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The Absentee Paradox: Analyzing the 2019 Grammy’s Low Attendance

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The Absentee Paradox: Analyzing the 2019 Grammy’s Low Attendance

Lauren Farrell, Staff Writer

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During largely-televised, star-studded events like the Grammys, viewers are constantly engaged by a fast-paced sequence of events with celebrity faces in each shot to keep interest solely on screen. Yet despite the awkwardly cut-off speeches, mixed-reviewed performances, eye-catching outfits, and political statements of the 2019 show, one of the most remarkable aspects was the stars who weren’t present.

Taylor Swift received only one nomination: Best Pop Vocal Album for her album Reputation. The album scored multiple wins at the Billboard Awards and AMAs, broke many records in the world of music, and is her most widely-acclaimed work yet. While Swift’s fans complained that she had been snubbed, the pop star instead spent the night supporting her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, at the BAFTAs, which occurred in London on the same night.

Instead of Swift, Ariana Grande went on to win the Grammy for Sweetener, but she boycotted the show as well. Ken Ehrlich, producer of The Grammys, stated that Grande had the opportunity to perform but refused because she “felt it was too late for her to pull something together.” Grande took to Twitter, lashing back that Ehrlich was “lying” and her “creativity and self-expression were stifled,” thus refusing to accept her award at the event.

Dressed in a pastel pink-and-blue mini dress, Beyonce was at the Pre-Grammys Roc Nation Brunch with her husband Jay-Z. They won Best Urban Contemporary Album for Everything Is Love. Beyonce has not attended the event since her album Lemonade lost to Adele’s 25 for Album of the Year in 2017.

P!nk comically tweeted, “I think it’s kind of rad that I just lost my 20th Grammy nomination. I’m always honored to be included.” She claimed the reason she stayed home was to take care of her baby as he had been battling a cold. On Instagram, she posted the handmade “Grammys” her children made for her, which she said were her “favorite kind of award” anyway.

Donald Glover, also known as Childish Gambino, won both Song and Record of the Year for “This Is America,” but was not there to accept the awards. When awarded with Song of the Year, presenter John Mayer and host Alicia Keys accepted it for him, leading to an awkward moment where neither seemed to know what to do with the award afterwards. Glover, like Drake and Kendrick Lamar, declined the invitation to perform.

As for Rihanna, she does not seem to be too focused on her musical career at the moment; instead, she has been spending more time developing and promoting her makeup and lingerie brands. Fans wait in speculation of when the artist will release new music, but seeing that she did not attend the music celebration, the future is undetermined.

It is strange to think artists would opt to not be seen at one of the most monumental social events of the year. They have their reasons we mere mortals struggle to understand, such as how Grande could miss accepting her first Grammy. Despite this, these absentees were the loudest voices of the night. How true that a person’s own self-worth is more important than other people’s acceptance.

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The Absentee Paradox: Analyzing the 2019 Grammy’s Low Attendance