The ups and downs of the 2019 Grammy Awards

The 61st Grammy Awards was full of controversy and firsts

By on February 19, 2019

The big night celebrating professional music, known as the Recording Academy Grammy Awards, happened on Feb. 10 and caused an uproar of controversy regarding nominees and a lack of popular performers.

Amongst the controversy, the 61st Grammy Awards was a turning point when it came down to women being recognized for their work within the music industry.

Alicia Keys hosted this year’s Grammy Awards and was the first female host since Queen Latifah in 2005. While hosting, Keys showed off her own musical talents and featured in different songs throughout the ceremony. Keys also made it her mission to emphasize the theme of the Grammys, which was to come together and share the love of music.

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Last year’s Grammy Awards brought about its own type of controversy with the winners of each category. With only 11 out of the 84 winners at that year’s Grammy Awards being women, the Academy received a lot of criticism through people the hashtag #GrammySoMale.

The outgoing Recording Academy president and CEO, Neil Portnow, escalated the issue and said that women need to “step up” if they want to be recognized and represented more at the awards ceremony.

This year, however, that changed with the ceremony was hosted by a female artist and women winning categories such as “Best Rap Album,” “Best New Artist” and “Album of the Year.”

Dua Lipa, the winner of “Best New Artist,” referenced the whole discussion about how there was a lack of women winners at the last Grammy Awards. She said, “I guess we’ve really stepped up.”

Women continued to dominate the ceremony when Keys invited music prodigies Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and Jada Pinkett Smith to stage. She then asked the former first lady, Michelle Obama, to come up as well. While on stage, each woman gave a short monologue about how music has impacted them. Gaga, for example, said some if her lines were cut from her latest film, “A Star is Born.”

“They said I was weird,” Gaga said. “That my look, my choices, my sound, that it wouldn’t work. But music told me not to listen to them.”

Even with the breakthrough of women gaining more recognition at the Grammy Awards, hip-hop artists continue to have complicated relationships with the Recording Academy. Both Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar had the most nominations (eight and seven). However, they did not win in major categories.

Lamar went home with some trophies that were rap-specific, but Jay-Z did not win anything at this year’s Grammy Awards. He then expressed his upset with the Academy in his LP with Beyoncé, “Everything is Love,” by saying, “Tell the Grammy’s fuck that 0 for 8 shit.”

Both Jay-Z and Lamar actually did not attend the Grammy Awards, along with many other big names in the industry including Childish Gambino, Ed Sheeran, Rihanna and Kanye West. Even Ariana Grande did not come after a dispute with the producers about not allowing her to sing her hit, “7 Rings.”

The producers did agree to let Grande perform “7 Rings” as a part of a medley of some of her other songs. But Grande got upset after the producer of the Grammy Awards, Ken Ehrlich, said in an interview that he did not believe Grande could put a performance together in such a short amount of time.

“I’ve kept my mouth shut but now you’re lying about me,” Grande said on Twitter. “I can pull together a performance over night and you know that, Ken. It was when my creativity and self expression was stifled by you that I decided not to attend. I hope the show is exactly what you want it to be and more.”

Despite the fact that some big-name artists did not attend this awards ceremony, the event continued and gave tribute veteran musicians.

Dolly Parton alongside Maren Morris, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and other artists paid tribute to her musical achievements and charity work as the MusiCares Person of the Year.

Another notable tribute performance from the Grammy Awards was recognizing the music recording company, Motown. Lopez was the leader of this tribute and performed alongside Smokey Robinson, singing classic rhythm and blues songs including “My Girl,” “Please Mr. Postman” and “Do You Love Me.”

However, one tribute caused a lot of uproar when Mac Miller artist did not win “Best Rap Album.” Miller’s album, “Swimming,” was nominated and Miller was added to the memoriam section of the Grammy Awards ceremony. The Academy invited Miller’s parents to attend the awards ceremony to be there to watch his memoriam. However, when Cardi B won the “Best Rap Album” award, viewers, including Grande, were upset.

Grande went to Twitter and said “trash” when Miller did not win. After tweeting about Miller not winning, she clarified that she was not mad at Cardi B, but was mad at the Academy for inviting Miller’s parents to watch him not even win the Award. The rest of her tweets discussing this were deleted.

After winning, Cardi B went to Instagram to thank many people for her award, including Miller.

“I read an article that Mac Miller’s family said that if he don’t win, they want me to win so I’m sharing this Grammy with you mother fucker,” Cardi B said in an Instagram video. “Rest in peace.”

However, one of the most memorable moments of the night was when Childish Gambino won “Record of the Year” for his hit “This is America.” While this is a huge moment for the artist on its own, his win marked the first time a hip-hop song won this award.

Gambino was not at the Grammy Awards, so producer Ludwig Göransson dedicated the award to Gambino and also mentioned the featured artists in the song including Slim Jxmmi, Young Thug, 21 Savage and BlocBoy JB.

“It calls out injustice, celebrates life and unites us all at the same time,” Göransson said.

Gambino’s “This is America” also allowed Gambino to be the first hip-hop artist to win “Song of the Year.”

With this iconic win and many others, the 2019 Grammy Awards was full of surprises, but also snubs due to the many controversies that arose.

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