Before reading the article:
Did you watch the Grammy Awards on Sunday evening? If so, what did you think about the winners, the nominees, the red carpet looks, performances, Michelle Obama’s surprise appearance and everything else?
Now, read the article “Can the Grammys Please Anyone?” and answer the following questions:
1. Why, according to the article, do the Grammys “still walk a tightrope?”
2. Who is Neil Portnow? What did he say a year ago about what he felt women in music needed to do? What did he say about the issue in an interview last week?
3. What changes were made to the Grammy Awards since last year? What are the reasons for the changes?
4. Who are the artists who were invited to perform at the ceremony and declined?
5. How many producers and engineers were credited on the eight songs that were nominated for record of the year? How many of them are female?
Finally, tell us more about what you think:
In the related article “For Innovation at the Grammys, Look at the Best Music Video Category,” Jon Caramanica writes:
In the Grammy context, the music video category — No. 83 out of 84 on the official list — is generally an afterthought. It was instituted in 1984, the same year MTV inaugurated its Video Music Awards, just as the medium was becoming central to star-making. At this moment — when artists are as likely to develop their audiences on YouTube as on any audio-only platform, and in which expertise in self-presentation and self-promotion is mandatory — the category feels essential. The nominations recognize clips that shaped conversation as much as the songs they illustrate. Some of these videos are wholesale pieces of art in which the visuals and music are fundamentally inseparable; sometimes the importance of the video itself trumps that of the song.
…. Inventive videos have won in this category before: Janet and Michael Jackson’s “Scream” in 1996, Missy Elliott’s “Lose Control” in 2006, and “Formation.” But more frequently it has gone to the just-fine-enough (or just-expensive-enough) video for an otherwise very popular song, or to an artist so famous (say, the Beatles, in 1997) that Grammy voters tick their box reflexively.
But moving forward, this category should be seen as an opportunity to embrace a whole new breed of musician, one who reflects what has long been true but rarely acknowledged at the Grammys: that the job of a recording artist has changed, and that those now making the most vivid impact are as careful about how they look as how they sound.
Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” won best music video, along with song of the year, best rap/sung performance, and record of the year. Do you think his receiving these awards is a step in the direction Mr. Caramanica outlines? Why or why not?
Of what significance was this multiple award winner’s absence from the award ceremony? Explain.