The Twitter-verse has not been kind to the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards after Billie Eilish became the second person in history to sweep the four major awards of the night. The term “Scammys” has been coined in response to some questionable decisions made by the Recording Academy, as Ariana Grande and Lana Del Rey, two of the most influential artists of 2019, came home empty-handed.
Eilish should not be discredited after taking home five awards, including Best New Artist at the young age of 18. Her album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” won Album of the Year, and was a groundbreaking artistic piece that discussed a variety of topics ranging from mental health to climate change. Yet, to ignore Ariana Grande’s fifth studio album “Thank U, Next” seemed like an oversight on the Academy’s part. It was an album that defined pop music in 2019, an album clearly filled with emotion as Grande mourned the loss of her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller, and her split with Pete Davidson. This was a career-defining album for Grande, whereas Eilish has much more growth ahead: her career is just beginning. This is not an attack of Eilish as an artist but rather of the institution responsible for these decisions. Even Eilish acknowledged Grande in her acceptance speech, “Can I just say that I think Ariana deserves this?”
In addition to her Album of the Year win, Billie Eilish’s song “Bad Guy,” won Song of the Year, which was met with more mixed responses. It also took home the Record of the Year award, which acknowledges the performing artist, producers and sound engineers responsible for the track. The Song of the Year award focuses more on the lyrical depth of the track, recognizing the artist and songwriters. While artistically well-done and a generation-defining piece, “Bad Guy” was in no way lyrically superior to any other nominations, especially Lana Del Rey’s track “Norman F---ing Rockwell.” While Del Rey may not be a universal fan-favorite, rewarding Eilish’s song for lyrical poetics was not the right call on the Academy’s part. In a time of such tension, it almost seemed that “Bad Guy” was awarded for being an uplifting and catchy dance song, rather than Del Rey’s which featured heavy and meaningful lyrics.
“Norman F---ing Rockwell” truly encapsulated Del Rey as an artist and was a staple track in one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2019. Del Rey has only six Grammy nominations (never winning one) in her career, despite being one of the most critically acclaimed artists. In contrast to Grande, Del Ray was never acknowledged during the ceremony even though this record is one of her strongest to date. The lyrical gravity of her song deserved recognition, and the Recording Academy giving “Bad Guy” the award felt like more of a popularity contest, not a grant of musical integrity.
The Grammys will never be just a celebration of the music industry when the institution behind it continues to make questionable decisions, time and time again. At least for 2020, the “Scammys” left a lot to be desired.