Amidst all of the controversy and lawsuits surrounding the Recording Academy and its executive members, the 2020 Grammys was generally a successful broadcast. Billie Eilish took the spotlight with five wins, including the big four: best song, best album, best record, and best new artist. Not only is she one of the youngest artists to receive a Grammy, but she was also the first woman to sweep the main categories. Lizzo opened the show with a powerful two-song medley of her hits “Cuz I Love You” and “Truth Hurts” and took home three wins. Demi Lovato performed an emotional and moving song that she wrote just days before her overdose back in 2018. Tyler, the Creator won best rap album. Lil Nas X, an openly gay man of color, performed arguably the biggest song of the year, “Old Town Road,” with a superstar cast including BTS, a Korean boy group topping the Billboard charts, and Nas, a rapper who up until this year, never performed on the Grammy stage.
Can you see where I’m going with this? Pop music has evolved greatly in the past few decades, and most notably in the past few years. It’s become a more inclusive, intersectional environment, and although there is much, much more work to do in the scope of the American music industry and its politics, this is a great stepping stone of progress.
A decade ago, the face of pop music looked a little different; Taylor Swift won album of the year for “Fearless,” Kings of Leon won record of the year with “Use Somebody,” and Beyonce walked away with six awards. It was still a great year in music, and the voices that were heard and recognized for their talent continue to make music in the pop genre. But pop is no longer what it was 10 years ago. Now, it’s something much broader that encompasses people from a wider spectrum of walks of life, style, body types, and sexualities. Billie Eilish’s first studio album would have never made it into the pop category of a major award ceremony back in 2010, and I argue that Lizzo’s aggressively positive music wouldn’t resonate as much as does now. Pop music is moving toward something that means more to diverse people around the world. Popular music in America doesn’t even have to be in English anymore; BTS and Rosalía both performed as international artists, with Rosalía nominated for best new artist.
The pop music scene is taking a turn, and I argue, it’s taking a turn for the better.