Are the Grammys Better Than the Oscars Now?


If the queasy feeling of will they lastly get this proper anxiousness that lodged within the pit of your abdomen late in final evening's (Feb. 24) Academy Awards ceremonies felt acquainted, it's in all probability as a result of it was solely two weeks earlier that the identical feeling manifested in most of us on the climax of the Grammys.

For seemingly so long as both awards ceremony has existed, the most important voting our bodies of every have come below hearth for being misguided, out of contact, or simply lazy — as films and albums that went for easy thrills and comforting pleasures have repeatedly received out over extra revolutionary, farther-reaching and/or extra pressing fare. Issues of illustration have additionally plagued each establishments, encompassing gender, race, sexuality and style, resulting in protests, boycotts and basic disregard. At a time when mistrust of longtime American cultural instituations seems to be at an all-time excessive — whereas TV rankings are at an all-time low — it was extra essential than ever for each award exhibits to reveal progress, whereas avoiding a few of the extra embarrassing pratfalls of latest years, each onstage and behind it. 

And for probably the most half, certainly one of them succeeded. This yr's Grammys had been certainly not an ideal ceremony, as too many winners had been ushered off in the midst of their acceptance speeches, minor classes ceaselessly went to the most important identify no matter worthiness, and hip-hop was once more underrepresented on the entire. But in its main classes, the winners had been fashionable, related, and largely deserving. Best new artist recipient Dua Lipa was legitimately one of many yr's most profitable and promising new abilities. Song and file of the yr winner "This Is America" by Childish Gambino was 2018's most explosive and debated single, a legitmately impactful hit, and the first-ever hip-hop winner in both class. And album of the yr winner Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves was very arguably the yr's most unanimously acclaimed LP, whereas additionally carrying the load of the dialogue of the miserable invisibility of feminine artists in mainstream nation music. Female artists had received, hip-hop had received — for the primary time in a very long time, the prevailing feeling of the Grammys this yr was certainly one of optimistic change. 

On the opposite hand, final evening's Oscars had been extra of a blended bag, to say the least. There had been deserving, thrilling winners: Alfonso Cuarón took house finest director for Roma, a personally felt, expansively filmed story that highlighted the lives of indigenous Mexican employees. Oli Colman and Regina King received finest actress and finest supporting actress for The Favourite and If Beale Street Could Talk, respectively, two weak performances in risk-taking films from underrecognized veteran actors. And in fact, after effectively over three many years of filmmaking, longtime Hollywood provocateur Spike Lee lastly took house his first-ever aggressive Academy Award, along with his significantly well timed BlacKkKlansman securing finest tailored screenplay. There had been encouraging wins within the less-heralded classes, too — corresponding to Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler turning into the primary black girls to take house Oscars for a non-acting class since 1984 with their wins for Black Panther in finest costume design and finest manufacturing design, respectively — and the telecast typically drew positive reviews for the brisk-moving, hostless ceremonies, in addition to fantastic performances of (most of) the very best tune nominees, significantly Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's electrical duet of "Shallow" from A Star Is Born

However for a lot of, these positives had been possible overshadowed by the 2 films that emerged as arguably the night's greatest winners, regardless of being rooted in problematic considerations. Both Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody might lay claims to themes of progressiveness by their respective historic portrayals of fraught race relations within the deep south within the 1960s piano nice Don Shirley, and of queerness and the AIDS disaster manifesting within the coronary heart of the hetronormative rock world within the '70s and '80s legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. But each films proved clumsy with their dealing with of such points: Green Book by framing the struggles of the black Shirley by the more-familiar perspective of his white chauffeur Tony Vallelonga, and Bohemian Rhapsody by each sanitizing Mercury's story and sexuality with its PG-13, rest-of-his-band-approved script, and by inaccurately presenting him initially as a closeted homosexual man struggling to feign heterosexuality, somewhat than the bisexual man merely wanting to interrupt free that he's been traditionally confirmed as. 

And in fact, the controversies with the 2 movies hardly ended with their on-screen content material. Green Book has been closely criticized by the surviving members of Shirley's household, who took concern each with its portrayal of the musician and of his relationship with Vallelonga, which they characterize extra as certainly one of skilled necessity than the deep private friendship developed within the movie. (What's extra, Green Book co-writer Nick Vallelonga — Tony's son — has admitted that he was unaware any such surviving relations even existed when creating the movie.) More distressingly, Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer — who was kicked off the film for skilled causes earlier than it had completed filming — has received heightened focus for allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, a number of of which have roots courting again to earlier than Rhapsody's inception, resulting in questions as to why the film was ever made with him within the first place. 

Yet regardless of these myriad on- and off-screen black clouds hanging over the 2 films, their Oscar fortunes appeared unaffected. Bohemian Rhapsody received a 2019-best 4 Academy Awards — finest sound modifying, finest sound mixing, finest modifying and finest actor (for Rami Malek's portrayal of Mercury), whereas Green Book received three — finest authentic screenplay, finest supporting actor (for Mahershala Ali's portrayal of Shirley) and the evening's high prize, finest image. Making issues worse, not one of the Bohemian Rhapsody winners addressed any facet of the Singer controversy, whereas the one Green Book winner to thank or particularly point out Shirley was Ali. While the nervousness surrounding the Grammys this yr largely led to a sigh of aid, the Oscars' denouement confirmed that anybody wishing for change — as doubtlessly represented from any variety of this yr's finest image hopefuls, together with Roma, BlacKkKlansman and Black Panther — had motive to nonetheless be involved.

In phrases of general status, the Oscars have historically been held in greater regard than the Grammys: They've been round longer, are extra restricted in class and subsequently extra unique in complete nominees and winners, and have the final benefit of rewarding films somewhat than pop songs or albums, which nonetheless wrestle in lots of quarters to be taken severely as excessive artwork. The end result of a months-long award season, the Academy Awards towers over the remainder of the movie business calendar, whereas prognostication and betting main as much as the awards virtually a sport into itself at this level. Though the Grammys are pretty billed as Music's Biggest Night, the tradition surrounding it’s comparatively insular by comparability, and the awards are themselves considered as secondary to the evening's performances by many anyway. 

However, it'd be inaccurate to say the Oscars have that sizable a credibility benefit over the Grammys, significantly lately: Compare 21st century best picture winners to album of the year winners on a year-to-year foundation and each have their fair proportion of hits and misses — an Argo for each Moonlight, a Babel for each 21. But the Grammys stay marked by situations of comparatively unassuming albums seeming to come back utterly out of nowhere to beat vital heavy-hitters — assume evenly acclaimed however commercially marginal works like Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters and Beck's Morning Light triumphing over beloved blockbusters like Amy Winehouse's Back to Black and Beyoncé's Lemonade. By comparability, the Oscars' extra controversial latest winners — Crash over Brokeback MountainThe King's Speech over The Social Network — are slightly extra simply defined by Oscars historical past because the acquainted profitable out over the brand new, and possibly rather less shocking on the finish of an extended movie awards season anyway. (The music awards season is far more disconnected and unfold out over the calendar yr, and thus considerably extra unpredictable.) 

But following a yr like this, that would all be topic to alter. While the Grammys nonetheless have a number of work to do, and one yr isn't a big sufficient pattern to make sure they're on their option to doing it, they at the least seem headed in the precise route — not simply with their encouraging spate of 2019 winners, however within the replenished voting physique and newly fashioned variety activity power that helped make it potential, in addition to the brand new management on its approach with longtime Recording Academy president Neil Portnow stepping down after this yr's awards. The Oscars, alternatively, appear to be backsliding into outdated norms: Moonlight's finest image win two years in the past appeared to be an enormous victory for the difficult and the underrepresented on the awards, however the large evening for Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody this yr threatens to undo that, re-establishing the corner-cutting, back-patting biopic as the best path to Academy gold. If each establishments contineue observe alongside these paths, it won’t be lengthy till a Grammy is thought of leisure's most prestigious trophy, and the point out of an Oscar is extra prone to induce eye-rolls and sarcastic chuckles. 

It's price persevering with to combat for progress at these award exhibits, as a result of they do have a cultural impression that also issues. Following the Grammys, Musgraves' "Rainbow" — her new Golden Hour single, which she carried out on the ceremonies — spiked on the Country Airplay chart, leaping from No. 58 to No. 40 final week, already making it her greatest hit on the chart in a half-decade. (It continues to climb this week, as much as No. 38.) At a time when not simply Musgraves, however seemingly all feminine artists within the style, are unfairly struggling to make an impression on the airwaves, her large evening on the Grammys established her as a power too large to be ignored, even by nation radio. If a boundary-pushing film like RomaThe Favourite and even Black Panther had received final evening, there's no telling what sort of equally optimistic affect it might have had on the movie business. And if the Oscars maintain rewarding norm-reinforcing, socially backwards films like Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody, we'll by no means get to seek out out. 

Are the Grammys Better Than the Oscars Now?