Grammys ceremony disappoints despite slight improvements

Courtesy of CBS

Courtesy of CBS

The 61st Grammy Awards too often fell into repetitiveness while attempting to remedy past criticisms like lack of diversity.

The famous, or infamous, award show has been picked apart by musicians and fans alike. Last year's male-dominated winner's circle and lack of diversity challenged what the modern music landscape looks like.

Prior years’ shows became more unique for their “snubs” than actual awards, like the fuss with Beck's win over Beyoncé for album of the year in 2015. A lasting criticism of the show has also been over its hyped-up yet boring presentation. This year's 210-minute run remedied some complaints and ruined other hopeful expectations.

The night was big for women in music. Last year, Neil Portnow, the president of the Recording Academy — which chooses the winners — brazenly addressed female artists when asked why the awards disproportionately award male artists, saying that they needed to “step up.”

A year after the controversies of his statement, the 61st Grammys seemed to have equipped not just a more thorough public relations supervisor, but also more attentive voters for this year's winners, with many female artists highlighted.

Dua Lipa poked fun at Portnow in her acceptance speech for best new artist. “I guess this year we really stepped up,” gleamed the British artist while she took home her first award. She later won another one for best dance recording with Silk City for the track “Electricity.”

Country artist Kacey Musgraves took home the night's well-sought-after album of the year. Musgraves’ Golden Hour bridged the predictable pop elements that the Grammys often favor with a country twine and twist that the Recording Academy chose to highlight and crown.

Cardi B continued to write history as the first solo female winner of best rap album with her debut, Invasion of Privacy. Fellow rappers Drake and Childish Gambino took home awards for best rap song and best rap/sung performance, respectively.

The award show continued to honor women with an all-star tribute to Dolly Parton. The 47-time nominee and eight-time Grammy winner was praised with a 10-minute performance featuring fellow female artists including Musgraves, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Maren Morris and Little Big Town.

The absent Ariana Grande won best pop vocal album for her acclaimed album Sweetener. The pop star was predicted to perform at the show, but in a brief Twitter explanation, Grande said that the award show's producer, Ken Ehrlich, was stifling her creativity and she decided to not attend.

Nicki Minaj, a frequent collaborator of Grande, also came out to condemn the Grammys’ producer for bullying. Glimpses into the backstage treatment of female artists start to chisel away the female-friendly appearance this year's Grammys masqueraded as.

Aside from honoring some well-deserved female talent, the show also shone light and praise toward Gambino's critically acclaimed track, “This is America.” Winning record of the year, song of the year, and best rap/sung performance, the politically charged song received praise from fans who were relieved to see it honored as an important moment in music, as well as being supported by the awards.

The few steps the show took toward inclusivity and diversity were laced with performances that ranged from impressive and notable to unnecessary and out of place.

Janelle Monáe lost to Kacey Musgraves for album of the year, but that didn't stop her from delivering a groovy and much-needed performance of “Make Me Feel.”

Lady Gaga fell into the dramatics of her character, Ally, from the movie A Star is Born while performing “Shallow,” the movie’s hit song. Her commitment was honorable, yet the exaggerated pain and vocal straining broke any expectation of an original and exciting Gaga performance.

Most other performers played it safe; Camila Cabello resurrected her hit “Havana” once again, and Miley Cyrus and Shawn Mendes gave a clean and palatable duet.

But careful choices like these seemed to have gone awry with the decision to have Jennifer Lopez headline a Motown tribute. The creation of such an odd performance shows that the Grammys still has much room to grow.

The voters behind the golden awards, the Recording Academy, seemed to have taken note of necessary change, but between the lazy performances and messy relations with artists and the public, the Grammys still can't seem to warrant any real acclaim.

ArtsSven LarsenComment