January 27, 2020
Claims about voting ‘irregularities’ and inherent racism swirled around this year’s awards but Eilish brought a powerful emotional punch to proceedings
Grammys 2020: Billie Eilishs triumph overshadowed but well-deserved
Almost all awards ceremonies tend to come with a side order of controversy, but whatever took place at this year’s Grammys was clearly going to be overshadowed by what had happened before it. Just days prior to the event, Deborah Dugan, the former CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences filed a lawsuit against the organising body, alleging sexual harassment and racial discrimination, accusing her predecessor as CEO of rape, and referring to “irregularities and conflicts” in the Grammys’ nomination and review process. The whole thing is so rigged, her lawsuit suggested, that an artist managed by a member of the Academy’s board was allowed to sit on the nomination committee of 2019’s song of the year award, a category they were both eligible for, and subsequently nominated in.
One unconfirmed rumour had Taylor Swift pulling out of a surprise performance at the 2020 awards in solidarity with Dugan. Then Sean “Diddy” Combs weighed in. His speech at Clive Davis’s pre-Grammys party apparently went on for 50 minutes. If you’d ever looked at glamorous red-carpet photos of that event and wished you were there, here was a reason to be profoundly grateful you weren’t. His central message, however, was clear: the Grammys are inherently racist. Not just hip-hop artists but black artists generally had “never been respected” at the awards, and it had to stop. “Y’all got 365 days to sort this shit out,” he declared.
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