Dear Grammy Voters:
Listen, I understand the challenge you faced when selecting the album of the year.
I’m a huge R&B fan too. For me, it started with my mom’s influence. She loved all the Motown artists, and I grew up hearing the greats from Motown’s golden age.
When it comes to music, I go through phases. I’ve had a few country music phases in my life. The same with rock & roll, classical, jazz, and pop. I even flirt with heavy metal and world music from time to time.
But the one music that I can always listen to, no matter my mood, is R&B. The great R&B songs, artists, and albums, they all have just the right song to hear, no matter what. It’s not seasonal; it’s not a phase. R&B just really speaks to my soul.
What I’m saying is: I get it. I understand why you wanted Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” to be the album of the year.
Let’s face it, the year 2017 is the decade that lasted 100 years.
Last year, well, it sucked. As an old colleague of mine is fond of saying, it sucked donkey balls. It really, really did.
But that doesn’t mean 24K Magic is the album that speaks best to last year.
It’s a great album. Don’t get me wrong. I really like Bruno Mars as an artist. I have his albums, and I’m always interested in what he’ll do next.
But he was the safe choice. He’s the artist who isn’t too threatening to old and middle-aged white listeners.
Which is ironic because some of the most groundbreaking, look-at-the-world-as-it-burns music came from the R&B tradition. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On is an album that still smacks you in the face with its emotion and holds a mirror to what ails us. (That those same issues are still here 46 years later is a topic for another time.)
But Bruno Mars didn’t release the 2017 answer to What’s Going On.
Two other artists did. One is Kendrick Lamar. The other is Jay Z.
Both of those artists were a better pick for album of the year.
And please don’t try telling me they split the vote, so it went to Bruno Mars. I’m not buying it.
Get over your fear of hip-hop/rap, Grammy voters. Whether or not you like it, it’s here to stay. And its artists are writing songs with the messages that we used to hear in R&B.
If a middle-aged white woman with little music industry knowledge can figure that out, then why can’t you? After all, to be a Grammy voter, I’d assume you’re an expert and critic of the music industry.
Shouldn’t you know better?