After last week's controversy at the Oscars, the 64th annual Grammy Awards seemed quite tame in comparison. Initially planned for January 31st, the Grammys was postponed due to concerns over the Omicron variant. Taking place in Las Vegas, the 2022 Grammys was an enjoyable (and somewhat predictable) award show with some deserved winners and solid performances. While I might not be the biggest fan of the Grammys, they're an important part of the music industry and act as an interesting temperature guage for the current year in music.
The most notable moment of the night was undoubtedly a surprise speech by Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelensky, appealing for help and support in their ongoing struggle. Zelensky's speech was followed by a performance of John Legend's "Free", in which Ukrainian artists like the singer Mika Newton and the poet Lyuba Yakimchuk also performed. I was blown away by 19-year-old Disney star Olivia Rodrigo's performance of "Driver's License", as well as Lil Nas X's choreography-heavy medley of hits. BTS and Billie Eilish also brought a bit of fun to the Grammys with two raucous performances.
The Grammys has long been ridiculed for not being a particularly "good" award show. The voting panel is largely considered out-of-touch and they've made some fairly poor decisions in the past (Natalie Cole in 1992 I'm looking at you). This year, unfortunately, was no exception. The biggest winner of the night was Jon Batiste for his album WE ARE. Although a meticulously produced album, I would be hard pushed to find much originality in any of the tracks. That being said, Batiste's words after the Grammys highlight one of its biggest flaws; "There is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor. The creative arts are subjective and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most." Ultimately, getting everyone to agree on what is, or is not, the best music of the year is an incredibly difficult task.
That's not to say that there weren't some good winners. Anderson .Paak finally got the recognition he deserves, winning Record of the Year for his collaboration with Bruno Mars, Silk Sonic. Tyler, The Creator also won best Rap album for his brilliant record, Call Me If You Get Lost. Unfortunately, these wins can't remedy one of the biggest blunders of the night; the awarding of Best Reggae album to SOJA for their record, Beauty In The Silence. Regardless of music's subjectivity, Beauty In The Silence is a truly woeful album. It really boggles my mind how a predominantly white band with dreadlocks from the USA can beat The Queen of Dancehall, Spice. SOJA were the only non-Jamaican group nominated for the award and this victory is a real loss for Reggae and Caribbean culture in general. Wins like these really expose the out-of-touch nature of the Grammys and reflect poorly on the voting panel. While stacked with plenty of good performances, the awards at the Grammys really leave a lot to be desired. Real change will be needed to make the Grammys credible again.