Recently, Kanye West
, and Justin Bieber
have announced that they are not going to be attending this year's Grammys. Frank Ocean
didn't even submit his album for consideration. This is pretty important, because they are not just punk acts who are doing this as a stab at the establishment. These are people that have won Grammys before. These guys are the establishment. Drake, Bieber, and West have all been nominated this year. And by them not even bothering to show up, it's a pretty big clue as to the Grammys' place in our society.
These were the people who were at the top of the streaming charts last year, and with streaming being the preferred way that we listen to music, them saying they're not going to participate in "music's biggest night" is a huge deal. How can it truly be music's biggest night if the biggest names in music are finding problems with it?
It makes sense that they're finding problems with it, because while they do have multiple categories to represent dozens of different types of music, and generally their nominations and picks make sense, their core Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year usually don't. Consider last year's Grammys. For some reason, Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk swept" the floor for Record of the year.
Here's who he was up against.
's "Really Love," a smooth and silky song which was critically hailed when it was dropped, and many major media outlets
were buzzing about it as a welcome return for D'Angelo.
's "Thinking Out Loud," A.K.A. one of the most streamed songs from the most streamed artist of 2015
's "Blank Space," a critical and commercial hit from a newly confident Swift.
's "Can't Feel My Face," or, the absolute banger that ruled the summer of 2015, and showed the commercial peak of The Weeknd's appealingly atmospheric, dark, and sexy sound.
And then Uptown Funk...
I can understand picking Ed Sheeran for Song of the Year. He was actually the most popular artist of 2015, and that song showed why. Forgetting the other songs on the list though, the other one nominated was Kendrick Lamar's "Alright." Ever since the release of To Pimp of Butterfly,
this was the song that was played political protests, parades, and any celebration of black life. And with Black Lives Matter, and police brutality being a pressing issue that has become very visible because of social media, a pick for Sheeran over Kendrick Lamar is the choice between involved in society and continuing to bury your head in the sand. The choice of picking Swift's 1989
over Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly
for Album of the Year only proves this point even further.
This year we're seeing Adele going up against Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and Drake for Album of the Year. I'd be surprised if Adele doesn't win. Please pleasantly surprise me, Grammys.
From a number's perspective, the Grammys aren't doing so hot. According to Nielsen
, the 2016 Grammys showed the lowest viewership since 2009, where 24.9 million people were tuned into to watch Swift accept her award, and then bounced soon after. I expect that the only reason most of those viewers were watching Swift was because of West's stunts. During the 2015 Grammys and the next day after, he was the most talked about event on Twitter.
So although West might come off as a bit crazy and entitled when he says:
He does have a point.
Even more telling than the lack of people watching the Grammys is the lack of young
people watching it. According to those same Nielsen numbers, 7.7% of all 18-49 year old viewers in the U.S. watched the Grammys. And that statistic went up to 49. I imagine that if you go into only the ages 18-28, pretty much nobody was watching. We just all went on Twitter or Facebook the next day to see if West interrupted somebody on stage.
West is not showing up to this year's Grammys, though. Neither is Drake, the most streamed artist of last year. Neither is Ocean, who released one of the most - if not, the
most - anticipated albums of last year. And if the arguably biggest tastemakers of our time are not showing up to the Grammys because they feel like they don't represent them, then what do the Grammys actually represent?