This year’s Grammy Awards have been surrounded in controversy, most notably regarding several celebrities boycotting the ceremony. Frank Ocean has been particularly outspoken, releasing a statement via Tumblr this weekend calling out the Recording Academy for its “cultural bias” and dragging the awards’ producers for awarding the Best Album gong to Taylor Swift’s 1989 over Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly in 2013.
Despite the controversy, several of our favourite artists attended the ceremony but many of the award winners were easy to predict. Twenty One Pilots won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for Stressed Out with Justin Timberlake winning the Best Song Written for a Motion Picture award for annoyingly infectious CAN’T STOP THE FEELING.
Honouring some of last year’s most loved and lost artists, David Bowie won five posthumous awards for his album, Blackstar, having previously only won two awards in his lifetime, Meanwhile, George Michael received an emotional tribute of Fastlove from Adele on the Staples Center stage. However, it didn’t take long for the awards to make headlines yet again: although Beyoncé was nominated for a monumental nine awards, she only won two of them, for Best Music Video and Urban Contemporary Album.
The biggest upset seemed to be the Queen B’s Lemonade missing out on Album of the Year to Adele’s 25, which even the pop stalwart made explicit reference to in her acceptance speech, stating she could not “possibly accept [the] award… the artist of my life is Beyoncé”. She referred to Lemonade as “monumental… so well thought out… so beautiful and soul-baring.” After the speech, Adele broke her gramophone gong in half a là Mean Girls in order to share the award with her idol. Even backstage she was still reeling from winning the award, exclaiming “I thought it was her year. What the fuck does she have to do to win Album of the Year?”.
What some will regard as a snub only further highlights many artist’s issue with the awards: the misrepresentation of black artists in favour of ‘conservative’ white artists.
Nevertheless, while Beyoncé may have missed out, other artists prevailed. Her sister Solange, having released her phenomenal album A Seat at the Table last year, won Best R&B Performance for Cranes in the Sky, with Drake winning the Best Rap Song and Rap/Sung Performance awards for Hotline Bling. However, it was Chance the Rapper who was the other whirlwind success of the evening alongside Adele. The young rapper from Chicago racked up three wins throughout the evening, with his mixtape Coloring Book becoming the first streaming-only album to ever receive a nomination, let alone a win. He also won the award for Best Rap Performance for No Problem with Lil Wayne and 2Chainz, as well as winning the first televised award of the evening, Best New Artist. Not half bad for an unsigned artist, really.
Despite questions regarding its bias and relevancy, the Grammys proved yet again that they can dominate the headlines throughout awards season. However, it might not necessarily be for all the right reasons.
Words by Kirstie Sutherland