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Women Dominated The Grammys This Year 

Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, SZA, Billie Eilish, and Victoria Monet dominated the major categories at this year’s Grammy Awards, which many are praising as a ‘night for women’ in the industry.

Female Singer Silhoutte

Billie Eilish’s “Unintentional” Rise To Fame

Billie Eilish has truly come into her own within the past year. Not only did she recently become the first artist since 1981 to win in all of the big four Grammy categories (best new artist, album of the year, record of the year, song of the year), she also is the youngest artist to do so at just 18-years-old. Her ethereal voice, production quality, and intense lyricism has given her a career larger than most artists could ever dream of. She’s never shied away from the fact that throughout it all, it’s just been her and her brother Finneas, who also won Grammys for his work in production, making music in their bedroom. 

It seems as though Eilish really came into the scene and took over within a matter of minutes. Her rise to fame was just as fast as her mainstream chart success. Her entire family has also always been very much involved in the industry, so while it’s no surprise that she was able to find her way into the spotlight, it actually all happened by accident. 

For some background, Eilish was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the birthplace of most of America’s greatest entertainers. Her mother is Maggie Baird; a singer/songwriter as well as an actress. Her IMBd page credits her for co-writing and starring in the movie Life Inside Out, as well as voicing one of the characters in Mass Effect 2, a popular video game series. 

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Eilish’s father also has his fair share of Hollywood accolades. Patrick O’Connell was also in the movie Life Inside Out; along with Eilish’s older brother Finneas, they definitely made entering into the industry a family affair. O’Connell is also known for his roles in popular TV shows and movies such as Iron Man and The West Wing. 

Eilish’s parents were in the industry, working behind the scenes as well, long before either Billie or Finneas were born; so when it came to creating a home environment that emphasized creativity and the arts, Patrick and Maggie knew exactly what they were doing. The two homeschooled both kids starting early on in their lives as a means of allowing their kids to explore the creative sides of themselves. It wasn’t long until Finneas and Billie realized that they were both musically inclined. 

Eilish herself loved performance from a very young age due to her parents method of raising both her and her brother. One of their goals with homeschooling the kids was to make them both career-oriented but in a field that they were truly passionate about; and they were definitely successful in doing so. 

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At just 8-years-old Billie was already singing with her local choir and enrolled in multiple dance classes. Finneas, the now Grammy-winning songwriter and producer, was also already fully engaged with the behind the scenes aspects of music from an early age, creating the perfect recipe for success for the two siblings. 

By the time she was 13, Eilish was recognized by all her creative-arts teachers as a talented force to be reckoned with. So much so that one of her dance teachers asked her to write a song for a choreographed dance performance. With the help of her brother Finneas, Eilish wrote the now insanely popular track, “Ocean Eyes.” 

Once the two completed the track, they uploaded it to SoundCloud; a popular music-streaming site that most artists trying to make it upload their music too. Eilish uploaded the song onto the platform as an easy means to share it with her dance teacher, however, listeners had other plans, as the song went completely viral within its first 24 hours of being uploaded. 

The rest is truly history for Eilish’s career. After her initial SoundCloud success, Eilish and her brother continued to upload a few tracks onto the platform, including other now-popular songs like ‘Six Feet Under’ and ‘B****es Broken Hearts.’ Soon after she was signing a record deal and releasing her first EP, ‘don’t smile at me.’

Although her career has already become one of the greatest success stories in the music industry, Eilish says it’s still just her and her brother making music together at home and hoping everyone likes it. Based off the last year alone, I think it’s safe to say this is just the beginning for both Billie and Finneas.

Hiphop Singer on Stage

Tyler, The Creator Slams The Grammys For ‘Pigeonholing Black Artists’

Tyler, The Creator hit a monumental moment in his career this past weekend by winning his first ever Grammy award. However, in an age where award shows aren’t taken as seriously as they once were due to a slew of controversy, racial bias, and political unrest, it’s difficult to know how to react when one of your favorite artists wins. In terms of Tyler’s victory, the rapper himself wasn’t even sure how to react after his name was announced.

Tyler won the award for Best Rap Album for his 2019 record “IGOR,” which was widely well received by fans and critics alike when he first dropped it in May. When Tyler made his acceptance speech he was very appreciative and thankful to all those who helped him on his journey as an artist; his mom even joined him on stage and was clearly over-the-moon for her son. It wasn’t until the post-win press conference backstage where Tyler more openly expressed his thoughts on winning in the Rap category. 

“It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s 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,” he said.

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He went on to say that he was still extremely grateful for the win, however, he felt like it was more of a “backhanded compliment” due to the fact that black artists in general are only ever awarded a Grammy when they’re in the categories designated for rap or “urban” music. He went on to say that it would mean more to artists of color to be recognized on a more mainstream level instead of just being “pigeonholed in urban categories.” 

Especially because, more often than not, when white artists make albums that are outside the mainstream, such as Lana Del Rey or Billie Eilish who were both nominated for Album Of The Year, they’re awarded on that mainstream level that Tyler was referring to. 

It’s a fair point, and the results of this year’s Grammys in general only further prove it. Let’s look at Billie Eilish, who after this weekend became the first artist to take home all of the big four categories (Best New Artist, Song Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year) since 1981. Billie’s album has an extremely alternative sound outside the realm of mainstream radio pop music. Ethereal vocals, digitized instrumentals, and dialogue samples from television made “When We All Fall To Sleep, Where Do We Go?” one of the most distinct album nominations of the night. 

An album like Billie’s was obviously able to gain massive traction and success in what’s considered the “standard” of music even though it had such a different sound than what’s typically popular. So why shouldn’t a rap album be held to the same caliber when it also is so distinct in sound? Tyler and artists alike are wondering the same thing.   

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Sean “Diddy” Combs also discussed his concerns with the Academy at the annual pre-Grammy gala where he was honored with the “Salute to Industry Icons Award.” 

“Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be. So, right now, in this current situation, it’s not a revelation. This thing been going on and it’s not just going on in music. It’s going on in film. It’s going on in sports, It’s going on around the world. We need transparency. We need diversity, ” he said.

The Recording Academy has recently announced new diversity initiatives to make their award shows truly inclusive and representative of all types of music and artists, however, many believe that’s just a band-aid the Academy has claimed in light of the recent controversy surrounding former CEO Deborah Dugan. 

It’s up to the audience and artists to understand that a gold trophy decided upon by a group of individuals in a conference room doesn’t determine the success of a particular body of work. Music is subjective and should be treated as such. If we want any chance at taking award shows, like the Grammys, seriously in the future, a major systematic change needs to occur from within that proves to individuals inside and outside the industry that all types of sounds and artists have a fair shot at winning.

Award

Grammys CEO Alleges Sexual Misconduct And Corruption In Recording Academy

Just five days before the biggest night in music, Chief Executive and President of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan, has not only been suspended on allegations of misconduct, but has filed her own 44 page legal complaint against the Academy itself in response. 

The Recording Academy is obviously responsible for organizing the Grammy Awards every year. Award season seems to always be rooted in controversy, favoritism, and political rhetoric, and typically, most of the heat is directed towards the Academy itself, and while that’s also the case in this situation, there’s never been an internalized issue to this magnitude so close to the show date itself. 

In her legal complaint, Dugan made multiple allegations of voting corruption within the Academy and how it chooses the winners yearly. However, this piece of information is being slightly overlooked by the much more serious accusation against former Chief Executive of the Grammys, Neil Portnow. Portnow was Dugan’s predecessor from 2002 to 2019, and the reason he was removed from the position has everything to do with the allegation made against him. 

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Recording Academy president and CEO Deborah Dugan

“Ms Dugan was hauled into a conference room and told – for the very first time – that a foreign recording artist (and member of the academy) had accused Mr Portnow of raping her following a performance that she gave at Carnegie Hall. The news was presented to Ms Dugan as though the board had just learned of the allegation. In reality, they were well aware of the allegation at the time Ms Dugan agreed to take on the CEO position, but never told her,” according to the legal complaint filed by Dugan’s team.

Further into the complaint Dugan also claims that chairman of the Academy, John Poppo, later pressured her into “rehiring Portnow as a consultant with a $750,000 salary.” This legal issue, as you can likely tell, has been a constant tennis match of allegations against each other, less than a week before the Grammys nonetheless. 

The academy released a response to Dugan’s complaint claiming that it was “peculiar” she decided to file a lawsuit a week after her suspension following her own allegations of misconduct. In the allegations against Dugan, members of the academy, including the current interim chief, claimed she created a “toxic and intolerable” environment for her employees and was “abusive and a bully” to everyone under her. The Academy also claimed that Dugan demanded a “severance” of $22 million for her resignation, a claim she has since refuted. 

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To make a basic timeline of events so far: while Dugan was acting Chief Executive, she filed a complaint with her higher-ups regarding voting corruption within the Academy, to which they responded with a multi-million dollar offer for Dugan to drop everything and resign. When she refused their offer, they put her on leave and the allegations against Dugan were filed. Once legal action against Dugan was taken, she took it upon herself to write a 44 page legal complaint with her team in which she outlines all of this, her original complaint with the Academy, and newer accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct within the Academy, in particular the accusation of rape against Neil Portnow. 

Specifically, Dugan’s complaint claims that “the Grammy’s board has decided to shroud the process in secrecy, and ultimately controls, in large part, who is nominated [and] manipulates the nominations process to ensure that certain songs or albums are nominated when the producer of the Grammys [Ken Ehrlich] wants a particular song performed on the show.”

Dugan’s allegations are just another part of a long list of complaints that many viewers, artists, producers, etc. all have with the Grammys. Many artists in the past have called out the Academy for white washing the awards, and have since boycotted attending. The 2020 Grammy awards are this Sunday, January 26th, and will be hosted by Alicia Keys for the second year in a row. It will be interesting to see how much of this behind the scenes legal drama will make its way to all of our screens.  

Golden Trophy

BTS Snubbed By 2020 Grammy Nominations

It’s that time of year when the Grammy nominations are announced and fans across the world discuss who they feel should or should not have been nominated, who should win, who shouldn’t, who has been ignored and of course there will be the annual calls of racism. And this year is no different.

The 2019 awards in February saw many artists appearing to boycott the ceremony in a stance against what has been claimed a ‘mainly male, mainly white voting body’. Following other movements such as #OscarsSoWhite, #TimesUp and #MeToo, it was felt that maybe now is the time to step up against the lack of diversity in the different categories.

Many claimed the boycott a success, saying that hopefully the next award ceremony would be more inclusive.

However, when the 2020 nominations were confirmed it was clear that K Pop band ‘BTS’ had been left off the list, much to the dismay and confusion of fans and everywhere.

Unless you have been living under a rock you will have heard of boy band BTS. Created in 2013 the group enjoyed success in their home country of South Korea before heading out to conquer the rest of the world. In 2017 they changed the meaning of their name from ‘Bangtan Sonyeondan’ – meaning Bulletproof Scout Boys – to “Beyond The Scene” in an attempt to attract more English speaking fans. The ploy worked and 2018 saw their releases Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer both reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Their third release – Map of the Soul: Persona – debuted at No. 1 in April this year, making BTS the first group to achieve three top hits in under a year since The Beatles in 1996 (Anthology).

BTS are not only a successful studio band, they recently closed their hugely successful Love Yourself: Speak Yourself Tour. A tour that sold nearly 1 million tickets around the world, grossing $117 million.

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Their Halsey-assisted hit ‘Boy with Luv’ was their highest Billboard Hot 100 hit, peaking at No. 8, and the following RIAA platinum certification has further increased awareness of the band.

So with these accolades behind them – plus many more we have not mentioned here – it seemed an obvious conclusion that BTS would receive a Grammy nomination. Whether they were nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album or Album or Record of the Year nobody knew however it was clear they would be named in at least one section.

So the total omission of the group highlights once again the Recording Academy’s failure to keep up to date with who is hot and who is not, especially from cultures outside of the “white’ remit.

It seems that whichever awards ceremony you look at throughout ‘Awards Season’ has a poor relationship with artists of color. Not only confined to the Grammy’s, black artists seem to struggle when it comes to recognition of their achievements.

Since the first Grammy ceremony was held in 1959, artists are honored for the work they produced the previous year. Yet in the 61 years since that first ceremony few black artists have been awarded the Album of the Year award. The Academy has also been criticized for placing the majority of non-white artists in the rap or R&B sections.

It is also widely acknowledged that less successful artists have been awarded ahead of commercially and critically successful works, while ‘non-white’ artists are constantly being reduced to ‘others’ or ignored completely. As a hugely successful, worldwide, non-white music act, BTS have been spectacularly ignored in all aspects.

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And all though not everyone will appreciate BTS’s music they must at least appreciate that they have been wildly successful and therefore, deserving of some sort of accolade at the Grammy.

BTS’s albums, streams, concerts and videos have consistently outsold many of their Western contemporaries with many artists lining up to collaborate with them. It is also ironic that in an attempt to appear up-to-date the Grammy actually asked them to perform at the awards last year.

Back in 2017 the Recording Academy were accused of racism when Beyonce was beaten by Adele for Album of the Year, prompting Adele to break her award in half to ‘share’ it with Queen Bey. However Grammy boss Neil Portnow hit back stating,

‘I don’t think there’s a race problem at all. We don’t, as musicians, listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity.’

However many were not convinced with the idea that the 14,000 members of the Recording Academy ‘almost put a blindfold on’ when listening to nominated songs and albums.

Whatever the awarding bodies seem to think BTS fans have responded in their usual way. Sales have increased on all their products as well as increasing numbers of streams. In fact BTS’s complete works have been boosted back into the iTunes Top Albums chart for America so although BTS may not be winning a Grammy, their pockets certainly are winners.

Golden Trophy

The 2020 Grammy Nominations Are Here!

The 62nd annual Grammy awards are just around the corner and the highly anticipated nominations were finally announced this Wednesday. New artists that have emerged in popularity throughout 2019 have truly taken over; Lizzo being the most nominated artist this year with a total of eight nominations! Swifties were disappointed to see that Taylor Swift only acquired a total of three nominations, Album Of The Year not being one of them. However, the year of the new artist has truly graced all of our ears this year, and the nominations uphold that. 

Following Lizzo, both Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X are two more new artists that are leading the nominations with six each! All three of them are first-time Grammy nominees, making this one of the most new artist nominated awards shows to date. 

Album Of The Year includes all three of those artists with their respective albums from 2019, and additionally includes Ariana Grande for her album “Thank U, Next,” Bon Iver’s “I, I,” Lana Del Rey’s “Norman F***ing Rockwell,” H.E.R.’s “I Used To Know Her,” and finally Vampire Weekend’s, “Father Of The Bride,” making them the only band nominated in the category. 

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Alicia Keys is hosting the Grammy’s again this year after a successful job last year; this also makes Keys the first female to ever host the show twice, she’s also the third woman to ever host the show in general. Which speaks volumes to why the awards this year are so heavily saturated with newer and more diverse nominees. In the past, all of the major award shows have been highly criticized for being extremely white washed and male dominated. While improvements have been made within the past decade, there’s still plenty of room to go and grow. 

Everyone remembers in 2017 when Adele won Album and Song of the Year over Beyoncé Knowles, who dominated with her “Lemonade” album that year. Adele herself said in both of her acceptance speeches that she felt Knowles was more deserving of the awards, sparking a massive online debate over the integrity of a group of individuals deciding what music they deemed to be award worthy every year. Frankly, they’ve lost their credibility. 

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The ratings have shown it to, this year both the VMA’s and the Emmy’s saw a record low rating of viewers, for reasons similar to those listed above. People aren’t as interested in seeing people awarded for accomplishments based off one groups opinions. For this reason, many major award shows are trying to base their ranking system based on public reaction and reception. With social media being as powerful as it is now, it’s easy to get a large focus group digitally to come together and tell the academy what worked, and what didn’t. 

While this year may have been dominated by the new artists, it seems as though the public is still bothered by the fact that those newcomers knocked out more established artists in categories they felt they were more than qualified to be nominated for, such as Taylor Swift, BTS, and Bruce Springsteen, who released a live Broadway album this year. 

“The Grammy’s have long been accused of not keeping up with the times and ‘playing it safe’ by honoring the tried and true artists in the industry. But this year it appears to be mostly about the new blood, with some of the more established performers actually being snubbed,” (CNN).

While the public may never be fully satisfied by the system in which these award nominations are chosen, the Grammy’s are always one of the most viewed award shows and this year it most likely won’t be any different. 

For the rest of the Grammy nominations for 2020; click here.