Grammy Awards 2018: more diverse than ever?

For the first time, nominations for Album of the Year do not include any white males

Grammy Awards 2018: more diverse than ever?

Despacito breaks the language barrier

The remix of the hit reggeaton song by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, with Canadian Justin Bieber singing a couple of verses in English, but most of the lyrics in Spanish, is nominated for two of the most important categories: Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. Both of these categories are awarded to songs that broke records, but Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriters, while Record of the Year goes to the production team. For the first time in history, a song that is mostly in Spanish is nominated for both of these categories.

For Record of the Year, Fonsi, Yankee, and Bieber will compete against Jay Z, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, and Bruno Mars, all of them big names of the music industry, none of them white. For Song of the Year, the writers of Despacito will face teams who wrote songs like Jay Z’s “4:44”, Julia Michaels’s “Issues”, Alessia Cara’s and Khalid’s “1-800-273-8255”, and Bruno Mars’s “That's What I Like”. Again, the only white male performer in the list is Bieber, who is part of a remix a song that was already a hit by two Latino stars.

Album of the Year: no white males

The nominees for Album of the Year are: "Awaken, My Love!" by Childish Gambino, 4:44 by Jay Z, DAMN., by Kendrick Lamar,  Melodrama by Lorde, and 24K Magic by Bruno Mars. This list of nominees marks the most diverse set in Grammy history. Some have speculated that this has something to do with the switch to online voting, that happened this year for the first time.

As Variety reported, Grammy Senior VP Will Freimuth explained why voting switched from traditional paper ballots to an online system: “More than just convenience, the real benefits of this are being able to get more votes from musicians on tour who have trouble catching up with their paper ballots — and they can [fill out the voting forms] on their phone or pad, not just their desktop. It also increases participation from all voters: The Latin Grammys, our sister organization, implemented this last year and they found that voting participation increased significantly. Also, paper ballots would often be filled out incorrectly — people would vote in categories they weren’t [authorized to vote in] and things like that — and this way the software will not let them submit incorrectly. Finally, on the same site, voters will be able to listen to or watch all of the nominated recordings or videos, or look at the nominees for package design. It makes for more informed voting on the whole, than voting based on name recognition and popularity and charts and things like that”.

Whether it is more informed voting, or simply that minorities are making better music, it is a reality that Grammy voters, who are industry experts, are looking to different genres and different artists to select those who should be awarded with the music industry’s top recognition. Is this another consequence of an interconnected world through the internet?


Latin American Post | Laura Rocha Rueda