The Grammys happened today, and we have opinions. The Preen Team is generally a mouthy group, but what went down earlier is making us want to run our mouths more than usual. BTS didn’t win! Neither did Phoebe Bridgers!
We have a lot of feelings, so we decided to process these emotions the only way we know how: by talking about it and turning it into content! You’re welcome.
Zofiya Acosta, associate editor: Let’s start off this convo with something dear to your heart, Amrie. BTS was robbed!
Amrie Cruz, junior content creator: Yes and when I say I was crushed, I felt like I was put under one of those hydraulic presses. To add insult to injury, my other bets also didn’t get awards. While I was still sleeping, BTS were awake and had their makeup done in ass o’ clock. And for what? Nada. They prepared a performance (one of the last ones aired on the show) that wasn’t given one of those video introductions afforded to other artists. We all really thought that they’d win the award considering how CBS and the Recording Academy kept mentioning that they’ll be on the show. It felt to me, as a fan, like the award was dangled in front of us so the Grammys could get their ratings up.
Zofiya: What’s upsetting to me about it is that they never should’ve been relegated to a preshow category anyway. BTS deserved a nom for the main show at least. When I first heard what they were nominated for, this was what I thought was happening: The academy knew that they should give BTS an award but they weren’t willing to give them a major win (cowards!), which is why they gave them the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance nomination instead. That way, when the boys win, they could say they gave BTS their due without actually giving them much.
So I thought them winning was a sure thing. I didn’t even check the results of the preshow because I was so sure. When you told me earlier that they lost, I was stunned. And I’m not even a stan! At least, not as much as you are.
Amrie: I saw a fellow ARMY on the timeline who was talking about how it was an odd selection of co-nominees for BTS to be up against. I admit that I fully enjoyed the “Rain On Me” performance during the MTV VMAs. But it stings that BTS performed “Dynamite” so many times and each time they tried to spice it up for their fans. So many Western shows were able to capitalize on BTS’ popularity but the group still wasn’t provided respectful and due recognition. Will Western media and so-called music critics only mention BTS when it benefits them? I might be crossing a line in saying this but they’re treating BTS like (not-so-)glorified mascots.
this rooftop dance? easily the best performance of the show. the #recordingacademy talked a big talk about being more inclusive and diverse, but not giving BTS their due while *also* making them the last act for the main show is not a good look #GRAMMYspic.twitter.com/nW5spX4zfa
I have to say though, when it comes to Phoebe Bridgers, it played out how I thought it was going to play out. I knew the alt categories were going to be a battle between her and Fiona Apple (sorry, Beck, Tame Impala et al, I loved you in 2010), and Best New Artist was going to either her, Doja Cat or Megan Thee Stallion. I think this is one of those moments where I would’ve been equally as disappointed if the other nominee was edged out (Megan deserves all her wins 100 percent), but it’s just especially sad because she got three noms for dust.
But sorry Amrie, as much as I like the sisters, I’ve loved Thundercat since he released “Them Changes” as part of the “The Beyond” EP and I’m kinda going feral over him and Flying Lotus getting Grammy nods this year.
Amrie: Yes. All valid. Still, I can’t help but feel frustrated that so many young artists who are either POC or LGBTQIA+ didn’t get to win. If the Recording Academy is really keen on making changes for diversity, equity and inclusion (which they kept mentioning throughout the show), then perhaps they should shake up their voting members roster. Their identities are undisclosed but if they do end up being mostly old, Caucasian men, then what is the point of all this talk? Did you see Zayn’s tweet this morning?
Zofiya: Oooh, no!
.@recordingacad are moving in inches and we need to move in miles. I’m keeping the pressure on & fighting for transparency & inclusion. We need to make sure we are honoring and celebrating “creative excellence” of ALL. End the secret committees. Until then … #fuckthegrammys
Amrie: He said in part, “@recordingacad are moving in inches and we need to move in miles.” It’s a shame that artists like The Weeknd have already vowed to boycott because of this slow pace towards genuine change. Forbes wrote in a 2020 article, “But as BTS continue smashing records and the Grammys continue to lose relevance, who really needs who?” Considering the ratings, maybe big award shows are already at the brink of irrelevance, but I know that the recognition is valued by these artists. It breaks my heart that BTS’ Suga said in a Weverse post earlier today, “Let’s work harder this year.” But it’s not about who works the hardest. We know that historically, POC and LGBTQIA+ artists have to work thrice as hard to be recognized as equals to their contemporaries—not that I believe BTS has any definite contemporaries at the moment.
Zofiya: Wow, Zayn, those were points™️
The Grammys has been slipping in relevancy each year, and you definitely felt it in quarantine. If I didn’t see BTS (and later, Swiftie) Twitter firing up about the show, I would’ve completely forgot that it was happening.
Amrie: Same. I shouldn’t be this pressed over a show that I didn’t even watch in full but I am. Why does it have so much power over me today? Pain.
Zofiya: I know! At this point, it’s just getting a little sad that this show that doesn’t mean anything and hasn’t meant anything in so long has so much hold over these artists.
I just want to point out this tweet too. There weren’t any Sophie, MF Doom or Pop Smoke tributes this year? What? MF Doom, your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper? Sophie, the visionary who basically invented hyperpop with AG Cook? Nothing? That’s… not great.
Amrie: Okay, now that we’ve talked about the things that let us down, let’s talk about highlights. What are your thoughts on Taylor’s stages? I mean, performances.
Zofiya: Your K-pop stan is showing, haha. I think everyone and their grandma knows how much I love Taylor by now, so it comes as a surprise to absolutely no one that I loved her medley. What I really liked about it was that it was as ethereal and magical as “Folklore” and “Evermore” was. I wasn’t sure how this era was going to translate on stage come touring season, but now I’m really hyped. That said, I was kind of surprised she chose to do “August” and “Willow.” Nothing against those tracks, but I thought that some of the other songs on the albums were more Grammy-medley-friendly.
Other good stuff: I’m really glad Nigerian-based artist Burna Boy won a Grammy this year! While I’ve never liked the designation for “Global Music” (evergreen question: WTF does that mean?), hearing Burna speak in Yoruba during his acceptance speech meant a lot as well as him saying, “This is a big win for my generation of Africans all over the world.”
Amrie: Yes and yes! Apart from Taylor’s performance, I also had a lot of fun watching Silver Sonic’s “Leave The Door Open” as well as Megan and Cardi’s wild and playful “WAP.” Dua Lipa in sparkly pink was another serve. But perhaps the most memorable for me was Lil Baby’s “Bigger Picture” performance that included a speech from activist Tamika Mallory directed at President Biden.
Mallory said, “It’s a state of emergency. It’s been a hell of a year. Hell for over 400 years. My people, it’s time we stand. It’s time we demand the freedom that this land promises. President Biden, we demand justice, equity, policy and everything else that freedom encompasses, and to accomplish this, we don’t need allies. We need accomplices. It’s bigger than black and white. This is not a trend, this is our plight. Until freedom.” Chills.
Zofiya: I’m really impressed by Lil Baby’s growth, tbh! Did you know that he was legitimately active during the BLM protests? Like, activists were saying he wasn’t making a big show of himself being a rapper or anything, he just wanted to help out. That’s the kind of energy that we should expect from our favorite artists.
Amrie: Agreed. I hope that all the winners will actively use their platforms as he did and call out the industry and other institutions. I was honestly hoping for more messages of solidarity during the show. I understand wanting to continue being on good terms with the Recording Academy but in 2021, a lot of us fans have higher hopes. It’s a new decade. Transformative change isn’t a smooth ride, but we need it to progress.