Taylor Swift won album of the year Sunday for "Midnights" at the 2024 Grammy Awards.
It was her record-breaking fourth win in the category. SZA's "SOS" should've won instead.
"Midnights" was a safe choice for Grammy voters, yet it lacks the nuance of Swift's best work.
The 66th Grammy Awards were going surprisingly well — until the very end.
For the first time in history, female-fronted bands swept the rock categories. Miley Cyrus was palpably delighted to win her first Grammy — and then she won her second. Victoria Monét dedicated her best-new-artist award to 15 years of hard work. Billie Eilish's ode to womanhood, "What Was I Made For?" won the top songwriting prize. Joni Mitchell's debut performance on the fabled stage made everyone cry.
She made the announcement fairly early in the show, while accepting the award for best pop vocal album for "Midnights." True to form, Swift ensured this year's Grammy discourse would be dominated by her music, even if she didn't win a major award.
Perhaps she assumed it would be her last time onstage for the rest of the night. I wish she had been correct.
Alas, the evening ended with Swift notching her record-breaking fourth win for album of the year.
In some ways, it was a fitting end for a ceremony dominated by women — and, more specifically, their hard-fought battles to be seen and taken seriously.
But in other, more frustrating ways, Swift's win reinforced concerns about music-industry gatekeepers who refuse to evolve.
Swift is a dominant cultural force by any measure. One could argue that in a patriarchal society, allowing a woman to achieve her level of success is an inherently progressive act.
But Swift is also a lifelong Grammy darling who made a safe pop album. "Midnights" is a commercial smash, but it didn't unveil any side of Swift that we hadn't already seen. It lacks the meticulous cohesion of "Fearless," the ingenious nerve of "1989," and the lyrical mastery of "Folklore," her three previous album-of-the-year winners.
Even as a card-carrying Swiftie, I was disappointed to watch her accept the historic trophy — breaking a tie with the legendary musicians Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, and Paul Simon — for an album that doesn't exhibit her true genius.
I was even more disappointed to watch Swift win over SZA, whose sophomore album, "SOS," earned universal acclaim.
"SOS" reigned at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for 10 weeks — longer than any fellow nominee — and has been hailed by critics as a multifaceted masterpiece.
The album solidified SZA as "a generational talent" and "a key voice in her generation," Pitchfork and Rolling Stone said, respectively. The songs put her in the same conversation as Beyoncé and Lauryn Hill, Mikael Wood wrote for the Los Angeles Times.
Fittingly and infuriatingly, SZA's loss came shortly after Jay-Z called out the Recording Academy for its long history of snubbing Beyoncé.
Despite being the most awarded person in Grammy history, Beyoncé has won only once in a general-field category (song of the year for "Single Ladies" in 2010). Only 11 Black artists have ever won album of the year.
Much like last year, when Beyoncé's "Renaissance" lost album of the year to Harry Styles' "Harry's House," it's impossible to ignore the racial bias at play in these decisions. White artists are disproportionately celebrated in major categories — oftentimes for work that's less vital yet more palatable.
The blame does not lay squarely at Swift's feet, or Styles' feet, or those of any other white artist who takes home an award they didn't need. But as fans, if we continue to accept this pattern as acceptable, the blame will lay at ours.
Read the original article on Business Insider