The ‘Despacito’ Snub Proves the Grammys Aren’t Changing With the Times


At last night’s Grammy Awards, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee took the stage to sing their 2017 hit “Despacito” (yes, the Spanish-language version without Justin Bieber) and the crowd was thrilled, dancing and singing along the entire time. We also saw great moments from Cardi B and a phenomenal speech in support of DREAMers from Camila Cabello. And Bruno Mars won Album of the Year! But despite these great moments in Latinx history, there is one thing that remains clear: The Grammys is still struggling to embrace non-traditional, forward-thinking music.

Although I love Bruno Mars and his music dearly, the internet blew up after Jay-Z lost all eight of the awards he was nominated for (the highest nominated artist this year, by the way), Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z lost out to Bruno for the coveted Album of the Year, and “Despacito” didn’t win any of its three nominations. The question remains: Why is the Grammys continuously ignoring hip-hop and non-traditional music in general?

24K Magic was a great album, but it was also the safe, obvious choice when compared to Kendrick Lamar’s Damn and Jay Z’s 4:44. When the nominations for Album of the Year first came out, there was hope that the “stodgy, too-white and too-old voting body” of the Recording Academy may finally be shedding its old reputation since no white men were nominated this year. And Lamar or Jay-Z were poised to have the first rap album to win since OutKast took home the trophy 14 years ago. And then came the disappointment. It went down like last year, when Adele’s 25 beat out the critically acclaimed Lemonade by Beyoncé. There’s many other examples of this throughout the Grammys history, and they’re too depressing to recount. Fans, of course, were quick to get angry.

It’s no surprise, then, that Slate is predicting that it will be really difficult for the Recording Academy to convince hip-hop and rap artists to perform at next year’s ceremony. After continuously snubbing them, Slate asks: Why should artists like Kendrick Lamar even continue to show up?

“Despacito,” the top song of 2017, was also snubbed despite an enthralling performance. According to Forbes, the song sold nearly 7 million “track-equivalent copies” last year, tied the record for the longest-running Number 1 on the Hot 100 in history (topping the charts for an astounding 16 straight weeks), and the video for the song has over 4 billion views on YouTube. It is also the most-watched video in more than 50 other countries and is the most-steamed song of all time. And last but not least, yesterday “Despacito” became the first Latin song “ever to reach RIAA Diamond Certification for U.S. sales of 10 million units or more, an honor fewer than 20 songs in history have achieved.”

So where, exactly, is the Recording Academy’s love for this song? Nowhere, it seems. The Grammys just can’t got the forward-thinking route, and step out of their comfortable voting patterns. An all-Spanish song that was undeniably successful and proved capable of crossing over into all types of markets? I guess not. Fans are noticing this snub, too, and they’re angry.

Some of us might be sick of the song, but that doesn’t mean it deserves the accolades any less.

Like we mentioned, we’re thrilled to see Bruno receive such praise for his work. But the fact that the Grammys couldn’t have a more diverse pool of winners is really depressing. Perhaps the uproar from fans who feel that “Despacito” (the undisputed #1 song of 2017) and the brilliant, relevant, and socially conscious albums of Jay Z or Kendrick Lamar were more deserving than what actually won, will finally enact some change in the Recording Academy, who still needs to embrace hip-hop, rap, and other non-traditional (and non-white) forms of music.

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