For long periods of time, the Grammys have been seen as the stuck-up, white washed and conservative music awards. Though winning a Grammy grants a higher prestige in the music industry, many of the contemporary music genres felt that the Grammy committees were out of touch with the actual consumers and trends within their own industry. Many believed that there wasn’t an equal representation of urban demographics, even as genres like hip-hop became the largest commercial brand of music. With demographics ever changing and consumer trends further evolving, are the Grammys starting to “loosen” up a bit in attempts to appeal to more diverse audiences? We now see a hip-hop act like LL Cool J allowed to host and more urban artists performing in primetime TV slots. Just last night we saw Frank Ocean, Miguel, Wiz Khalifa and Rihanna take the stage. There is also a rise in performances that cross genres and fan bases alike. Justin Timberlake [pop] performed and brought out Jay-Z [hip-hop]. Maroon 5 [pop/rock] performed with Alicia Keys [R&B], and in a tribute to Bob Marley, a diverse collection of artists was used to make the performance huge.
With more of these cross genre collaborations we are seeing some non-conservative faces become nominated for categories that would have never been expected in the past. Do you think the Grammys would have allowed someone like Wiz Khalifa [a tattoo covered, weed smoking black guy] to be in the “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” about 20 years ago? There was some minor backlash just 10 years ago when 50 Cent didn’t win a Grammy when he had one of the larger impacts on the music industry in ages. Some said his “look” kept him from winning. At this time 50 Cent was seen as the guy in the wave cap, sideways hat and a bullet proof vest, and don’t forget that entourage of hoodlums either. There are still those that feel that the Grammys is still conservative and still plays it safe in many instances, however we don’t think it’s out of the question to believe that they have made some strides.
Many of us definitely see a change however, that doesn’t mean we don’t think they need some work in areas. For example, Drake won best Rap Album. Drake is a Jewish/African-American male who did some genre bending to really stick out in hip-hop; but his win was announced on Twitter while much Grammy coverage was focused on the Red Carpet. The same can be said for Miguel who won for “Best R&B Song”. For someone like Drake to take best album for a genre that is very commercial, yet not be televised seems to be a bit “conservative” still. For Miguel to be able to sing a song that many viewers won’t know he won a Grammy for is a bit weird too. But hey, we can’t have it all. But with more diverse faces in everything now from TV/Film, to music, to politics it’s only natural that we start to see things like the look of the Grammys change moving forward. In the last 20-30 years things have changed a bit, what do you think we see at the Grammys in 20-30 years from now? New genres? More global influences?
Take a look at the performances below and think back to when you were younger and ask yourself if the Grammys was this diverse in music, people and more. What do you think is next to change for the Grammys. Leave it in our comments section.
Bob Marley Tribute
Justin Timberlake & Jay-Z
Miguel & Wiz Khalifa
Maroon 5 & Alicia Keys
For more performances from the 55th Grammys, go here.