The ceremony of awarding the Grammys is among the most-watched events in the U.S. On 26 January, the 62nd Grammy Awards ceremony took place in Los Angeles. However, it was overshadowed by the recent dismissal of Deborah Dugan and Kobe Bryant’s death. This paper will provide details of these unpleasant circumstances and explore some controversies surrounding the show, the viewership number, and marketed brands.
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Before the Grammy Awards ceremony, the public was stunned by the exit of Deborah Dugan. She was the President and CEO of the Recording Academy, the organization that hosted the show. The reason for Dugan’s dismissal was her allegations concerning corrupt processes within the organization (Barlow). She alleged that she was sexually harassed in the workplace, and the overall climate in the organization was sexist toward women (Barlow).
Dugan also stated that the voting process in the Grammy Awards was unjust since the jury predefined the winners and promoted new artists at their discretion (Barlow). As a result, the organization lost one of its sponsors (Barlow). Perhaps, the situation would have had a larger influence on the ceremony if it had not been for the death of Kobe Bryant, a basketball legend who died on the day of the show. Alicia Keys, the host of the 2020 Grammys, paid tribute to him and did not mention the incident with Dugan explicitly.
I do not agree with Dugan’s messaging strategy because she seems to be too harsh in her allegations and fails to provide any evidence. At the same time, I admire the way Alicia Keys addressed this situation at the ceremony. She said, “It’s a new decade. It’s time for newness, and we refuse the negative energy. We refuse the old systems. Feel me on that.” (qtd. in Barlow, par. 23). Under the “negative energy” and “old systems,” she certainly meant Dugan, but she managed to mention this incident in a way that did not stoke the conflict.
Big Award Winners
Due to Dugan’s allegations as to the questionable voting procedure, it was difficult to make predictions about potential Grammy winners. However, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and Lil Nas X were considered the most probable winners. The prediction appeared to be right since Billie Eilish won all four big awards in the general field, including the best new artist, record, song, and album of the year. She also won the prize for the best pop vocal album, while Lizzo became a winner in the best pop solo performance category. Tanya Tucker was awarded for the best country song and album. In the rap category, 21 Savage and J. Cole won the prize for the best rap song.
Controversies Surrounding Awards Shows
Large public events, especially those that happen regularly, rarely go without controversies. One of the most outstanding scandals in the music field is the one between Kanye West and Taylor Swift. It began at the 2009 MTV VMAs when Taylor Swift was awarded for the best female video (BBC). While she was thanking for the prize, Kanye West seized her microphone and said that Beyoncé’s video was better (BBC). Although he apologized later, the conflict continued as Taylor and Kanye insulted each other in their songs (BBC). A similar scandal happened in 1998 when Ol’ Dirty Bastard climbed up the stage just after Shawn Colvin was announced the winner.
The 59th Grammy Awards is famous for the controversy involving Adele and Beyoncé. The public expected Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade, to win the award, but the prize went to Adele (Coaxum). People believe that it happened due to racism; furthermore, Beyonce’s album was considered too political and truthful, which was uncharacteristic of popular songs (Coaxum). Thus, large music contests can be concerned with more serious issues than just music.
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Critique of the Grammy Awards
The Grammy Awards ceremony has both positive and negative sides. Initially, the purpose of this show is to familiarize viewers with a variety of existing music (Pareles). Previously, the ceremony was criticized for awarding too few women (Pareles). The situation seems to have changed, and the number of nominees was expanded from five to eight to ensure greater diversity (Pareles). The author of the article argues that every time, the winner is the singer with the oldest songs, which makes the contest somewhat past-oriented (Pareles). However, the show has some positive features; it helps musicians in non-popular categories to maintain their careers (Pareles).
Nowadays, when music is highly available via the Internet, the Grammy Awards are an anticipated ceremony since they provide people with memorable events in the music field (Pareles). Probably, the public interest in the Grammys is not going to fade.
Viewership Number and Marketed Brands
This year, the number of viewers of Grammys appeared to decrease. The audience was 18.7 million people, which is the lowest number since 2008 when there were 17.18 million viewers (Morrow). Last year, the audience was 19.9 million people, so the decrease is significant (Morrow). Perhaps, advertisers hoped for the increase in the number of viewers because CBS aired 22 promo spots last year and 35 promo spots this year (Friedman). The marketed brands included McDonald’s, Pepsi, Warner Bros., Mastercard, Motorola, Apple iPhone, and others (Friedman). Since the show attracts mostly youth, the advertisements were targeted at young and middle-aged people.
In conclusion, the Grammy Awards ceremonies are long-awaited events that make people familiar with various kinds of modern music. They sometimes involve controversies, such as the one between Adele and Beyoncé or the recent dismissal of Dugan, which make the shows even more memorable. Due to a large audience, the Grammy Awards ceremonies are attractive for advertisers who market their products during the breaks in broadcasting.
Barlow, Eve. “All Hell Has Broken Loose Within the Grammys.” Vulture. 2020. Web.
Coaxum, Jaylen. “Adele’s Grammy Win over Beyoncé Sparks Controversy.” The Willistonian. 2017. Web.
Friedman, Wayne. “CBS’ ‘Grammy’ TV Viewing Down 6%, National Ad TV Revenues Up.” MediaPost. 2020. Web.
BBC. “Taylor Swift v Kanye West: A History of Their On-Off Feud.” BBC News. 2018. Web.
Morrow, Brendan. “The 2020 Grammys Drew the Show’s Smallest Audience in More Than a Decade.” The Week. 2020. Web.
Pareles, Jon. “Music Lives in the Present. Can the Grammys Escape the Past?” The New York Times. 2019. Web.