Opinion: Let’s talk Grammys


Alberto E. Rodriguez

Jazz singer Samara Joy celebrates her first Grammy wins, including the award for Best New Artist (Photo: CNN)

Nolan Shen, Staff Writer

On Feb. 5, the 65th Annual Grammy Awards were held in Los Angeles. The awards brought a night of snubs, surprises, and angry Twitter users. Here are my takeaways from the music industry’s biggest night of the year. 

Album of the Year

This may be the most controversial moment of the night. Going into this part of the show, everything was looking great for Beyonce. She had already broken the records for most Grammy nominations and wins of all time. She had also won 4 awards that night. Many were shocked when Harry Styles’ “Harry’s House” was announced as the winner. Twitter went into a firestorm, and #Scammys trended for the rest of the night.

I simply don’t see the outrage. Beyonce put out a great album, and I think it got well-deserved recognition in the Dance/Electronic and R&B categories. However, you can’t deny the impact Harry’s House had. In the past year, I haven’t been able to turn on the radio without hearing As It Was. The album sparked 3 top 10 hits on Billboard. Harry’s House took the world by storm, and it absolutely deserves the award. Not only was it super successful, it was a great album.

My gripe with Styles winning comes from his acceptance speech. After receiving the award, he said “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often.” He doesn’t explain any more, but we all heard it the same. Harry Styles is a rich white guy. People like him win awards all the time. Harry Styles is not a victim. This was incredibly tone-deaf of him, especially when his competition included a great group of artists from some really diverse backgrounds. 

Song of the Year

This one took the world by surprise. The category included TikTok hits from Lizzo and Steve Lacy, critic favorites like Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift, and some rather interesting choices (DJ Khaled and GAYLE made zero sense to me). However, Bonnie Raitt came out victorious with “Just Like That”. 

Like most, I had never heard the song until it won the award. But after a few listens, it is clear why it won. The song, which features just Raitt and an acoustic guitar, feels so personal, something that needs to be felt in the Song of the Year. I also appreciate how Raitt is the only writer credited on the song. The award is meant to honor the best-written song of the year. Too often, the winning song is filled with a massive team of songwriters. With that many cooks in the kitchen, the song feels like the result of a factory product rather than an artistic work. On the other hand, with only Raitt writing, the song she sings is truly hers. It represents her artistic vision, not anyone else’s.

While I would have been happy with a bigger-name artist like Adele, Kendrick, or Beyonce winning, I think Raitt absolutely deserves this award.

Best New Artist

This category was wide open going into the big night. Last year, breakout star Olivia Rodrigo was the standout who took home the award, to no one’s surprise. This year had a refreshing group of young and under-the-radar artists. I was excited to see the likes of Omar Apollo and Wet Leg among the nominees. These artists brought incredibly refreshing stuff to the music industry this year. 

What stands out with this award is the winner, Samara Joy. Joy is the first Jazz artist to win a general field award in over a decade. Too many times, people see Jazz as a genre defined by the 20th century. While Jazz was way more popular in the 1940’s and 50’s than it is now, the genre is very much alive today, and Joy is proof.

Joy has an incredibly rich voice that just feels nostalgic. It reminds you of the all-time greats like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Her win is a victory for jazz as a whole, a reminder to the world that jazz is still alive and thriving.

All in all, I think this year’s Grammys, even if not perfect, are a step in the right direction, and highlight the best of the best in the music industry.