By: Patricia Kusumaningtyas |
The biggest night in music just happened last Sunday, February 10th, at its regular home at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. After a few controversies, including artists pulling out of performances and a back-and-forth between Ariana Grande and Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich, this year’s Grammys is a solid step forward compared to last year’s, both in the awards they presented and the performances they held.
This year’s Grammys saw 31 women winning awards—a great improvement compared to last year, and a great rebound from last year’s male-dominated Grammys, in which its president responded that “women need to step up.” Kacey Musgraves, who was one of our 2018 favorites, won Album of the Year and swept the country music categories for her critically-acclaimed Golden Hour. One of our other favorites, Childish Gambino, swept the rest of the major categories—Record of the Year and Song of the Year—with his socially-conscious rap anthem “This is America.” After a chart-dominating year, Dua Lipa deservingly won the last general category of Best New Artist.
We also see a surge of women musicians sweeping other categories, as well. Ariana Grande, despite her absence from the ceremony, won her first ever Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album with Sweetener. Lady Gaga swept both the solo vocal performance category and the duo vocal performance category thanks to her work in her most recent solo album, Joanne, and her brief stint in the film industry, producing “Shallow,” a duet with Bradley Cooper for the Oscar-nominated film A Star is Born.
We also see women dominating the more-specific genre categories. R&B singer-songwriter H.E.R.’s self-titled album dominated the R&B category together with British crooner Ella Mai for “Boo’d Up” and R&B’s strongest power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z for their love letter album Everything is Love. Cardi B’s freshman LP Invasion of Privacy scored a talked-about win for Best Rap Album, beating critical favorites Mac Miller—for his last album Swimming—and Travis Scott—for his youthly, anthemic ASTROWORLD. St. Vincent scored a surprise win for Best Rock Song with “MASSEDUCTION,” toppling fan favorites Twenty One Pilots’ “Jumpsuit” and Greta van Fleet’s “Black Smoke Rising.”
The ceremony also presented us with interesting performances. As usual, the Grammys try to eliminate the distinction between genres by pairing up performers of different backgrounds. The most jarring of all of this is the collaboration between rap favorite Post Malone and funk rock pioneers Red Hot Chili Peppers, performing “Stay,” “Rockstar,” and “Dark Necessities.” Another performance where this idea works perfectly is nested in a performance that captures this year’s feminist spirit, pairing up alt-garde auteur St. Vincent and pop-banger singer Dua Lipa, performing “MASSEDUCTION” and “One Kiss.” Lady Gaga also performed a genre-bending performance, adapting the slow ballad “Shallow” into a full-blown glam rock song. We also see that the Grammys are opening up towards musical acts from the East, with BTS gaining their first nomination and gaining the title as the first K-pop act to present at the Grammys. Michelle Obama also presented an award in a surprise appearance.
What does this mean for music’s biggest night in the future? With the overwhelming amount of no-shows, we can see that the Grammys are losing a little bit of their cultural importance this year, but with the women awardees and the (actually) fun ceremony, it’s not wrong to expect a little more from them next year.