Racial prejudice at the Grammys

Payton Zagacki, Editor-in-Chief


Of all the pop culture related topics, the one dominating conversations all across the nation is the lack of Grammy nominations for the award winning artist The Weeknd. The Weeknd was at the top of all the expert predictions with his fourth studio album “Blinding Lights.” 

Fans and artists alike are now blaming this outrageous snub on the racial bias that surrounds the Grammys. Since the first Grammys in 1957, a mere 10 black artists have won the Album of the Year Award. The most historic of Album of the Year snubs include the failure to nominate Prince’s 1999 and Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall”, Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” losing to Mumford and Sons, Kendric Lamar’s loss to Daft Punk in 2014 and his loss to Taylor Swift in 2016.

Some argue that artists of color instead win smaller “racialized” categories. One of these artists is the world renowned artist, Beyonce. 18 out of 24 of her Grammy awards were won in these small categories, though she has been nominated in several major categories.  One of her most recognisable losses was in the category of Album of the Year where her album “Lemonade” lost to Adele’s “25,” outraging Beyonce fans across the world who took to social media accusing the Grammys of racial bias. Adele herself even believes Beyonce deserved to win the award.

Beyonce isn’t the only artist affected in past years. After winning his first Grammy, Tyler the Creator had some choice words about the voting process for the famous award show. “I’m very grateful that what I made could just be acknowledged in a world like this, but also it sucks that whenever we, and I mean guys that look like me, do anything that’s genre-bending, or anything, they always put it in a rap or urban category. I don’t like that urban word, it’s just a politically correct way to say the N-word to me. When I hear that, I’m just like, why can’t we just be in pop? Half of me feels like the rap nomination was a backhanded compliment,” he told reporters in a press conference after his win. Many artists, such as Kanye West and Frank Ocean, choose to not just call out the Recording Academy but to refuse to nominate their music entirely. 

This alleged racial bias is often blamed on a controversial voting process. The voting academy is made up of 10,000 individuals in the music industry that meet the requirements. These members must pay a yearly fee to stay a voting member of the Recording Academy. Members are able to nominate and vote in several different categories, causing the controversy. Members are able to vote in categories that they have very little knowledge of. Another issue is brought up by nominating well known artists, as voters have a tendency to blindly nominate and vote for artists solely because they are well known. The controversy continues when an anonymous member of the recording revealed a secret voting committee that decides the final five nominees.

The Grammys clearly have issues regarding the accused racial bias that is ever present at the award show, blamed on a controversial voting process. Changes need to be made before the famous award show loses to many viewers and artists making the show boring and unwatchable.