Since this is a music column, I feel it’s essential to address what happened at the 2016 Grammy Awards on Monday.
I’ll be honest and say I didn’t watch the full show; on Tuesday morning, I read online about which performances got the most buzz, watched clips of said performances, and looked at the list of winners. That’s the best way to pay attention to these awards, I think, since so much of the three-and-a-half-hour slog of a show is dedicated to poorly constructed duets and lengthy acceptance speeches.
Sadly, what I really wanted to happen last night did not happen. What I hoped was for Kendrick Lamar’s brilliant “To Pimp A Butterfly” to become the third-ever hip hop album to win Album of the Year. And I was hardly alone in this; the majority of the biggest music publications in the U.S. named it their number one favorite of 2015.
Disappointed as I was, it didn’t surprise me much when the award went to Taylor Swift for “1989.” Swift is an undeniably talented singer and songwriter, and her album has a mainstream appeal that “TPAB” simply does not.
“1989” a catchy pop album, but I never found anything particularly interesting or new about it, besides the fact that it strays so much from Swift’s previous material.
In contrast, “TPAB” shows Lamar at his most ambitious and creative yet—which says a lot, considering he’s also the brain behind 2012’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city.” It’s an album that’s not always easy to listen to, but that addresses so many issues—police brutality, poverty, and the dangerous things money can do to a person—that are increasingly relevant and important for our society to pay attention to.
All of that said, I’m not completely bummed out that Lamar didn’t win. I have nothing against Swift, and Lamar did receive multiple other awards that night that he so obviously deserved. But years down the road, it won’t matter who won which awards, and I think “TPAB” is the album that will stand the test of time.