The Good, the Bad and the Grammys: Selective Reviews of this Year’s Grammy Winners


Jackson Wyatt, Digital Editor-in-Chief

How important are the Grammys?

“I think they’re pretty important because some newer-artist-related awards can launch people into stardom. It’s an endpoint for many artists who want to make it big,” said Briseyda Salgado, class of 2020.

“I honestly think that the Grammys and other award shows are just there so the American people can be distracted from the real problems occurring in the country,” said Connor Fowler, class of 2020.


The Grammys this year were filled with both cathartic wins and controversial choices. With viral moments and flashy outfits galore, it was nothing short of an event. When the glitz and glam are gone at the end of the day, though, how do some of their picks for the most prominent awards hold up?


Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour

American singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves’ 2018 album Golden Hour won the Grammy for Album of the Year and Best Country Album, and songs from it won Best Solo Country Performance and Best Country Song. The record draws mainly on Musgraves’ familiar territory of country while incorporating pop sensibilities, alternative-style instrumentation and even the smooth backbeats of disco. It risks being too emotionally twee and sugary at points, but with every twangy country-ism there are ten lines of lyrics that expertly hit due to Musgraves’ concise and immediate songwriting. Her melodies are sweet, her hooks stick and her voice is effortlessly smooth. It may work slightly better as soft, background-listening music than a forward-thinking, genre-defying masterpiece, but it is still an effervescent and uniquely enjoyable album.

Rating: 7.7/10


Cardi B, Invasion of Privacy

Rapper Cardi B’s win for Best Rap Album with her studio debut Invasion of Privacy seemed to cause more controversy than praise. For a critically and commercially well-received album, its backlash was decently widespread. Looking past all of the tabloids, though, Invasion is solid for a mainstream hip-hop album. It mixes Cardi’s bombastic and confident energy with lavishly colorful production. The true selling point is her personality and voice. Whether singing a hook, bouncing around on a rowdy cut or working through her emotions on the handful of slower tracks, Cardi’s voice is singularly hers and expressive. Is the record a little too surface level in both emotions and musical ideas? Yes, but it is not meant to be some magnum opus of purpose. It exists as an ode to excess, balancing candy-coated rhymes with clean, speaker-pounding production. In that sense, it is very successful.

Rating: 6.5/10


Childish Gambino, ‘This Is America’

The win of Childish Gambino (a.k.a. American actor, comedian, writer, director and rapper Donald Glover)’s track ‘This Is America’ for Best Rap/Sung Performance, Best Music Video, Record of the Year and Song of the Year feels like a watershed moment for the Grammys. As the first rap song to ever win the latter two awards, there was a sense of pride mingled with incredulousness. Is ‘This Is America’ even in the top ten greatest rap songs released in the past decade? At best, it would probably appear near the bottom, given the massive output of recent years’ masterful material. Is it the best track of 2018, though? In my opinion, yes (which I reflected on in my countdown of music releases from last year). ‘America’ features flawless production, an electric performance from Glover, concise lyricism and themes that manage to summarize the many debatable topics of our current climate (gun violence, police brutality and the distractions of popular culture). It is a masterwork in the sense of being a capital-S statement and a successful talking point that bridges political activism with viral hit-making. The only legitimate competition in its category for Song of the Year was Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born cut ‘Shallow,’ and while the track is an essential element of its respective film, it does not feature the same kind of social impact. The success of ‘This Is America’ at this year’s Grammys is definitely the right step towards acknowledgement of quality and diversity for the awards show.


At times, it can be tempting to focus on the prominence and value of awards on pieces of music. While they can be a good indication to the popular opinions of the masses, the Grammys and other establishments do not exclusively dictate the value of artists. For many of this year’s winners, I would have chosen an album or track that was not even nominated by them to begin with. This is due to music’s objectivity. My album of the year is no better than theirs, but when this informal dialogue is set up between the listener and such a process, it fosters discussion over both the importance and current state of music in our culture. That is more golden than any award.


(All sources from the Grammy awards’ website)