Scribbled in history books for its fair share of good and awesomely bad reasons, 2017 brought with it some of modern music’s most memorable moments. Now, as the year draws to a close, TGJ is reflecting on our favorite happenings that rocked – and to some degree reshaped – the Urban and Pop musical landscape as we know it.
Next up we reflect on the Grammy upsets that rocked the fan bases of Urban music’s leading ladies: Beyonce & Rihanna:
Racial diversity at award shows has become almost as much of a hot topic in recent years as the nominees. And, after watching the Oscars experience a backlash with #OscarsSoWhite in 2015 & 2016 for nominating no actors of color in major categories (click here to read more), the Recording Academy opted to place the artistic efforts of Urban acts – especially those of color – at the forefront of its nomination tally.
With Beyonce’s critically acclaimed ‘Lemonade’ leading with a whopping 9 nods, she was followed by Drake, Kanye West, and Rihanna (8 respectively), and Chance the Rapper with 7, fans – especially those of Urban music’s leading ladies – were sure they were in for a sweep. Bey, many assumed, would finally get her hands on that coveted Album of the Year Grammy while Rih – many also assumed – would finally be celebrated for her most artistically daring and mature work to date.
Both were wrong.
Despite entering the night with the most nominations, early losses almost made it clear the Queen Bey was in for an upset. Ultimately leaving with two wins on the night, Best Music Video for “Formation” and Best Urban Contemporary Album for “Lemonade,” her main competition – Adele – who (in historic fashion) won every award she was nominated for (including ‘Album of the Year’), even questioned how it was possible.
Start at 1:49
Elsewhere, Rihanna fans – affectionately called #TheNavy – were fuming when the ‘Work’ wailer walked away with 0 of the 8 awards she was up for. Working her way into history books in the process, she – alongside her ‘Famous’ collaborator Kanye West – now stand as owners of the titles “most nominated male & female with no wins in a single night.” [click here to read more about that]
The shutouts led to fierce debates, criticism, and analysis on a number of online forums and platforms where many questioned if the diverse nomination list leading into the ceremony was simply a guise to attract viewership from minorities. The flames got so hot the Recording Academy president, Neil Potnow, clapped back stating:
“It’s more about personal taste, so it’s hard for me to criticize when we see no basis that [the results] are about anything other than music, and certainly not race. That’s how democracy works.”
“[Some of] the comments I’ve seen come from not understanding at all how this works,” says Portnow. “It’s one thing to be a critic, and another to join and vote and be part of the change that you want to see.” [click here to read his full statement]
As revealed here, 2018’s Grammy nomination tally – like this year’s – is led primarily by acts of color. Only time will tell if the results will mirror those of 2017.