The Grammys have faced copious amounts of flack over the years for very questionable award winners and snubs. In the days following nominations and the actual event, we see article after article and tweet after tweet: black rappers being snubbed for white rappers, not enough presence of strong women, LGBT artists being completely ignored as nominees... the list goes on and on. Some of us have lost all hope in the industry. And how can we not? The Grammys continue to give awards to artists who aren't always the top choices of the people. However, the 2016 Grammy nominees do give some hope for the future of the industry. In fact, there are six stand out nominations that should make your heart swell with warmth and optimism for the music world right now.
This time around, the robots or little tree-gnomes or whoever makes up the Academy made a few good choices that can give us hope. The industry hasn't just recognized white, male, heterosexual artists as if they're the only ones making music. Not completely, anyway. In fact, wonderfully, the 2016 Grammy nominations show at least six examples that prove that change is possible, if not imminent, in the industry.
1. To Pimp A Butterfly As Album of the Year
There was no doubt in my mind that this album deserves not only a nomination, but the award for Album of the Year. Despite that, I lived in fear that Kendrick Lamar would get snubbed. It's happened before. His album is racially charged and angry, which tends to put people off, but not this year. Which brings me to my second example:
2. "Alright" As Song of the Year
Thank goodness "Alright" is getting the recognition it deserves. This song has become the anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement, and to disregard it would be a blatant snub of not only the artist, but also the movement. Though a small victory until the song actually takes home the prize, this does admittedly give me hope for an equal America.
3. "Till It Happens To You" As Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media
In the past, the music industry has seemingly glorified rape culture. Robin Thicke crooning "you know you want it" in a song called "Blurred Lines" caught a lot of flack for that, even as it won a bunch of awards and was played on the radio. But this year, Lady Gaga's "Till It Happens to You" made it as a nominee for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media. Gaga co-wrote the song with Diane Warren for The Hunting Ground, a heart-wrenching documentary about sexual assault on college campuses. It is has since been used as a fight song for victims of sexual abuse. This song is ground-breaking, and, if it hadn't been nominated, I would have lost all faith.
4. Three Nominations For "Girl Crush"
People were freaking out over the homosexual overtones of "Girl Crush" this year. The song by country group Little Big Town discusses a woman who has taken another woman's man, a pretty common theme in country music. But wait... there's more! The song goes on to say things like:
"I want to taste her lips, yeah cause they taste like you / I want to drown myself in a bottle of her perfume. I want her long blond hair, I want her magic touch / Yeah cause maybe then, you'd want me just as much ... I got a girl crush."
Ten years ago, there wouldn't even be a country song called "Girl Crush," let alone one nominated for a Grammy. This is a step in the right direction.
5. Courtney Barnett As Best New Artist
Courtney Barnett is the new artist nominee I support. The 28-year-old Australian doesn't fit the typical standards for a woman in the industry: she has messy hair, she dresses in t-shirts and flannels, and her lyrics focus on her anxiety and depression in an incredibly witty way. She's amazingly real, and it was great to see her get a nod this year.
6. Kendrick Lamar & Taylor Swift As Best Pop/Duo Group Performance
I hate to go on endlessly about Kendrick Lamar (who am I kidding? I LOVE to go on endlessly about Kendrick Lamar). But, I gotta say, the nomination of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" featuring Kendrick warms my icy heart. Their appreciation of each other's music, though very different, is already a big step for the music industry. That they are being celebrated for that appreciation with a Grammys nod is icing on the cake.
Overall, Kendrick and T-Swift have taken the most Grammy nominations for 2016. Who would have thought 40 years ago that a black man and a woman would be killing the music industry? Or that any of these other artists and songs would be represented? I'm so proud the music industry is slowly but surely diversifying. Our country is full of all different types of people, and the music we choose to celebrate should be the same.