This year’s Grammys were important and records were broken but, unlike the Oscars, this fact wasn’t overshadowed by on-stage antics.
The Grammys also allowed a virtual address by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy, something the Oscars failed to make happen — all the more ironic due to the fact that Zelenskyy himself used to be an actor.
Not to mention the incredible tribute to Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins — someone I have seen live on stage, The Color and Shape was one of the first albums I ever owned.
All of this makes for an award show that, in my opinion, has outshined the Oscars in every way — except maybe in the strides made for diversity at the Academy, which have been improving every year and which are long overdue.
The Grammys have not faced the same criticism as the Oscars for being ‘too white’ but they have faced some, and rightly so. Only 10 black artists have won Album of the Year at the Grammys since its inception in 1957 — that is, until Jon Batiste became the 11th this year.
Bruno Mars — as a part of the duo Silk Sonic — became the second artist in history to win Record of the Year three times, tying with Paul Simon.
Tony Benner and Lady Gaga’s Love for Sale won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album — it is 95-year-old Bennet’s 14th win in the category — clearly, ageism is not a factor at the Grammys. The man, sadly, has Alzheimer’s and is still winning awards for his incredible work.
St Vincent became the first female solo artist to win Best Alternative Music Album twice — it’s the first time in Grammy history that a female has won the award two years running. Fiona Apple won last year with Fetch the Bolt Cutters.
Olivia Rodrigo, at 19 years and one month old, became the third-youngest artist ever to win Best New Artist—she trails Billie Eilish who won at 18 and LeAnn Rimes who was just 14 years and six months old — I’m not sure that record will be broken anytime soon.
Finally, Summer of Soul won Best Music Film one week after winning the Oscar for Best Documentary — it is only the second film to do so following 20 Feet From Stardom. This feels incredibly important to me as the film documents the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival — Harlem has not always been portrayed kindly on the silver screen.
All of this was done, and was, importantly, the focus of the evening — not two men slapping each other on stage.
President Zelenskyy’s speech at the Grammys was heart wrenching and poignant — it is fair to remind us that while we watch awards shows, some people on this planet are facing dire and unimaginable circumstances.
What is incredible is that Zelenskyy was an actor, a successful one at that. It seems like a shoo-in that he would speak at the Academy Awards, however, it didn’t happen. They did hold a moment of silence for Ukraine — the Grammys has taken both the public opinion and moral high ground here.
To be fair to the Academy, they have not commented on whether Zelenskyy was invited to speak. It’s quite possible that he simply couldn’t make the appearance — however, something tells me the extremely media savvy President would have jumped at the opportunity to continue to push for his people and cause.
This has even prompted two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn to declare that he would publicly destroy his trophies if Zelenskyy wasn’t offered a slot — something he hasn’t commented on since the awards show.
Penn was recently in Lviv, Ukraine drumming up support for charities there. A spokesperson for Penn told CNET, “He did not watch the Oscars.”
A Tribute to Taylor Hawkins
The outpouring of support and incredible memorial for Taylor Hawkins at the Grammys was moving.
Billie Eilish performing Happier Than Ever in the rain with a picture of Hawkins on her black t-shirt was incredible, and the video tribute to the drummer showed on-stage and backstage footage of Hawkins while the Foo Fighters anthem My Hero — with its iconic drumming by Hawkins — were enough to bring tears to fans’ eyes.
Of course, this has nothing to do with a comparison between the Grammys and the Oscars, but Hawkins’ untimely passing as the Foo Fighters picked up three Grammys really hit hard, at least for this lifelong fan — he will be sorely missed.
All of this, and the style and class with which it was done, made the Grammys really outshine the Oscars in 2022. I applaud the Academy for continuing to become more diverse and inclusive, unfortunately, it was overshadowed by on-stage antics and drama.
The Grammys was a great combination of enjoyment, respect and inclusion that really made it the perfect awards show to close out the season.