2020’s Grammy Nominees: Finally Diverse?

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Eugene Hong '20 rarely tunes in to the Grammys, but he strongly supports the diversification in this year’s nominees. “It’s inspiring to see the progress we’re making,” Hong said.

As is the case with most industries, diversification in the world of music comes slowly. In a chilling 2018 interview, former Recording Academy president Neild Portnow told Variety that women needed to “step up” to receive recognition in the Grammys. That year, Alessia Cara was the only woman to be presented with a solo award. Notably, Ed Sheeran won best pop solo performance for “Shape of You,” beating four qualified women. “Instead of #kesha’s song about overcoming sexual abuse, we reward another song by a man about a woman’s body. #GRAMMYs #metoo #timesup,” Twitter user @AnyaSilverPoet fittingly wrote.  

Every year, it seems the selection pool of Grammy nominees are largely white and overwhelmingly male. Year after year, seeing the same group of artists being nominated always leaves me frustrated. But when you do look at who is leading the pack in this year’s nominees, it almost seems as if that age-old trend is starting to crack. 

Leading the charts, Lizzo is nominated for eight Grammys. Beloved by a growing fan base, Lizzo is an unapologetic, plus-sized woman of color who lifts up her listeners, preaching self-confidence and realizing self worth. Feminism and celebrating individuality dominate nearly all of her top tracks, from “Truth Hurts” to “Good as Hell.” As USA Today put it, “Turns out Lizzo is 100% that Grammy nominee.” 

Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X are close behind with six nods each. Eilish has shattered records with her nominations alone, becoming the youngest nominee in Grammy history to have received nods in all four major categories. Lil Nas X is nominated for best pop/duo group performance for his song “Old Town Road,” a collaboration with Billy Ray Cyrus which memorably broke records by topping the charts for nineteen consecutive weeks. 

Yes, you’re reading just fine. Two out of the three artists leading in nominations are female. Two of three are people of color. One is a seventeen-year-old girl who is undeniably unique, one is an unapologetic African-American woman, and another is an openly gay African-American man. Are times finally taking a turn for the better? 

Eugene Hong ’20 seemed to think so. “Seeing such diversity in this year’s nominees is really surprising, but very welcome,” Hong said. “It’s inspiring to see the progress we’re making.” 

But even with the progress, some still claim the Grammy’s has a long road ahead with giving women and people of color the recognition they deserve. Notably, many Taylor Swift fans believe she was snubbed, only receiving three nominations in minor categories for her well-received album, Lover. Normani, despite being on two of this year’s top hits, “Dancing With a Stranger” and “Motivation,” didn’t get a single nod. Halsey, despite receiving her first No. 1 record as a solo artist for her song “Without Me,” didn’t receive any nominations for the song. There is certainly room to grow, but if this years’ nominees are any indication, we’re headed in the right direction.

“Seeing such diversity in this year’s nominees is really surprising, but very welcome,” Hong said. “It’s inspiring to see the progress we’re making,” said Eugene Hong ’20.

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