RECORD OF THE YEAR
"Get Lucky," Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
In retrospect, this one seemed like an obvious win: "Royals" was the debut single from a young artist and those hardly win here, "Blurred Lines" was too controversial, and "Radioactive" probably wasn't "real rock" enough (whatever that means) for certain blocs of voters. As for "Locked Out of Heaven," I imagine there are still a number of people waiting for Bruno Mars to really prove himself, even though Unorthodox Jukebox was a legitimately great album and a confident step forward in his development as an artist, and "Locked Out of Heaven" is one of the best Police songs that Sting probably wished he came up with. But "Get Lucky" was the undeniable hit of the summer, even if it never made it to #1: pretty much everyone with any sort of music career covered it, and I doubt there's a soul on this planet that doesn't want to get down and boogie when that opening bass lick comes in. Similar to "Rolling in the Deep" two years ago, it just seems unfathomable that anything else could have won.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
SONG OF THE YEAR
"Royals," Lorde (Ella Yelich-O'Connor and Joel Little, songwriters)
BEST NEW ARTIST
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
The problem is that these arguments put the blame on Macklemore for winning, as if he gave himself the Grammys based on his own voting. But that's not the case; these arguments are pointing blame at the wrong person. Instead, the focus of these arguments should be on The Recording Academy and their long, problematic history with rewarding hip-hop at the Grammys, which, in turn, is a symptom of the music industry's own general attitudes toward hip-hop as a form of creative and commercial music. It's the same problem with the arguments made year after year that the Oscars don't reward enough people of color; that's not necessarily just the fault of AMPAS but rather endemic of a much-larger representation problem in the film industry. Yeah, it's easier to just put on the blame on a single person/institution, because scapegoating has always been the easiest way to "solve" these issues. But doing so oversimplifies a complex problem, one that stretches much farther than one guy from Seattle who won a few arbitrary awards.
By the way, the only other instances of a hip-hop artist winning Best New Artist are Arrested Development (1993) and Lauryn Hill (1999). So the fact that Grammys even picked a hip-hop act over, say, Kacey Musgraves or Ed Sheeran should be considered a minor victory for the genre anyway (no disrespect for either Musgraves or Sheeran intended).
*Many people have cited Yeezus as the deserving winner of Best Rap Album. I obviously think the album is a terrific achievement, and that Kanye made an album that is very much unlike anything that mainstream hip-hop has ever produced (like Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, it's intentionally abrasive and confrontational in a sonically displeasing way). But let's take a moment to look at the harsh truth: there's no way an album like that would have ever won a Grammy, even if Adele had made it. It simply does not appeal to everyone, and with Grammy voters broad appeal matters (not to mention many were probably turned off by the concept). Really, we should all be thanking our lucky stars that Yeezus was even nominated, instead of a more accessible, lesser work.