Seeing Red at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards

Talia Cutler ’27

Contributing Writer

Taylor Swift accepted her 13th Grammy on Feb. 4, slapping the music industry in the face and sealing the Grammys’ fate as another underwhelming pasquinade.

This was Swift’s fourth time winning Album of the Year. She won in 2010 for “Fearless,” in 2016 for “1989,” in 2020 for “Folklore” and now this year for “Midnights.” For comparison, only three Black women have ever been awarded Album of the Year since the category was first introduced to the Grammy Awards in 1959. In fact, the last Black woman to win Album of the Year was Lauryn Hill in 1999. Since then, Beyonce has been nominated four times for four different record-breaking albums. But whatever! By now, you’re probably saying “Hey! Taylor Swift has broken records and is a wonderful artist in her own right! She probably deserved every single award!” This, reader, is where I tell you that you’re not only wrong, but you have spinach in your teeth.

Every year that Taylor Swift has won AOTY, there has been another album much more deserving and culturally significant that should have won instead. Let’s dive in. In 2010, the year of feather hair extensions and diva culture, Beyonce released “I Am… Sasha Fierce.” The ‘split’ album was the first of its kind and featured tracks like “Single Ladies” and “Halo.” Yet, “Fearless” took home the Grammy. “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West was not even nominated, despite its Metascore of 94, indicating “universal acclaim.” Everyone knows “To Pimp A Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar should have won Album of The Year in 2016. The album was a lyrical masterpiece, addressing multiple hard-hitting issues in America and even becoming an anthem to the BLM movement. Nevertheless, “1989” won. I think you can begin to pick up on a trend here. Dua Lipa dominated the music scene at the height of the pandemic with “Future Nostalgia” but lost to Swift in 2020. There is an inherent issue with the Academy if commercially marketable music wins time and again over original, thoughtful and well-executed work. It sends a clear message: we do not actually care about the music.

I believe we are starting to see the general public turn against Taylor Swift’s gargantuan brand, and personally, I am not upset about it. I could go into more detail about Swift’s character, like her threatening legal action against a 21-year-old college student for tracking her private jet and exposing her massive carbon footprint (the flight information is public data). Or, you could consider her embarrassing conduct at the Grammys, like unprofessionally announcing an upcoming album onstage or dragging losing nominees up with her. But hey, she has cats and drinks wine, so she’s just like us, I promise!

Taylor Swift is a walking Midas — anything she touches becomes an instant commercial success. Thus, the more she is promoted, the better it is financially for everyone involved. However, should this be the standard in the music industry? At what point is craft sacrificed to general appeal and consumption? Can you really have both?

The Grammys happily report that they are nominating more and more artists of color, yet the “Big Four” categories (Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year) remain remarkably Caucasian when it comes time for the winner to be announced. Taylor Swift represents this glaringly obvious disparity to a fantastic degree. She churns out album after album of admittedly good but stagnant music and reaps award after award, and anyone who criticizes her is obviously doing so because she’s a marginalized rich white woman. No other reason!

I understand if the reader decides to completely disregard this opinion out of definitely normal and not-at-all-obsessive loyalty to a billionaire. After all, Swift’s lyricism does make an honest appeal to teenage relatability (“I pictured you with other girls, in love/I threw up on the street”). However, as much as you pledge your allegiance to T-Swizzle, the 66th Annual Grammy Awards indisputably left a lot of questions open as to how the music industry will move forward with an understanding that recognition is incredibly conditional to the artist, rather than the work. But oh, woe is us! How will people ever decide what music to like if there isn’t a giant corporation telling them?

You May Also Like

+ There are no comments

Add yours