At the 60th Grammy Awards, Bruno Mars completed a clean sweep of the major awards by winning Album of the Year for 24k Magic. This came as somewhat of a shock, with much of the pre-awards hype centred upon Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and Lorde’s Melodrama. Yet what should have been the pinnacle of Mars’ career has been tarnished by the vitriol and criticism targeted at his double-platinum album. As soon as Bono read out Mars’ name, social media was flooded with condemnation and anger, with fans of Lamar and Lorde both claiming that the respective artists should have one. It seems prescient to point out that this happens every year; rarely is anyone ever content with the winner. Nonetheless, the fury directed towards this win seems to be on a level not seen since Beck prompted Kanye’s rant in 2015.
It is my view that the ire directed towards 24k Magic is unfair and inappropriate. This was not a stellar shortlist; DAMN. was nowhere near as good as either of Kendrick’s previous Grammy snubs, 4:44 was worthy of a nomination but no-one heard it, “Awaken My Love!” was notable only for his meme of the year contender (‘Redbone’), and Melodrama was uninspiring. None of the nominated albums are perfect and unlike Adele’s 25 there is no runaway winner.
24k Magic is a vibrant, fun and joyful album. Each of the record’s nine songs is fantastic, drawing influence from the halcyon days of ‘90s R&B. It perfectly encapsulates Mars as an artist; a creative chameleon who pulls inspiration from the best of musical decades. The production quality and attention to detail are also second to none – make no mistake this album is perfectly crafted and to denounce it as simply standardised pop betrays the craftsmanship put into it. Two songs from 24k Magic, ‘That’s What I Like’ and the title track ‘24k Magic’ won Song of the Year and Record of the Year, a resounding statement about the quality of the album if ever there was one. Moreover, the positive messages of love and joy which exude from every second of this album are exactly what the world needs right now. In his acceptance speech last night, Mars echoed these sentiments stating that all he wanted from his album was to get ‘people from across the globe dancing again.’ Furthermore, out of the five nominated albums, 24k Magic is undoubtedly the most enjoyable listen, a fact which almost certainly had something to do with his win.
It has been stated by various news outlets and magazines that the Grammys ‘missed a chance’ to make a statement. Yet surely, the win of Mars is equally notable and should be applauded. His parents are of Puerto Rican and Filipino descent and his success is the result of years of grind and hard work. Whilst this is undoubtedly also true for the other nominees, it highlights the falsity of the view that other candidates were more deserving because of the message that would send.