I’d like to correct my previous statement that the 2024 Grammys were uneventful—they were not. As is typical of awards shows, the happenings worth talking about only became clear after the partying was done. What’s mostly been swirling around my corner of the internet is Taylor Swift acting a fool, especially in her awkward backstage interaction with boygenius.
On a night that ended up being about celebrating women in their prime and spreading the wealth, Swift couldn’t concede the spotlight. She pulled focus with her awkward dancing while Tracy Chapman made her triumphant return; she barely acknowledged Celine Dion as she snatched her winnings from her; she started her first acceptance speech of the night for Best Pop Vocal Album with “This is my 13th Grammy,” which excited her because 13 is her lucky number, then said something about how she’d only won because of her fans, before throwing them the bone of The Tortured Poets Department.
She won Album of the Year for Midnights, which surprised even the Swiftiest of Swifties, making her the winningest woman in Grammys history, or something like that. Meanwhile, boygenius took home three trophies: Best Rock Performance…
…Best Rock Song…
…and Best Alternative Album…
and literally skipped to the microphone and commenced to cry about how much it all meant to them before confirming that they were going on an indefinite hiatus, or in Bridgers’s words, “walk[ing] into the sunset.”
“This is funny because I guess we just didn’t tell anybody, but we told each other at the beginning of this project that it would have a finite date, like a finite amount of time devoted to it,” she said in response to a question about the hiatus.
“We put the record into the world and that’s enough,” Julien Baker said.
“That’s why we’ve been, like, showing up and working so hard is we knew we didn’t have to sustain it,” Lucy Dacus added.
It was during that same interview that Bridgers told ex-president of the recording academy, Neil Portnow, to “rot in piss” in response to his previous statement about women artists needing to “step up” if they want to be awarded for their music.
There are countless people, but how can they break through when Taylor Swift won’t stop?
Therein lies the difference between artists like Swift and artists like boygenius: one is art for fan’s sake—aka art for fame’s sake—and one is art for art’s sake. boygenius made their art, they were acknowledged for it, and now they’re stepping aside so someone else can have a turn.
Dacus put it more eloquently:
“Throughout this year different people have told us that we represent different things to them, but I think that if we represent anything, it’s that you can determine the circumstances of your own creation … You might feel like you’re going to miss your big-ticket moment. You’re not. And even if you got your big ticket, if you did it alongside people that you can’t celebrate, it’s going to feel hollow.”
“Make it with people you like or don’t do it,” Bridgers added.
One has to wonder if it’s lonely at the top for Swift, with all those big tickets piling up. She’s made music with Del Rey and Bridgers and Haim and now Florence + the Machine on the new album, but the celebration is all her own. Even in those and other collaborations, she has a history of not giving her fellow artists too much time to shine. She had to rerelease a version of “Snow On The Beach” with “More Lana Del Rey.” Young artists like Olivia Rodrigo grow up idolizing her and then have to concede credit to her for their art because it was maybe a little loosely inspired by hers.
It’s too bad she didn’t announce the rerelease of Reputation like her fans thought, because amongst people like me—casual admirers of her work—her reputation has never been worse. For an artist so obsessed with reinventing herself, the schtick is getting old.