By Vanessa Chen || Staff Writer
Since its live airing on Monday, February 13, the 59th Annual Grammy Awards has been under fire for potential racism. This was incited by Beyoncé’s Lemonade losing the Album of the Year award to Adele’s 25. In her acceptance speech for this top honor Adele said, “I can’t possibly accept this award.” Adele devoted her speech to praising Beyoncé for her unmatched artistry, her adored character, and her album Lemonade that “was so monumental” and crucially empowering to black people everywhere. In a scene not aired on live television, but was photographed and widely reported on, Adele broke her award in half to share with Beyoncé, “the artist of [her] life.”
It was no coincidence that both this year’s Grammys and last year’s Oscars were criticized over race issues. The public suspects that major award shows privilege the achievements of white artists over minority artists, often deeming the subjects and genres that minority artists work with as being less important or artistic. It is a good sign, however, that the public is becoming more politically, culturally, and racially conscious, and is more vocal in discussing such issues through social media.
This year’s Grammys was also politically charged with statements from both the right and the left. In the performance by A Tribe Called Quest, featuring Anderson Paak, Consequence, and Busta Rhymes, Busta Rhymes addressed Donald Trump as “President Agent Orange.” He thanked Trump for his “unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban,” stating “now we come together,” and yelling “resist, resist, resist” at the end of the performance. On the other side, artist Joy Villa wore a blue dress that displayed the president’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Amidst the controversy, perhaps the sweetest moment of the Grammys came when Twenty One Pilots accepted the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their hit song “Stressed Out.” Before they went on stage, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun took off their pants on live TV, and accepted their first ever Grammy win in their underwear. It might seem at first to be a bizarre attention grab attempt, but Tyler told the audience the touching reason behind their actions in his acceptance speech. Tyler recalled that a couple years ago, when he and Josh were still struggling artists, Josh came over to Tyler’s house to watch the Grammys with some of Tyler’s roommates. As they were watching it, they realized that they were all in their underwear. Josh turned to Tyler and said “if we ever win a Grammy, we should receive it just like this.”
Tyler ended the speech with a moving message “So, not only is this amazing, but I want everyone who is watching at home to know that you could be next. So watch out, okay? Because anyone from anywhere can do anything. And this is that.”
This moment perhaps inspired countless young artists sitting in front of their TV, as well as anyone with seemingly impossible hopes and dreams. It also serves to remind us that everyone and anyone has the potential for greatness. The Grammys, with all its faults, is supposed to celebrate human talent and achievement. Many of us sitting in front of the TV may daydream about our own acceptance speeches, but we can also celebrate the everyday beauty in ourselves and the people around us. Although less glamorous, our celebrations can still be equally important and even more personally meaningful.
Sophomore Vanessa Chen is a staff writer. Her email firstname.lastname@example.org.