The 60th Annual Grammy Award ceremony stirred up quite a bit of controversy last week. One of the most heavily discussed issues involved Bruno Mars, who took home three awards in the most sought-after categories: Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Record of the Year. It was a huge feat for Mars. In the music industry, winning these three awards in one night is incredibly rare.
However, some viewers felt that other nominees deserved these awards due to the impact of their songs on society. For example, Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” caused the suicide hotline’s call rate to soar. This spike in callers occurred after his performance at both the MTV Music Awards in 2017 and the Grammy Awards this year. Many felt that a song with such a significant impact on people’s lives should have won the Grammy.
Another aspect of controversy arose when Ed Sheeran won the award for Best Pop Solo Performance for his song “Shape of You.” Sheeran’s competition included Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons,” Kesha’s “Praying,” Pink’s “What About Us” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Love So Soft.” Gaga even called out the Recording Academy in a tweet, writing “PRAYING AND MILLION REASONS, TWO EMPOWERING AND IMPACTFUL SONGS, LOST TO GENERIC, RADIO-FODDER LIKE SHAPE OF YOU. WELL DONE, RECORDING ACADEMY.” Gaga was not the only one to voice hurt, upset and confused emotions after this win. Other Twitter users questioned Sheeran’s win and the Recording Academy’s priorities and motives.
PRAYING AND MILLION REASONS, TWO EMPOWERING AND IMPACTFUL SONGS, LOST TO GENERIC, RADIO-FODDER LIKE SHAPE OF YOU. WELL DONE, RECORDING ACADEMY.— Lady Gaga (@gagamonster96) January 29, 2018
The underwhelming number of female winners proved another catalyst for controversy. Alessia Cara, winner of the Best New Artist Grammy, was one of the female musicians to claim a solo award. Women won only 11 out of the 84 total awards of the evening. SZA was the most-nominated female act, yet she left the awards show empty-handed. To make matters worse, Neil Portnow, the Recording Academy president, told reporters that women needed “step up.” Variety later reported that the ceremony’s organizers refused to offer Lorde a performance slot of her own, yet Lorde was the only female nominee for Album of the Year.
The lack of female winners should come as little to no surprise, considering just 9.3 percent of nominees in the past five years have been women. To add to the controversy, compensation among female musicians is extremely scattered. Among the highest-paid musicians of 2017 as measured by “Forbes,” only five of 25 are women. These five include Beyoncé, Adele, Taylor Swift, Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez.
The entire award ceremony raised several concerns regarding Portnow’s motives and industry leadership. Many questioned why Bruno Mars won three of the most coveted awards in one night and left with six awards by the end of the ceremony. However, the Grammy Awards are based off song popularity based on total listeners. It does not consider the song’s impact on society or the messages it sends to those who listen, even though it should undoubtedly do so.