A look at the 2020 Grammy nominations

Contributed image

The 63rd Grammy Awards are not too far away, airing on Jan. 31, and nominations have just been released. As always, there are mixed reviews, some seeming fair and just while others read as blatant snubs.

Predictably, Justin Bieber is up in arms over his album Changes being categorized as Pop rather than his intended genre of R&B.

“I set out to make an R&B album. Changes was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album, which is very strange to me. I grew up admiring R&B music and wished to make a project that would embody that sound,” Bieber said in a statement on Instagram.

“For this not to be put into that category feels weird, considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style, all the way down to the hip-hop drums that were chosen, it is undeniably, unmistakably an R&B album!” Bieber added.

I can’t say I’ve listened to the entire album nor can I say I even know what qualifies as R&B anymore, but I can almost guarantee that Bieber’s album is not that. “Yummy” is a tried and true pop song. The same goes for “Come Around Me” and “Changes”. 

R&B is a broad categorization. Yes, the Grammys definitely could have designated Bieber’s Changes as R&B, but the fact is, it fits a lot better under Pop.

Grammy nominations are selected by experts of each genre. It’s quite possible the representatives for the R&B category simply did not agree with Bieber that this album is anything but a mix of pop and some miserable GarageBand loops. 

One of the few shining nominations amongst the list of names I’ve never heard of is that of solo artist Phoebe Bridgers, a member of supergroup boygenius,who is nominated for Best New Artist. 

Regardless of the fact that her first album was released almost four years ago, it’s encouraging to see some indie recognition alongside names such as Chika and Doja Cat. Bridgers is also nominated for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song for her album Kyoto.

To many fans’ dismay, The Weeknd received a grand total of zero votes for his album After Hours. The Weeknd was expected to be a lock for many of the categories he remains absent from and those within the industry are less than impressed.

“The Grammys remain corrupt,”  The Weeknd tweeted “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…” 

Fellow recording artist Drake was quick to jump to The Weeknd’s defense, stating that the Grammys are “like a relative you keep expecting to fix up but they just can’t change their ways.” 

Drake then elaborated with a proposition, suggesting that “this is a great time for somebody to start something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come.”

During an interview with Variety, Recording Academy interim president and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. defended the decisions of his committee, stating that “the people in that room care: there’s no agenda in there, there’s no ‘let’s snub this person or that person.’ It’s about: ‘Let’s try and find excellence.’”

And they both have a point. The Weeknd’s album After Hours was a critical and commercial hit. It’s perplexing at the least to see an album such as his completely left off the ballot—especially when you’re nudged out by John Legend.

But at the same time, this is the process. If those throughout the industry decide that other artists’ music is in whatever way superior to yours, take it in stride. 

“You have to remember that [the] committee can’t vote on something that’s not there,”  Mason Jr. stated. “They get a list of the 20 top vote-getters from the general voting field, and at that point they listen and talk about who to push forward as the final eight.”

Seemingly, The Weeknd got his fair shot.

In the grand scheme of things, almost everyone is going to feel that their favourite band or recording artist is, at some point in time, deserving of a Grammy. I could name dozens of albums from this year that are more deserving than any of these names, but that doesn’t mean I expect it.

At the end of the day, the Grammys are entertainment. Yes, their purpose is to recognize outstanding musical talent and artistry but without the viewership, no one is walking home with any hardware.

Leave a Reply