced our country’s dialogue about race. Lemonade was powerful in its own right—as a visual album and experience, and the songs that touched on the intersection between Blackness and Womanness—but it also impacted 2016 in a major way. A way that seems not to be recognized by the Grammy voters.
Adele, in her acceptance speech, said that Beyonce should’ve won “Album of the Year,” which maybe is true and is a nice sentiment, but kind of bullshit. I LOVE ADELE, so this is not shade, but there’s underlying condescension in the notion of “You should really won this (but I won this) but you should’ve!” I don’t think, honestly, Adele meant it that way, but actions speak louder than words.
Justin Bieber, Drake and Kanye West made the action to skip the Grammys, despite being nominated in several categories, because they felt the award show did not accurately recognize the contributions and accomplishments of black artists. According to TMZ, they thought it was kind of irrelevant. And after watching Adele sweep every category against Beyonce, I have to agree.
We’re in a tough place because it’s two QUEENS against each other, but Lemonade was iconic in 2016. Not just because it was good, but because it was important. And as heart-rending and evocative and emotional and lovely as 25 was, it wasn’t important and necessary in the same way that Lemonade was. There was pain in the voice of Adele, and in the eyes of Beyonce, when Adele dedicated her award to Beyonce. Because at the end of the day, they—and all artists—recognize the value and depth of each other’s art. Now if that could just be accurately represented, that would be killer.
I just need to reiterate that I love Adele, and writing this has physically hurt me, but I have to honor my truth.
ALSO CONGRATS TO CHANCE THE RAPPER FOR “BEST NEW ARTIST” YOU COMPLETELY DESERVE IT!