Hello! Is this thing on? Welcome to this column’s final installment: the good, bad and ugly of pop music culture. Starting the year off on an odd note, the 2018 Grammy Awards left many viewers feeling a little lackluster. Here are some of the facts: the most-nominated male and female artists, Jay-Z and SZA, were shut out of the awards. Among all Album Of The Year nominees, lone female Lorde was the only one not offered a solo performance on stage. Amidst the Time’s Up campaign, just one major award went to a woman: Best New Artist to Alessia Cara. When asked about the male-dominated awards, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow told Variety, “[Women] need to step up.” Nice!
In the end, we were left with Bruno Mars as the apparent hero of the night. But for an artist who racked up six trophies, Mars keeps a relatively low celebrity profile. Contrary to the life of luxury depicted throughout his discography, he doesn’t make too much of a splash in the news. Yet, perhaps this works to his advantage, forging his image as an untouchable one-man show. After first catching our attention as the chorus on B.o.B.’s 2009 hit, “Nothin’ On You,” Mars has seldom since settled for the rank of featured artist.
The undeniable trump card of Bruno Mars is his mass appeal. His smooth tenor and retro musical style are teasingly sexy, but not racy enough to turn away some audiences. Mars flirts with more risqué lyrics on his album “24K Magic” (2016), but his charm keeps him in check for both kids and parents alike. Yet I find myself somewhere in between, seeking something a little less vanilla. He’s the prom king; he’s the crowd-pleaser we want at our Super Bowl halftime show. However, in order to shake up the industry, Mars will need to start taking more risks. After you win six Grammys in one year, where do you go next? His collaboration with Cardi B on “Finesse (Remix)” (2018) is perhaps exactly what he needs to spice things up.
The morning after the awards, Twitter was peppered with half-hearted disappointment. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon shared his dismay, tweeting that SZA and Kendrick Lamar should “move on from this s— show.” During the airing, Apple chimed in with two ads for the wildly useful (by that, I mean not at all) “animojis” for iPhone X. One displayed an alien crooning Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” (2016), and the other fittingly pairs a trio of animals with Migos’ “Stir Fry” (2017). Yes, Apple is using a song about cooking crack cocaine as its highly coveted commercial music. It’s sneaky on Migos’ part, as the trio distracts us from the trap agenda with the interspersed dog “wroofing.” In fact, I think this would be the perfect theme song for “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” (2016–). And just like that, I’ve already forgotten about Bruno Mars. As always, if any of this strikes a chord with you, email me your thoughts, comments and suggestions!