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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Grammys aren’t just Taylor Swift’s night

Swift stole other artists’ spotlight
Taylor Swift accepts the Grammy award for Album of the Year on Feb. 4. Swift’s album announcement during the ceremony was a selfish choice and took the attention away from other artists. (AP Photo | Chris Pizzello)

It was a warm September night in 2009, reaching almost 70 degrees, when some famous words were spoken by an even more famous man.

New York City’s Radio City Music Hall was aglow with celebs, and the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” was at the top of the Billboard charts. 

In the year of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” Pink’s “So What” and Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold,” one music video was destined to create music history: Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me.”

In a sparkling silver dress that flowed over her left shoulder, Swift took the stage to accept the award at the 2009 VMAs in one of the most contentious categories of the night: Best Female Video. 

“So, thank you so much for giving me a chance to win a VMA award,” Swift said to the audience, unaware of the figure walking up onto stage. 

The rest is history:

Chicago rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, fresh off the success of his groundbreaking “808s and Heartbreak,” stops Swift mid-speech.

“Yo Taylor, I- I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time, one of the best videos of all time,” Ye said. 

A 10-year veteran to the music industry, 12 Grammys deep, Ye stole the coming out moment – sorry Gaylor fans – and the welcome to fame moment from a new up-and-comer, someone who had their whole career ahead of them.

At that time a calm professional, Swift, stunned, let him finish, took the microphone back and went on her way, award in hand. 

Now, why are we rehashing the start of the long and excellent career of pop sensation Taylor Swift, you may ask. 

Well, she did something markedly similar at the 66th Grammys on Feb. 4. 

While, no, she didn’t stand on the stage and steal any new upstarts’ moment of glory, it’s clear from the media representation – even the Northern Star’s own coverage – was dominated by the news of the “Dead Poets Society,” I mean “The Tortured Poets Department.” 

The first award we mentioned in our coverage was one of Swift’s two awards of the night, followed immediately by talking about the announcement of her newest album. 

While Swift did take home two awards, she was nowhere near the most awarded. 

Phoebe Bridgers won four between her collaboration with SZA and Bridger’s trio boygenius. 

SZA herself was one of the most awarded of the night, taking home three of her nine nominations, the most nominations of any attendee.

If we’re highlighting young musicians prepped for a take-off, Victoria Monét’s three wins should certainly be of note.

Swift was one of nine artists to take home two awards. Nothing to scoff at but certainly not the most newsworthy of the night.

Yes, she also did make history with her fourth Album of the Year win. But, this piece wouldn’t exist if that’s the part everyone was talking about.

Rather, by announcing her album at the Grammys, an event for celebrating past musical achievements and the artistry of the best in the industry, Swift, always conscious of her career and image, decided to take the attention of the biggest night in the music industry and make it all about her.

Now, will I say that Swift doesn’t make good music or that she’s a bad singer? No. 

I like some of her music. I have repeatedly heralded her writing ability, specifically the way she is able to maintain a youthful touch in all of her songs, ensuring they connect with teens and people looking back on their teenage years. 

On top of that, I will always say her marketing is easily the best in the industry. 

Most importantly, I’m very distantly related to Swift. 

However you mark it up though, Swift – my 13th cousin twice removed – stole the moment of up-and-coming artists and chose to make it about herself. 

The Grammys this year were not about young stars and their biggest accomplishments: No one is talking about Victoria Monét, a young Black woman with three Grammys under her belt. No one is talking about Killer Mike sweeping the rap category, getting arrested and finding out that his son was approved for a kidney transplant after waiting over three years. No one is talking about the first wins of childhood icons Miley Cyrus and Leon Thomas III. 

As someone who has had the spotlight stolen from her, Swift more than anyone should know this is not the right thing to do. 

Instead, she put her career over everything and everyone else.

She didn’t let people have their night of glory. She didn’t let people have their roses. She didn’t let presenter Céline Dion celebrate the award with her – though, her marketing team got on that one quickly with a clearly staged backstage photo. 

More than anything though, I can’t fathom taking the one day of reflection and making it about my career, my success, my album. 

But, anyway.

Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you. 

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