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The 62nd Grammy Awards: Billie Eilish Making History, Somber Tributes, & Unspoken Drama

The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards – which are still somehow attempting to be relevant in 2020 – were wry with historic wins, moving performances, somber tributes, and quiet controversy. 

The most surprising results of the night came from 18-year-old Billie Eilish; the alternative pop star completely swept the top prizes of best album, song, record, and artist of the year. Not only was she the first artist since Christopher Cross in 1981 to achieve such a feat, but she also became the youngest artist ever to win Album of the Year – dethroning Taylor Swift. Her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? additionally took home the award for Best Pop Vocal Album.

In other categories, Lizzo, the most nominated artist of the evening, won Best Pop Solo Performance for her smash hit “Truth Hurts” just before giving a rousing performance of said song. Then, that song of the summer that no one seemed capable of escaping, “Old Town Road” gave Lil Nas X his first Grammy alongside Billy Ray Cyrus for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The unusual pair additionally won the award for Best Music Video.

In the rock world, bluesy-soul guitarist Gary Clark Jr. took home three Grammys for his memorable political track “This Land” and the album of the same name: Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance, and Contemporary Blues Album. Kentucky rockers Cage The Elephant won their first ever Grammy since forming as a group 14 years ago for their record Social Cues. Meanwhile, Grammy veterans Vampire Weekend won Best Alternative Album for the second time since 2014; their first win was for Modern Vampires of the City and this year, Father of the Bride brought it home.

The always colorful Tyler, The Creator accepted the award for Best Rap Album alongside his mother and Best Rap Performance was posthumously won by LA rapper and local legend Nipsey Hussle who died earlier this year. His win began one of many tributes of the evening; Usher, Sheila E., and FKA Twigs also performed a medley of songs honoring the late, great Prince – the result of which seems to have audiences split.

The most moving moment of the night actually occurred merely minutes into the telecast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles when host Alicia Keys said, “Here we are together on music’s biggest night, celebrating the artists that do it best. But to be honest with you, we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now. Because earlier today, Los Angeles, America, and the whole wide world lost a hero. And we’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.” 

She, of course, was referring to the tragic news that former Lakers MVP and 5-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash that also claimed the life of his teenage daughter and seven others. The cap off her words, R’n’B legends Boyz II Men joined Alicia Keys onstage for a sweet performance of “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday.”

The whole evening – setting aside the historic wins and melancholic tributes – was additionally shrouded in complex controversy as former Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan recently spoke out against the Grammys organization. Only a week and a half ago, Dugan – who was new in her role as CEO – filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asserting allegations of both sexual discrimination and vote rigging behind the scenes. Dugan spoke to NPR earlier this week, doubling-down on the accusations, claiming not only that extensive voting had been rigged for prior award ceremonies but that her predecessor had allegations of raping a female artist.

As The Pop Break discussed last year, the Recording Academy instituted a Task Force on Diversity to correct previous issues of excluding women and female artists from major categories. Now, with all this new information coming to light, how are music fans and artists supposed to carry on with this award ceremony every year? Will any changes be made? Will people actually be held responsible? While I do feel that the majority of awards won this year felt very much deserved, I can’t help but hope that the Recording Academy makes drastic changes to their organization before next year’s ceremony. If they want to be relevant, let alone just, they will be quick to jump on the train toward rectification.

For a complete list of winners from the 62nd Grammy Awards, click here.


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