Can Beyoncé Shake The Racism of the Grammy Awards?

Can Beyoncé Shake The Racism of the Grammy Awards?

The Recording Academy has a chance to depart from their white washed ways in 2017.
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2016 is drawing to close, which means not only are half-hearted New Years resolutions upon us but so is Awards Season. The Grammy Awards, which just released the list of nominees for their 59th awards season, are undeniably the largest form of recognition in the music industry. Unfortunately for Music's Biggest Night, many members of the music community do not respect the institution because of it's white washed tendencies.

If you haven't so much as glanced through the nominations ever in the history of the awards show, you may have missed this unwritten rule of the Grammy Awards that black artists are generally only nominated for the R& ,,B and Rap music categories, while the other 38 categories are populated with white artists. A few artists, such as Beyoncé, are the exception to this rule, but many incredible artists and records are overlooked for Album of the Year or Best Pop Vocal Performance, while mediocre white musicians are continuously praised for their work.

Countless times throughout the awards' history, a talented artist who was a person of color has won the nomination but lost the gold statue in the shadow of a white artist. Take for example 2016's upset for Song of the Year when Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" won over Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" - a racially and politically charged song that is outstanding in its production and performance was glossed over for your run-of-the-mill uninspired singer-songwriter pop love song. "Thinking Out Loud" has a very sparse and unimagined arrangement, cheesy lyrics, and has very simple production techniques used on it. "Alright", converse,h as an unconventional arrangement that utilizes brass instruments and vocal pads to drive the song forward. Additionally, Kendrick is speaking out about the oppression of black citizens by police officers. Ed Sheeran most likely won because of the color of his skin; there is no denying in this scenario that Kendrick had written the superior song.

In that same season, Best Music Video nominations included A$AP Rocky for "L$D", Kendrick Lamar for "Alright", and Pharrell Williams for "Freedom". Shockingly, the award was given to the white pop star on the list, Taylor Swift for "Bad Blood". Have you seen the video? Let's watch it real quick:



Now, let's look at the video for "Alright":


Why is this even a discussion? The video for "Bad Blood" is Taylor showing off her roster of A-list friends - exhibiting white feminism at its finest - and the concept itself is safe, boring, and poorly pieced together. Kendrick's video is thought provoking, artful, and serves as a piece of social commentary. Racism in America won yet again, failing to recognize the incredible accomplishments of a musical genius in favor of a walking Barbie doll.

The 59th Grammy Awards has the opportunity to take a stand against the white patriarchal institution and support the diversity that truly comprises the recording industry. Beyoncé is up for nine award nominations, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. The body of work being recognized is the visual album Lemonade, which is arguably her strongest work to date, and an album largely reflecting themes many pop songs do not address in regards to marriage troubles, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement and feminist ideals. Nominated against her in many of these categories is Adele, a white English artist who sings mostly sad love songs. Can you see where I'm going with this?

Additionally, it's interesting to see that the Grammy Awards deemed it appropriate to nominate Beyoncé and Jack White for "Don't Hurt Yourself" for Best Rock Performance, but "Daddy Lessons", also from Lemonade, was snubbed for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance. "Daddy Lessons" got a nod from the Country Music Association Awards earlier this year, While not nominated, Beyoncé was invited to perform the song during the awards show with Dixie Chicks (which received an uproar in social media backlash because the predominantly white audience did not appreciate Beyonce's association with the Black Lives Matter movement).

There's no argument here, it's a country song - but because the recording artist in question is not a traditional (erm, white) artist who only sings about guns and getting drunk and their pickup truck, no one wants to acknowledge the piece for what it is. Country singer Dierks Bentley was quoted in Billboard vaguely supporting the piece:

“There is just something intangible about it that it feels like a country song, It’s not just choruses that are catchy and verses that could be intermixed anywhere as some pop songs are. It’s a real story that she tells about what’s going on in her life growing up.”

However, this song's defining qualities are not intangible. Everything about the chord progression, arrangement, content, and performance of "Daddy Lessons" make this track a country song. Critics and audiences should be celebrating the crossover work, but instea, they're pushing it under the rug because it was released by a black pop star.

Beyoncé's potential awards sweep would speak volumes to the worth of women of color in this industry, and frankly the country at large. If she loses to Adele or Justin Bieber, who is also nominated against her in a handful of these categories, the Recording Academy will be showing us that they have not heard anything the community has been saying for years.

The Recording Academy needs to stop rewarding mediocre white men for their mediocre work, stop telling black musicians that they can't be considered for awards outside of the two categories they've been boxed into, and stop perpetuating the white supremacy that is ruling the industry.

All entertainment awards going into early 2017 are going to be important, because not only have they fallen under criticism in recent years for the lack of diversity, but additionally because the country has fallen under the authority of a Fascist White Supremacist. If the Grammy Awards uphold the racist history they've built their foundation on, it will only further normalize and reinforce the terrifying political climate we are barreling into head first.

Cover Image Credit: https://thesuaz.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/queenb_suazmo.jpg

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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