Racism in the Grammys


Aanya Bhola

Since its creation, The Grammys have been known for being biased.

They’ve long since skewed towards white males, ignoring artists of color enough that many prominent artists, including Nicky Minaj, Macklemore, and The Weeknd, have called them out on it numerous times.

In the past, less than a fifth of the Album of the Year awards have ever gone to African-Americans, and the category of rap, a predominantly black-dominated genre, was only added in 1988 - nine years after rap reached the Top 40.

Despite its past, hopes for the Grammy Nominations were high this year. With phrases like “diversity of race, gender, age, region, and musical genre” thrown around in the opening speeches, people were expectant of diverse, inclusive nominations. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the Grammys did not live up to its expectations.

The Korean boyband BTS (방탄소년단) got their first nomination this year for their song “Dynamite” in The Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, alongside well-established western stars like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.

On the surface, it looks as though the Grammys are being more inclusive. However, an important note; Dynamite, up to date, is the group’s first song entirely in English. In the past, BTS has topped billboard charts, sold-out London’s Wembley Stadium of 90,000, destroyed the record (with themselves as the previous holders) of the YouTube video with the most views in 24 hours - all while singing in Korean.

Despite all of their achievements with Korean songs, Dynamite has been treated differently by the American Music Industry, through Radio Play, publicity, etc.. Fans are pleased that BTS’s songs are receiving the recognition they deserve, but it’s intriguing to many that the only English song to date by BTS is the song with a Grammy nomination.

Until now, the only non-English song that has won a Grammy has been Volare, by Italian singer-songwriter Domenico Modugno. We can only hope that in the future, the Grammys will be more diverse and inclusive in their nominations and realize that music has no boundaries of race, gender, or language.

Furthermore, the Grammys also snubbed Black Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer The Weeknd. His hit song “Blinding lights” broke multiple records, including the longest #1 on Billboard’s Radio Songs airplay chart, a total of 19 weeks.

Despite being “the biggest chart hit of the year,” Blinding Lights didn’t receive a Grammy Nomination, even though it was eligible for all four marquee categories (Song, Album, and Record of the year, as well as Best New Artist).

Later on, The Weeknd tweeted a direct message to the Grammys, calling them out on their bias and asking for transparency for artists of color.

We can only agree with The Weeknd and other artists of colour that have spoken out against the American Music Industry’s discrimination and continue to advocate for equality in all aspects.