Controversy at the Grammy Awards: shocking!

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Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs perform "Fast Car" at the 2024 Grammy Awards. Photo by Kevin Winter for the Recording Academy.

Heartbreak, outrage, excitement, annoyance: what could cause all of these emotions in just the span of three and a half hours? The 2024 Grammy Awards, duh. For those who care, and for those who pretend they don’t, here’s everything you should know about what went down at this year’s Grammy Awards and why so many are still talking about the show.

Let’s start with the good stuff! Dua Lipa opened up the awards and was later followed by a surprise performance by Tracy Chapman, singing her hit song “Fast Car” alongside Luke Combs. The performance was stunning— Chapman’s voice has somehow gotten even better from her earlier years. We also got a riveting performance from SZA, who took home a few Grammy Awards, winning Best Progressive R&B Album, Best Pop Duo with Phoebe Bridgers for their song “Ghost in the Machine” and Best R&B Song with “Snooze,” which she gracefully accepted while also fangirling when she saw Taylor Swift standing up for her. 

Now, to completely shatter our hearts, Billie Eilish and FINNEAS together performed their song “What Was I Made For?” from the hit movie “Barbie,” creating a beautiful moment that made their later win for song of the year even more lovely. We also got a performance from the iconic Joni Mitchell over 50 years after her first Grammy win. This was Mitchell’s first-ever Grammy performance, and what an amazing performance it was. She also won a Grammy this year for Best Folk Album. To add onto the icons, Billy Joel performed his new song “Turn the Lights Back On” alongside Laufey, who won her first Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album with her record “Bewitched.” As a heavy Laufey fan, it was so magical to see her get the recognition she deserves. She wasn’t the only one who won their first Grammy, as Miley Cryus won two for her song “Flowers.” 

What excited me even more was Boygenius winning not one, not two, but three Grammy awards. Sad music lovers across the world are screaming right now. The band won two of the awards for their song “Not Strong Enough” and won Best Alternative Album for their debut LP “The Record.” It was so cute watching them accept each award, sprinting to the stage, and being starstruck. It was all so deserved. 

Speaking of deserved, here’s where the drama comes in. Olivia Rodrigo didn’t take home any Grammy Awards, which was shocking considering the success of “GUTS” and her turnout from the last award show. I mean if you know me, I’m a huge fan of “GUTS”, and I can’t say that I wasn’t upset when she didn’t take home anything. 

Controversy over awards doesn’t end there though. Jay-Z took to the stage to accept his Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, and while most of his speech was focused on thanking the many important people in his life, he ended it by saying to the Academy, “We want you to get it right.” He went on to say that some of the artists don’t belong in the category. Now, Beyoncé did not look too pleased with him when he said this, and many others weren’t too pleased either, but it definitely had people talking about the concept of deservingness.

This brings us to the biggest piece of controversy of the night: Taylor Swift. Horror!! All kidding aside, here’s what went down. Swift won two awards, the first being Best Pop Vocal Album for “Midnights,” where she then announced that she will be releasing her 11th studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department.” Hello? Personally, I screamed, and as a fan, I am excited to hear this new record and how the song “So Long, London” will absolutely destroy me. Yet some people claim that her announcing this was selfish and an attempt to make the night about her, which perhaps is true or not. Regardless, I’m excited for the album.

Oh there’s more. When Swift made history by winning Album of the Year for the fourth time, being the first artist ever to have won the award that many times, she not only received hate that she didn’t deserve the award, but for bringing Lana Del Rey up on the stage with her. Apparently, many believe it was humiliating to bring Del Rey up, saying that she deserves to be on the stage when she is winning her own award. Now, I agree, to an extent. Del Rey has for sure been snubbed one too many times at the award show, with her music being revolutionary and, as Swift mentioned on the stage, shaping the music industry for many female artists. Though I think it is a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation. Swift brought up everyone who helped her produce “Midnights,” and that includes Del Rey. If Swift brought everyone but her, she’d be receiving the same amount of hate. So what’s the point of aiming all the hate onto Swift, when it could be focused on the academy for not recognizing Del Rey and many other deserving artists?

All in all, there’s no shock that the Grammy Awards left people angry, disappointed and full of rage. All emotions are valid of course, and I believe we should question the Academy for not recognizing some of the several artists who should have won, but perhaps we should leave the Awards feeling a little more positive. After all, the night is intended to honor musicians that have shaped our lives with the music that they’ve created.

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