While awards season grows more inclusive, women are still underrepresented in Grammy nominations

The problem is bigger than just awards shows.


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Lorde’s Melodrama is the only album from a female artist to be nominated for Album of the Year at this year’s Grammy Awards.

Make no mistake — women are powerful. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have given women a voice to condemn sexual assault. Women’s marches across the country have allowed people young and old to stand up for their rights.

But no matter how loudly we protest, we are always back to the systemic sexism ingrained in our society. And the Grammy Awards are no exception.

Take the Song of the Year category, for instance. In all fairness, two of the five songs feature female co-writers: Alessia Cara and Julia Michaels. But the other song nominations recycle the same artists from the record of the year category: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and Jay-Z.

Let’s talk about “Despacito” (Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber) for a second. Despite its commercial success, is it really a more well-written song than Kesha’s empowering anthem “Praying,” which received extreme critical acclaim?

Kesha’s past few years have been clouded by her ongoing legal battle with producer Dr. Luke. Despite this, Luke remains a force in the music industry.

Also for song of the year, Little Big Town failed to receive a nomination for “Better Man,” a country song by a group including two female singers, Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, and written by accomplished female songwriter Taylor Swift. The song was the winner for the 2017 CMA Award for song of the year and has two Grammy nominations this year — it could have had three.

Women were shut out completely from the Record of the Year category. “The Story of O.J.” by Jay-Z is not even a single. While it certainly tells a story through rap, giving Jay-Z another nomination when there are other viable options is a bit insulting to the hardworking, talented female musicians of the industry who are also valid contenders for the award.

They say to give credit where credit is due; women deserve more for their contributions, and no song in the Record of the Year category is a true runaway in terms of production, vocals or engineering (songwriters of the winning song do not get this award).

Nominations for the top prize, Album of the Year, could have very well given SZA a nod. Her debut album, Ctrl, was critically acclaimed and is certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America; her single “The Weekend” is certified platinum.

It is already tough to score a big debut with critics’ approval as an artist, and especially so as a woman; SZA should have been rewarded with a top nomination. She does have five nominations, but she ultimately gets snubbed from a category she deserves no less than the others there.

Will it really take another Weinstein-like revelation to curb the music industry from supporting an uncomfortable (and rather unfair) culture for women and make the systemic sexism at award shows stop?

It’s time that we celebrate the impact of women in music instead of hiding it. The Grammy Awards should be a celebration of all music, not just music made by men.

Edited by Claire Colby | ccolby@themaneater.com

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