Grammys provide stage for music of the pandemic to come to life


Sebastian Mino-Bucheli

Illustration of Cardi B at a performance with the Grammy Award and hands in a power fist. Courtesy of the Recording Academy® / Getty Images © 2020 and a photo by Diana Rubio found on Flickr of Cardi B used for cropping in and drawing reference to have the original photo built upon. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli / Golden Gate Xpress)

Listening to music is always an intimate experience, but music that has been released during the pandemic has been uniquely intimate and virtual. Sunday’s Grammy Awards 2021 celebrated and snubbed the records that will forever be time capsules of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Masked-matched couture outfits, socially-distanced tables and classic Getty Images captured stars carrying their trophy or trophies. Unlike other 2021 awards shows that centered around film and television,  the Grammys were able to dodge a virtual broadcast. 

This worked to the advantage of the telecast because the performances and performers were the show. And overwhelmingly women. During Women’s History Month? Alexa, play Taylor Swift’s “Tis the Damn Season.”

Beyonce’s “Black Parade” won best R&B performance, totalling 27 Grammy wins for Queen Bey, more than any other musician ever regardless of gender or race. Megan Thee Stallion won three awards – notably, Best New Artist, which hasn’t been won by a Black artist since 1999. 

Taylor Swift took home Album of the Year, while it wasn’t her first time winning that category, “Folklore” is the first album that has won and that she has owned

Even without wins, the nominations were historically female. 

Mickey Guyton was the first Black woman to be nominated within the Country category despite Country radio’s efforts to not play her music on-air. All the nominees for Best Rock Performance were women – something that has never happened before. 

Cardi B didn’t even submit “WAP” to be considered this year and has been iconic since the day the music video dropped on YouTube – the Grammy performance was no different. 

These songs would have been toured if we weren’t in a pandemic, so now we get visuals to it besides just music videos, but performances to no audience are still so different.

— Ashar Abdallah

In futuristic rose gold armor and stilettos, Cardi B sashayed across the stage to pole as soft samples slowly faded in. “There’s some whores in this house, there’s some whores in this house,” echoed through the empty halls.

Megan Thee Stallion then appears, to deliver the lyrics that have already been immortalized without skipping a beat. Leading to a finale on a giant bed prop, where they tousled around flipping each other with their legs sexually all while refraining from ever uttering the word “pussy.” 

WAP became a viral Tik Tok dance, the hot topic of media Zooms, and an absolute celebration of women’s sexuality – all completely online. 

“These songs would have been toured if we weren’t in a pandemic, so now we get visuals to it besides just music videos,” SF State sophomore Ashar Abdallah said. “But performances to no audience are still so different.” 

Abdallah live-tweeted the event from her personal Twitter. She is an unapologetic Swiftie, Phoebe Bridgers stan and Hottie (Megan Thee Stallion fan). 

The women behind these nominations, performances and songs provided during the pandemic. 

H.E.R won song of the year for emotional labor, stating she wrote “I Can’t Breathe,” on Facetime and recorded in her mother’s bedroom in a state of fear and anguish and now is a vessel for change, she said. 

Dua Lipa said in her acceptance speech that her album Future Nostalgia’s success taught her that her happiness as a woman can matter in art. 

“I felt really jaded at the end of my last album, like I only had to make sad music for it to matter,” Lipa said.

The Grammys have always been indebted to the performances of the artists – this year crucially. 

The big wins are always reserved to white people. Like how can they give all these awards to Beyonce but, she hasn’t won a big category since 2010?

— Ashar Abdallah

Because where the live performances delivered, the award committee was seen sometimes stumbling over itself. 

“The concerns people have with the Grammys makes a lot of sense to me but, at the same time it’s super fun to see your faves win,” Abdallah said. 

She felt that this year more than ever she was satisfied overall with the awards winners than in previous years but, left puzzled by other choices.

Points of discourse over award snubs include Billie Eilish winning record of the year and The Weeknd’s snub for “After Hours.”

Jeremy O’ Harris, Tony-nominated playwright, took to Twitter to point out the fact that the Grammy’s choice to not pay musical tribute to SOPHIE and Pop Smoke was a “choice.” 

Many point fingers at the award committee for racism and bribery. Among the “robberies,” Abdallah said Beyonce not winning record of the year, winning only two of her four nominations, was the most shocking, but nonetheless, unsurprising.

“The big wins are always reserved to white people,” Abdallah said, “Like how can they give all these awards to Beyonce but, she hasn’t won a big category since 2010? And now they can be like ‘oh Beyonce a Black woman has the most Grammys’ but like y’all don’t even give her the Grammys you actually value.”