- The 61st annual Grammy Awards took place on Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
- The biggest award of the night, album of the year, was awarded to Kacey Musgraves when it should have gone to Janelle Monáe.
- Best rock album and best alternative music album were similarly fumbled.
- Ariana Grande’s “God Is a Woman” was snubbed for best pop solo performance and Drake won for the wrong song.
The 61st annual Grammy Awards, which took place on Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, boasted some thrilling and monumental moments: Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” for example, became the first rap song ever to win song of the year; and women dominated the spotlight throughout the show, delivering the evening’s best performances.
But, as is inevitable, the Recording Academy had some missteps. Even with a larger-than-ever pool of nominees for major awards and a refreshingly diverse selection, the Grammys still couldn’t help but fall back into some old patterns.
Here are INSIDER’s picks for the most glaring awards gone awry. (You can see a full list of the winners here.)
Kacey Musgraves should have been the runner-up for album of the year.
Kacey Musgraves had one of the biggest nights for any artist,taking home four Grammys that included album of the year for “Golden Hour.”
There’s no doubt that “Golden Hour” is a radiant project, and the singer’s domination of the country categories is definitely well-deserved. But “Golden Hour” is also soft, nostalgic, and accessible – which, for the Grammys voters, typically registers as the safest choice.
Janelle Monáe’s bizarre, magnetic, and totally unique “Dirty Computer” would have been a more inspired choice for album of the year – especially given its masterful treatment of relevant themes like female empowerment, LGBTQ visibility, and “black girl magic.” Giving Monáe the most prestigious award of the evening would have been a fitting antidote to the current state of the world.
Lady Gaga’s ‘Joanne’ didn’t deserve to win for best pop solo performance.
Lady Gaga had an understandably huge night. Her ubiquitous duet with Bradley Cooper, “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born,” won for best pop duo/group performance, in addition to its expected win for best song written for visual media.
The misfire occurred when Gaga’s underwhelming “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)” was crowned as the best pop solo performance. The lonely single, released retroactively in January 2018, is an acoustic version of the titular track on her 2016 album “Joanne.”
It’s a fine song, but when you consider that it was released in the year of the all-powerful “Shallow,” Gaga’s standard piano ballad is nothing more than a footnote.
The decision makes even less sense when Ariana Grande’s “God Is a Woman” was nominated in the same category. A soaring, grandiose thesis statement for Grande’s entire career, “God Is a Woman” encapsulates how and why Grande is the biggest pop star in the world right now – and it deserved far more than perfunctory acknowledgment.
Greta Van Fleet didn’t have the best rock album.
To be fair, the best rock album category wasn’t exactly bursting with potential this year. None of the nominees are true standouts for the award – but Greta Van Fleet was still a highly frustrating choice.
The band certainly has a loyal following, almost entirely thanks to a naive sense of nostalgia. But Greta Van Fleet’s debut album “From The Fires” is not original, interesting, or remotely award-winning.
Beck should have lost to St. Vincent for best alternative music album.
Beck is undoubtedly a legendary artist with a decades-long track record of genre-bending, unexpected, iconic records. But the Grammys insist on rewarding Beck’s generally average efforts while other inventive, more relevant artists are sidelined (think: his baffling triumph over Beyoncé for album of the year in 2014).
This year, the most notable example is Annie Clark aka St. Vincent, whose surreal album “Masseduction” is universally beloved by critics and fans alike.
Drake deserved his win for best rap song, but it should have been for “Sicko Mode” with Travis Scott instead of “God’s Plan.”
Drake has been nominated for 42 Grammys and only won four – never in a major category – so it makes sense that he would stop by the show just to tell everyone that the Grammys don’t really matter.
But if the Recording Academy is intent upon attempting (and failing) to placate one of the biggest artists in the world, they didn’t need to give “God’s Plan” the win for best rap song; they could have given it to Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” and gotten Drake onstage either way.
“God’s Plan” was a smash hit, but that’s par for the course when it comes to Drake’s discography. “Sicko Mode,” on the other hand, saw Drake deliver some of his most bombastic and exciting bars in years; paired with Scott’s singular production skills (and one of the weirdest structures for a No. 1 song in recent memory), “Sicko Mode” epitomizes hip-hop’s power and influence in the modern musical landscape.
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