If, like me, you’ve found yourself fatigued by The Slap, you’re in luck, because this Sunday’s 64th annual Grammy Awards might just be the next venue for a perplexing piece of award show performance art. Prepare for the internet to be a place of pure chaos for yet another week!
Music’s biggest night is upon us, and the Recording Academy has decided to deal us all the hand from hell by honoring some of today’s most problematic men all at once. And in Las Vegas. Based on its nominations, this year’s ceremony may convene musicians and comedians like Kanye West, Marilyn Manson, Louis C.K., and Dave Chapelle in one place that isn’t a Sunday Service.
While West may have gone and gotten himself banned from performing at the show—thanks to his now-infamous activity on social media—the disgruntled almost-divorcé is still invited to attend. Ye even nabbed five nominations for Donda, including Album of the Year and Best Rap Song for “Jail.” Notably, his attendance might give pause to the show’s host, Trevor Noah. In the event you missed that news cycle, West directed a racial slur toward Noah in recent weeks and landed himself in Instagram jail as a result. Noah already responded publicly to Ye’s remarks, but I think it’s wise to brace ourselves for Noah to address Ye in some capacity during the show.
A collaborator of Ye’s, Marilyn Manson aka Brian Warner aka accused sexual predator and abuser, is also nominated for his work on Donda. My money’s on them attending together—hopefully, wearing matching masks.
As for the comedians who, as of now, have yet to get an open palm to the face, Louis C.K. received a Best Comedy Album nomination for Sincerely Louis CK. Assuming you’ve forgotten, that special was his first since C.K. admitted to sexual misconduct that included masturbating in front of multiple women. Dave Chappelle, who recently managed to weather the fallout from transphobic comments made in his recent Netflix special, also scored a nomination for Best Spoken Word for his work on Amir Sulaiman’s “8:46.” Though, it seems a bit unlikely that Chappelle will win, given his opponents include former president Barack Obama, Don Cheadle (a “Protect Trans Kids” t-shirt-wearing king), and LeVar Burton (the master of all millennial hearts since Reading Rainbow).
Like many awards shows as of late, the Grammys are no stranger to controversy. Drake and The Weeknd have both made bold statements about where they stand. Earlier this year, Drake withdrew his two 2022 nominations—Best Rap Album for Certified Lover Boy and Best Rap Performance for “Way 2 Sexy”—which some have speculated might be related to his being named in several Astroworld festival lawsuits. Last year, The Weeknd announced that he would no longer submit his work to the Academy because “the trust has been broken for so long between the Grammy organization and artists that it would be unwise to raise a victory flag.” Despite this turmoil, when this year’s questionable Grammy nominations were announced back in November, the internet still collectively wondered how the Academy could possibly defend itself.
Of course, Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, tried. “We won’t restrict the people who can submit their material for consideration. We won’t look back at people’s history, we won’t look at their criminal record, we won’t look at anything other than the legality within our rules of, is this recording for this work eligible based on date and other criteria. If it is, they can submit for consideration,” he told The Wrap.
Seems...like a wildly unethical system, Harvey!
Given its recent ratings decline, perhaps Mason Jr. and the Academy feel their honorees—regardless of how truly troublesome they may be before or during the broadcast—are risks worth taking to win back audiences. After all, a little controversy worked for last Sunday’s Oscars. If that’s enough to ease their conscience, great! But for me, it’s a gamble that’ll cost them at least one viewer and any remaining respect.