In an awards season that has finally started to tackle the problem of sexual assault and harassment in the entertainment industry, the 2018 Grammys broke with tradition and seemed to more explicitly address politics than ever before. At this year’s ceremony, celebrities used the opportunity to publicize the Time’s Up movement, discuss the continuing suicide epidemic, and recognize the targeting of immigrant communities.
In many ways, the ceremony felt like a dedicated attempt from the Academy to improve their reputation, which has been damaged by failing to recognize the accomplishments of black artists in favor of less significant white artists in the past (though it often felt like the Academy was overcorrecting for their missteps in the past, instead of creating genuine opportunities to address structural inequality and challenge systems of power).
This year’s ceremony saw the most Latino performers in over a decade, and even included acknowledgement of continuing attacks on immigrant communities. The presence of more Latino talent was memorable – after a year that saw renewed visibility for Latinos in mainstream pop music, it seems only natural that the Academy would create a ceremony that accurately reflects what the music landscape looked like in 2017. But for many, “Despacito” losing in the Song of the Year and Record of the Year categories felt like a missed opportunity – no matter what you think of it, the song became a global phenomenon, breaking records as one of the most-streamed songs of all time after garnering more than 4.6 billion plays across major platforms (and the “Despacito” music video remains the most-watched YouTube clip of all time).
Of course, there’s still much more work to be done to fight the segmentation of Latinos in the music industry, and the addressing the ongoing devastation in Puerto Rico remains key. Regardless of who you rooted for, here’s a roundup of what you may have missed at the show: