The 2021 Grammy’s disappoints but doesn’t surprise with exclusive actions


Graphic by Caroline Dinh

Fans of high selling artists like The Weeknd and BTS were shocked to see their favorite artists go home grammy-less.

Emily Pham, News and Social Justice writer

After the highly anticipated 63 Annual Grammy Awards aired on March 14, 2021, prominent artists of color like the Weeknd and BTS are facing a devastating defeat. Fans of these artists from all across the world are speculating whether these losses are derived from a history of racism existent at the show in previous years. 

Even people who don’t actively listen to K-pop have probably heard of BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, a seven-member boy band from Seoul, South Korea. They are well known and highly celebrated, as the boy band was the most mentioned music group on social media in 2020, exceeding famous stars such as Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Drake. 

“Their [BTS’] song ‘Dynamite’ now holds the record for the biggest debut of 2020 and the biggest debut for a group ever on the Global Spotify chart,” sophomore Yasmine Abdelkarim said. “The song that won the Grammy [for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance] instead was ‘Rain on Me’ by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande (two white women) and it only has 295 million views on YouTube compared to Dynamite which has almost 1 billion views.” 

An article by Forbes stated that the Grammys did the “bare minimum” for BTS, their defeat being a “disappointing but predictable” one. 

To make matters worse, after their defeat, a cartoon gained popularity across the internet portraying the seven members of the band being beaten by a Grammy trophy in a painful game of Whac-A-Mole. Quickly after this, Garbage Pail Kids, a company aimed to be a parody of Cabbage Patch kids, took this caricature and made it into stickers to sell. Although the intention of the sticker was meant to be satirical, the cuts, bruises, and fearful expressions present on the band members’ faces say otherwise. With the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes taking over the news and social media, the company was obviously not thinking straight when they decided to start advertising this ridiculous product. The cartoon’s clearly racist message would not have been acceptable no matter the date published but is even more devastating of a blow during this time of increasing prejudice against AAPI. Luckily, the backlash the company received led them to remove the sticker from their site and halt the production of them.

On the other hand, The Weeknd, an Ethiopian R&B/Pop artist, went further to show his dissatisfaction and boycotted the Award Show, and will continue to in the future, after his chart-topping album “After Hours” and the smash-hit song “Blinding Lights” did not receive a single nomination for any category. His album broke the record for the most global pre-adds in history on Apple Music and was his fourth album to reach the number one spot in the US. Taking into account these statistics, along with the 476 million views and counting the Blinding Lights music video has received, the Weeknd was, without question, snubbed of a nomination.

“The Weeknd had one of the most streamed songs of 2020, but they completely ignored him,” junior Sui Sung said. “He could have been nominated for “Blinding Lights” for the best song but he wasn’t. I feel like racism definitely plays a part because in the past, especially in 2019, a white person won the song of the year. And now, only 10 black artists were nominated. I just feel like that’s kind of messed up out of how many white artists there were.” 

Having not awarded a Black artist Album of the Year since 2008, it is not a coincidence that the Grammys’ selection process is once again discriminating against artists of color. 

In addition to the winners from this year’s show being predominantly white, Variety reports that ratings for this year’s Grammys hit an all-time low. And if that doesn’t show how disappointed viewers were, then the 53% decrease in total viewer amount from 2020 to 2021 should. There were a total of 8.8 million viewers this year, compared to 18.7 viewers last year. 

If the last decade of Album of the Year winners being 93% white artists doesn’t show even the slightest bit of racial prejudice the Grammys holds, then this year’s lack of POC recognition should.