By now, you’ve surely read or heard on TV or around the water cooler that Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic won the Album Of The Year Grammy, beating contenders like Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Lorde. You may have even heard that there’s been a pretty significant backlash to the pick; even Bon Iver, who had no dog in the fight, chimed in on the upset, questioning how Mars’ admittedly excellent 24K could deserve to win over Jay’s deeply personal 4:44 or Kendrick’s transcendent DAMN. Digital ink is even now being spilled to decry the Grammys’ atrocious record in terms of honoring women and other minorities with awards.
You might be wondering, even now, What’s the big deal? Isn’t Bruno Mars an ethnic minority himself? You people are never satisfied. Well, I’m glad you bring the point up because it seems like you’ve hit upon The Recording Academy’s rationale in selecting Bruno over other worthy options and their inevitable defense when taken to task by just about the entire music industry over it in the months to come.
Because here’s the thing: Bruno Mars is not your loophole, Grammy committee.
I can see the thinking behind the selection. Bruno, born Peter Gene Hernandez in Honolulu, Hawaii, is Filipino and Puerto Rican, and his album was a pastiche of Black musical sounds from the past three decades, incorporating old-school hip-hop and New Jack swing, funk, R&B, and trap-rap beats to pay homage to the songwriters and singers Bruno looked up to as a youth. 24K Magic is wall-to-wall bops, a collection of undeniable toe-tappers and bedroom mixtape anthems.