The Grammys say that Kacey Musgraves is not country; fans don’t care –

Oh, did you think the anonymous committees were gone? This was a different anonymous committee.

The Recording Academy found itself in a recognizable mess this week when word spread that the industry group had banned Kacey Musgraves’ “Star-Crossed” from being considered in the country album category in the 64th installment of the Grammy Awards scheduled for January 31.

In a widely shared letter from Cindy Mabe, president of Musgraves’ record company, Universal Music Group Nashville, to academy director Harvey Mason Jr., Mabe argues that the exclusion of “Star-Crossed,” apparently because it is not Country enough, it’s unfair. because the decision was made in part by people who would benefit from it.

The people you refer to? Country artists (and their team members) are more likely to be nominated for a country album without the acclaimed Musgraves as an annoying competitor.

Mabe’s complaint about a conflict of interest evokes Weeknd calling the academy “corrupt” after he failed to capture a single gesture at the latest Grammy ceremony, a public criticism that helped propel the academy into the spring. gone on to eliminate the secret nomination review committees that for years oversaw, and at times amended, the voters’ choices of major awards such as album, album and song of the year.

The committee under fire is now the country’s screening committee, one of several small groups of unspecified experts that the academy still convenes to determine whether certain albums or songs qualify for certain specialized genre awards. The idea of ​​these groups is to make sure that the recordings that compete in the category of traditional R&B performance, for example, really represent that style.

However, it is clear that the same policy issues apply. A nod to the Grammy can lead to a Grammy award or an on-air performance, both of which can lead to a lucrative increase in sales and broadcasts; Musgraves, a proven Grammy favorite, would surely be seen by some in the room as a roadblock to that payday.

Beyond the machinations involved, the academy’s call for the “Star-Crossed” pop trend raises bigger and more complicated questions about how genres are controlled, and by whom, at a time when many of the old lines have been blurred. (An academy spokesperson did not respond to an email asking if the committee’s decision was final. Voting for the first round of the Grammy is due to begin Oct. 22).

In her letter, Mabe notes that Musgraves did “Star-Crossed” with the same creative team that made 2018’s “Golden Hour,” which won Grammy Awards for country album, country song, and country solo performance in addition to overall album of the year. grant. “Sonically, it has more country instrumentation than ‘Golden Hour,’” he adds about the most recent LP, a subjective characterization, to be sure, but adequate for the inherently subjective process of academia.

According to the group’s rule book, the Grammy country categories are open to ‘recordings that use stylistic intent, song structure, lyrical content, and / or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of style and country music culture.

A man in a black velvet jacket smiles

Recording Academy Director Harvey Mason, Jr. at the 63rd Grammy Awards in March.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

However, Mabe also frames the problem in moral terms, telling Mason that removing “Star-Crossed” from the country album category “actually hurts a format that fights against change and inclusion.” Their argument is that country music needs artists like Musgraves, an outspoken woman with progressive social views, as a kind of counterbalance to the likes of Morgan Wallen, who became a hero to the culture’s anti-cancellation squad afterward. to be captured on video. using the N word earlier this year.

“THIS IS NOT ALL WE ARE,” Mabe writes, referring to Wallen and the fans who took his music to new commercial heights, even as some in the industry sought to overthrow him.

But does country music really want Kacey Musgraves? As an institution, the genre is largely shaped by country radio, which has historically shown little interest in Musgraves’ music. (Her highest song on the Billboard country music playlist remains her debut single, “Merry Go ‘Round,” which peaked at No. 10 in 2013). Mabe says that SiriusXM’s Highway channel is playing “Star-Crossed” and that the streaming platforms rated the album as country.

But that’s a bit like claiming that a new potato chip is loved by America because it sells like crazy at Whole Foods.

The Grammy committee members ‘rejection of Musgraves’ new music, which chronicles the end of the brief marriage she sang and began on “Golden Hour,” may be a response to its release. With flashy performances on “Saturday Night Live” and the MTV Video Music Awards and an art short in the style of Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” “Star-Crossed” came out much more like a pop record, or a Taylor Swift project, than a country release, which probably led more Nashville country guys to conclude it wasn’t meant for them.

After all, looks matter deeply in country music: Think of the academy that reportedly rejected Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons” from country consideration in 2016 or on Billboard, which declared that “Old Town Road »By Lil Nas X was ineligible for their 2019 country list. Few would describe Beyoncé and Lil Nas X as country acts. However, the stereotypical notion of what a country act looks like – that is, not a black woman or a black gay man – made it difficult for some to hear that “Daddy Lessons” and “Old Town Road” are definitely country songs. .

The same goes for other genres, of course. When Tyler, the Creator submitted 2019’s “Igor” to the Grammys, he expected a nomination in an overall category, but ended up winning the rap album award despite “Igor’s” general lack of rapping; Justin Bieber complained last year that his “Changes” was nominated for a pop vocal album instead of an R&B award. Both men were categorized according to their established identities, not the actual sound of the music in question.

In a sense, Mabe in her letter seems to want the opposite for Musgraves, who lives in Nashville and records for a country label (although in an obvious crossover, the label partnered with Interscope to release “Star-Crossed”). She suggests that a country identity is less of an aesthetic issue than one of background or philosophy, that the singer should be recognized as a country artist even if he has “Star-Crossed,” which has long been on synthesizers and programmed rhythms and entered the Billboard 200. at No. 3, it doesn’t really sound like a country album.

On Twitter Wednesday, Musgraves posted a photo of herself as a child wearing a cowboy hat and wrote: “You can take the girl out of the country (gender) but you can’t get the country out of the girl.”

And indeed, “Star-Crossed” has its original moments, including the simplified “Camera Roll,” which in a confusing twist reportedly passed the designers’ test for consideration in the US country song category. Grammy. However, Musgraves’ “musical presentation”, to use the academy’s ambiguous terminology, consistently emphasizes textures and attitudes from outside the core of country music.

Basically, this is an album for eating mushrooms, not drinking whiskey.

“Kacey is a beacon in a format ready to reject the idea that there is more than one way to succeed,” Mabe writes, “that there is more than one sound and perspective to what country music is and, most importantly, Who is talking to you “.

To the average listener, these disputed differences are probably not of great concern; Musgraves’ music simply exists, like Tyler, Bieber, and Beyoncé’s, in a boundless streaming ecosystem where everything mixes with everything else.

But what would gatekeepers do if they had no doors to maintain?

We want to give thanks to the author of this article for this amazing content

The Grammys say that Kacey Musgraves is not country; fans don’t care –

Hank Gilbert