The Grammys spark controversy yet again

Lack of artists of color, despite popularity and talent, rubs today’s fans the wrong way

Sophie Shram, Staff Writer

With the 2021 Grammy Awards nominations announced, old controversies are once again being brought to light. Previously, the Grammys have been accused of being rigged for racial bias due to the snubbing of artists of color, and this year is no different. Fans and artists alike were outraged at the nominations, and rightfully so as many minority artists were arguably robbed of nominations despite their undeniable success this year. 

To fully understand why fans and artists are so outraged by this year’s selections, one must take into consideration the previous treatment of people of color throughout Grammy history. In 2016, after rapper Kendrick Lamar lost the Album of The Year Grammy to singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, John Vilanova, an interdisciplinary scholar from Lehigh University, discussed the lack of diversity in the show with National Public radio in 2017.

“In the last ten years, there have been seventeen non-white artists nominated for the Grammy Award for album of the year, of those seventeen, the only winner was Herbie Hancock in 2008. His album was a collection of covers of songs by the white folk artist Joni Mitchell,” Vilanova told NPR.

The lack of racial equality is clear and has been addressed by many artists, though, the issue is still apparent in the 2021 nominations with the snubbing of critically acclaimed POC artists such as The Weeknd and BTS.

The Korean pop group received one nomination for Best Pop/Duo Performance, though their fans believed they deserved more recognition, especially for the coveted Best Album of the Year award. After their album “Map of the Seoul: 7″ and single “Dynamite” broke streaming records and dominated the billboard charts for weeks, fans highly anticipated more nominations but were sorely disappointed at the lack thereof. 

Additionally, despite The Weeknd having arguably the best year of his career with his album “After Hours,” he received zero nominations. In response to that, he made a powerful tweet stating, ‘The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.” Following the tweet, heavy discourse ensued amongst fans who disagreed with the Grammys decision considering how every song on his album made it onto Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart. 

While the 2021 Grammys did feature more women in its nominations, creators of color are still just an afterthought. The Weeknd’s call for transparency in nominee selections is definitely justified and needs to be addressed along with the need for an  explanation about their lack of diversity. It is critical for BIPOC youth to see creators with similar backgrounds as themselves being represented in the media. Hopefully the new year will bring on more openness and diversity from the Grammys as it was severely lacking this year due to its blatant disregard of successful artists from all backgrounds.