Melanie and I have been a little wrapped up in life lately, and we’ve been slow to bring new content to the blog. We’re still getting used to keeping up this little place!
I did take some time last week (during a little winter getaway with my boyfriend to celebrate our 5 year anniversary, no less!) to watch part of the Grammy awards. Let me tell you, I’m angry, but I’m trying to be measured about it. The Grammy’s are always entertaining, but a few things this year left me scratching my head.
Namely, why did Taylor Swift win the Grammy for best album of the year? Sure, 1989 is full of catchy songs, but what else? What makes it Grammy worthy? What do the Grammy’s even evaluate to name a winner? I’ll admit that I can appreciate that Taylor is the first woman to win two album of the year awards. Girl power! But beyond that, I’m unimpressed. What does she have to say with her music that other female artists don’t do in more meaningful or artistic ways?
Also, she totally stole that award from Kendrick Lamar. All year I’ve been hearing about the genius To Pimp a Butterfly and having listened to it myself several times: yeah, it’s a spectacular album. That speaks a lot to the kind of people that I associate with and the kind of music that I appreciate, but I’m inclined to agree with the Guardian, who call it, “Uneasy, agitated, bleak, desperate: To Pimp a Butterfly sounded like 2015 frequently felt.” It was an important album in a year when, according to Time, “[the] Black Lives Matter [movement] blossomed from a protest cry into a genuine political force.” Kendrick’s Grammy performance, which had him rapping in handcuffs and dancing with traditional masked dancers, made a huge, unapologetic statement about Blackness in America.
[Feminist side-note: why can Kendrick make a comment on the mass incarceration of Blacks in the U.S. and it goes over fairly well, whereas Beyoncé makes a subtle statement about police violence and the whole continent goes bonkers? Double standard, much?]
As a kind of consolation, people keep reminding me that Kendrick cleaned up the rap categories at the awards. But why do we refuse to recognize outstanding rap music outside of the rap categories?
And one more thing: Taylor’s acceptance speech about being confident in your success is important for girls and women everywhere to hear. However, implicit in her speech was a diss on Kanye West – which is understandable given the lyric about her in The Life of Pablo. Good for Taylor for standing up for herself. But please, let’s stop kicking Kanye when he’s down. He’s always been a bit of a narcissist – if he were white we might call some of his behaviour self-promotion – but his latest Twitter rants are uncharacteristic and unstable even for him. His music and lyrics reveal his struggles with anxiety and if this is a kind of breakdown for him the media needs to have some respect and his fans need to offer their support. If you don’t like his music I can quietly respect that, but I think we can all agree that mental health needs to be addressed in the media, and if we think it doesn’t apply to Kanye West we’re screwing up.
This whole week I’ve been debating Taylor’s big Grammy win, and I’m no less troubled with it seven days later. It’s so easy for us all to smile for Taylor as she makes that surprised face she makes and accepts her award. After that, we never talk about it again. Why not give us a winner that we can talk about? Or even argue about? It might not be safe, but it would certainly be more interesting.
Let me know what you think in the comments!