Music’s Biggest Night is Shrinking Fast

by Zach Dowd

Looking back at the Grammy Awards last week, it’s difficult to find something that they really nailed. Everything from the boring predictability of the major category winners, to a constant hypocritical politicization of the event, no one other than Bruno Mars seems to be pleased with how the night played out.

The most consistent gripe about “music’s biggest night” is its irrelevance to young music fans. There is quite an obvious disconnect between demographics, generations, and what they respectively enjoy listening to. In an effort to please everyone, The Academy is pleasing far too few, judging by this year’s ratings being down a sizeable 24% from last year’s ceremony. Throughout the excessive three and a half hour runtime, you will almost certainly find yourself browsing your phone for something more interesting.

However, the night wasn’t a complete disappointment as there were multiple golden moments that reminded music fans everywhere why they listen in the first place. Most notably was a pair of Broadway singers in Patti LuPone and Ben Platt, singing “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and “Somewhere” respectively. Having the Grammys in New York this year certainly paid off for those two, who each had stellar performances. Kendrick Lamar opened the show with a sophisticated, politically relevant performance that could have done without the vague commentary by comedian Dave Chappelle. Later, Bruno Mars teamed up with hip-hop newcomer Cardi B for a retro powerhouse remix of “Finesse,” but if you didn’t make it that far, I don’t blame you.

Politics were as heavy-handed as I’ve ever seen at a Grammy Awards show. There was some positive light shed on Time’s Up via a white rose pinned to many of the artists’ chests, as well as a shaky, emotional performance of “Praying” by Kesha. Things took a turn when a prerecorded parody about President Trump came on, most notably featuring Hillary Clinton. It felt out of place and silly, which was, unfortunately, a recurring theme of the night. Album of the year nominee, Lorde, was denied a solo performance, but they still managed to squeeze in some cheesy megaphone yelling from Bono.

It’s becoming apparent that music does not have a biggest night or moment, as that term was also casually tossed onto Justin Timberlake’s halftime show earlier this week at the Superbowl. Something clearly needs to change next year if the Grammys are going to escape 2019 with some dignity. I’d say a good place to start could be more awards actually presented on live TV. It is an awards show after all.