Grammys and Color

So the Grammys are tomorrow. And for the first time in I don't know how long, the Album of the Year category has nary a white man. In fact, the only artist who isn't a person of color is Lorde. And it seems set up for Lorde to win and people to get upset, but of all artists, this isn't late-period Beck or Steely Dan: Lorde is really good. That said, she shouldn't win.

It's been a decade since an artist of color won AotY, and that was late-period Herbie Hancock. Hancock is a legend, too, but that's not exactly contemporary urban music. So what I'm going to do is go over the last 20 years, list the winner and the other nominees, and decide if a contemporary urban artist should have won, based entirely on my own opinion. I'm not getting into other albums released that year that should have been nominated because I don't have that much time.  The Grammys get one point for correctly choosing a contemporary urban artist, they lose one for choosing some out of touch album when a hip-hop/R+B etc album was nominated and better, and they stay neutral if one wasn't nominated and better.

1998 (the year listed is the year of the show, so it'll be 1998-2017:

Winner:

Bob Dylan, Time out of Mind

Other nominees: 

The Day – Babyface

This Fire – Paula Cole

Flaming Pie – Paul McCartney

OK Computer – Radiohead

Verdict: uhhhhhh what were they nominating back then? I guess Radiohead should have won. So, no, no, that's a nope. Score: Zero.

1999:

Winner: 

Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Nominees: YOU DON'T NEED ANY OTHER NOMINEES THEY GOT THIS RIGHT.

Score: One point.

2000: 

Winner:

Santana - Supernatural

Nominees:

Millennium – Backstreet Boys

Fly – Dixie Chicks

When I Look in Your Eyes – Diana Krall

FanMail – TLC

Verdict: uhhhh. My god. Look, Satana tied Michael Jackson's single ceremony record with 8 wins that night, and sold like a jillion records. And that is hardly TLC at their best. So... yeah, no. Score: Still one point.

2001 (aka the year I started paying attention, oh boy):

Winner:

Steely Dan - Two Against Nature

Nominees:

Midnite Vultures – Beck

The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem

Kid A – Radiohead

You're the One – Paul Simon

Verdict: You know what I'm going to say. Radiohead would have been fine, but no, the Marshall Mathers LP should have won. Come on now.

Score: Back to zero points.

2002:

Winner:

Various Artists - O Brother Where Art Thou? Soundtrack

Nominees:

Acoustic Soul – India.Arie

Love and Theft – Bob Dylan

Stankonia – OutKast

All That You Can't Leave Behind – U2

Verdict: Oh man, this is the most Grammy thing ever. A random bluegrass soundtrack from a movie that was more than a year old. Either India.Arie (what happened to her?) or OutKast should have taken that, though OutKast got theirs later, so.

Score: -1.

2003:

Winner:

Norah Jones - Come Away With Me

Nominees:

Home – Dixie Chicks

The Eminem Show – Eminem

Nellyville – Nelly

The Rising – Bruce Springsteen

Verdict: That Norah Jones thing didn't last very long, did it? She's actually an artist of color (her dad is south Asian music legend), but boy was that not contemporary music, and they love that. As for the choices? Nelly? ehhhhhhh 

If I'm being honest, this isn't really a bad choice. I'm being an Eminem stan, of course that's wrong. But I'll let them have this one. They'll lose more points later.

Score: Still -1

2004:

Winner:

OutKast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Nominees:

Nope, they got it right. Good job. Though you and I both know they won because Andre 3000 likes to experiment, not because Big Boi is awesome too.

Score: Zero.

2005:

Winner:

Ray Charles - Genius Loves Company

Nominees:

American Idiot – Green Day

The Diary of Alicia Keys – Alicia Keys

Confessions – Usher

The College Dropout – Kanye West

Verdict: Charles had died, and they had recorded "duets" with his voice. Of course the Grammys love that nonsense. They had so many choices here. Kanye was the best, as he will be again on this list.

Score: Back to -1.

2006:

Winner: 

U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

Nominees:

The Emancipation of Mimi – Mariah Carey

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard – Paul McCartney

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. – Gwen Stefani

Late Registration – Kanye West

Verdict: Do the Grammys know they actually HAVE a lifetime achievement award? They don't have to give competitive awards as such. Here's Kanye again, and a legit very good Mariah album. There's a lot of hip hop on that Stefani album too. Bad, bad choice.

Score: -2

2007:

Winner:

Dixie Chicks - Taking the Long Way

Nominees:

St. Elsewhere – Gnarls Barkley

Continuum – John Mayer

Stadium Arcadium – Red Hot Chili Peppers

FutureSex/LoveSounds – Justin Timberlake

Verdict: Oh man. I'm torn. Cee-Lo Green and JT are jerkholes, but those are great albums. On the other hand, the Dixie Chicks had their lives threatened and made a great album out of it. I can't fight with that.

Score: Still -2

2008:

Winner:

Herbie Hancock - River: The Joni Letters

Nominees:

Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace – Foo Fighters

These Days – Vince Gill

Graduation – Kanye West

Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

Verdict: It's Kanye again, for the third time. Sigh. Though knowing what we know now, Amy (whose music was def urban) should have won. Fail.

Score: -3.

2009:

Winner:

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand

Nominees:

Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends – Coldplay

Year of the Gentleman – Ne-Yo

In Rainbows – Radiohead

Tha Carter III – Lil Wayne

Verdict: What a barf of a nominee list. Frankly it should have been Radiohead. But their choice was SOOO out of touch that, yeah, even Ne-Yo was better.

Score: -4.

2010:

Winner:

Taylor Swift - Fearless

Nominees:

I Am... Sasha Fierce – Beyoncé

The E.N.D. – The Black Eyed Peas

The Fame – Lady Gaga

Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King – Dave Matthews Band

Verdict: Here's this damn girl. Sigh. But Kanye was right (at a different awards show), Beyonce should have won. Because of course.

Score: -5.

2011:

Winner:

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Nominees:

Recovery – Eminem

Need You Now – Lady Antebellum

The Fame Monster – Lady Gaga

Teenage Dream – Katy Perry

Verdict: Honestly, that Katy Perry album might be the best one. But I really like The Suburbs and Arcade Fire. I'm okay with this.

Score: Still -5.

2012:

Winner:

Adele - 21

Nominees:

Wasting Light – Foo Fighters

Born This Way – Lady Gaga

Doo-Wops & Hooligans – Bruno Mars

Loud – Rihanna

Verdict: I didn't realize Lady Gaga had lost this three times, too. Uh, yeah, 21 is a really great album. It's way better than 25, which we'll get to.

Score: Still -5.

2013:

Winner:

Mumford and Sons - Babel

Nominees:

El Camino – The Black Keys

Some Nights – fun.

Channel Orange – Frank Ocean

Blunderbuss – Jack White

Verdict: I don't like Frank Ocean's own music that much (and his performance was terrible), but everything is better than Mumford. So is fun.

Score: -6

2014:

Winner:

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Nominees:

The Blessed Unrest – Sara Bareilles

Good Kid, M.A.A.D City – Kendrick Lamar

The Heist – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Red – Taylor Swift

Verdict: Oh man. Oh man. Daft Punk is awesome. I'm sorry Kendrick. That album bumps too hard.

Score: Still -6.

2015:

Winner:

Beck - Morning Phase

Nominees:

Beyoncé – Beyoncé

x – Ed Sheeran

Girl – Pharrell Williams

In the Lonely Hour – Sam Smith

Verdict: So grammy. SOOO grammy. Beyonce, of course.

Score: -7.

2016:

Winner:

Taylor Swift - 1989

Nominees:

Sound & Color – Alabama Shakes

To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar

Traveller – Chris Stapleton

Beauty Behind the Madness – The Weeknd

Verdict: This was the acceptance speech where Taylor ruined her image by lying because Kim K had those receipts. hahahaha. Anyway, yeah, nope, nope, nope.

Score: -8.

2017:

Winner:

Adele - 25

Nominees:

Lemonade – Beyoncé

Purpose – Justin Bieber

Views – Drake

A Sailor's Guide to Earth – Sturgill Simpson

Verdict: Even Adele thought Beyonce should have won.

Score: - 9.

So, in 20 years, the grammys have given the top award to a hip hop/r and b record twice. There were a few times when hip hop and r and b didn't deserve to win, and then 11 times they should have given it to them but didn't. That's not a good omen for tomorrow. Beyonce, Eminem, Kanye and Kendrick will be fine, they have like 20 grammys each (well, Kendrick will someday). But maybe tomorrow can buck their stupid trend.

And of course, if anyone, it'll be Jay-Z, who is now the U2 of rap (except his album was good).

Comment

Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality