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Billie Eilish wins big at the Grammys

The eighteen-year-old picked up five Grammys this year, while Tyler The Creator won his first award for 2019’s IGOR.

The Grammys are never without their controversies.

In the past few years awards shows have been receiving much-deserved criticism for their white washing of accolades, frequently snubbing black artists and female musicians of mainstream recognition. This year was no different; Diddy called the academy out for its long history of ignoring iconic, timeless records by artists such as Nas and Beyoncé, and Tyler The Creator expressed disappointment at his placement in the urban category.

Tributes were paid to Kobe Bryant who passed away early Sunday morning, as well as the late LA rapper Nipsey Hussle, while Prince’s ‘Kiss’ and ‘When Doves Don’t Cry’ were covered by Usher to a mixed reception.

It was a good year for Gen Z musicians however, who collectively rounded up a large chunk of the night’s winnings across the board. Eighteen year-old Billie Eilish took home five Grammys, including Album Of The Year, Best New Artist, Song Of The Year, and Record Of The Year. Lil Nas X, Rosalia, and Lizzo all went home with awards too, while younger artists such as 21 Savage and YBN Corgae received nominations for best rap album.

2020 was all about the self-made pop stars with social media origins, from SoundCloud to TikTok. Genre-bending artists across the board managed to take the spotlight this year, providing a brief moment of triumph for a generation that continues to bend the rules of an ever-evolving industry.

Billie taking home so many awards shouldn’t be a massive surprise to anyone who’s been keeping up with pop music in the last year or so. Her debut When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, which was a lo-fi, atmospheric delight, propelled her from SoundCloud pop singer to full blown Gen Z icon.

What’s even more impressive is that the entire project was produced solely by her brother Finneas O’Connell, who began his career developing tracks in his bedroom. You can watch the duo’s acceptance speech below if you’re a budding songwriter in need of inspiration.

Lil Nas X also picked up two awards for Best Music Video and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for the Tik Tok-fuelled smash hit ‘Old Town Road’, which remains the longest running number one song of all time. His story is a similar one to Billie’s, a self-produced artist who managed to make it to the mainstream without a carefully orchestrated masterplan.

The Grammy’s still have a long way to go when it comes to diversity and accurate representation of the industry as a whole. Tyler’s comments about the term urban acting as a ‘politically correct way to the say the N word’ felt particularly poignant. This year was a step in the right direction – Billie’s huge sweep of big awards was a great achievement, and Rosalia’s numerous wins were a welcome surprise. Younger musicians getting time in the spotlight was welcomed too, but the nominations are still far from a totally even playing field.

For now, this feels like a moment for Gen Z’s artistry, and we’re very likely to see more SoundCloud, TikTok, and YouTube stars take the awards home this decade. But as Diddy said this year, the Grammys have 365 days to ‘get this right for real’, and I stand by that sentiment all the way.