The 2024 Grammys saw a significant increase in women’s representation in major categories, with every televised competitive Grammy going to at least one woman. Some women earned their first Grammys, including Miley Cyrus, Victoria Monét, Lainey Wilson, and Karol G. Paramore, who became the first rock band fronted by a woman to win best rock album, while Taylor Swift became the first artist to win album of the year four times and is still the only woman to ever win more than twice.
The Recording Academy has made considerable changes to its programming in the post-Portnow years, attempting to better reflect the current musical climate. Recently, more than 2,400 music creators joined the voting bloc, with 50% being people of color, 46% under the age of 40, and 37% being women. Recording Academy CEO and President Harvey Mason Jr. theorized that the number of women nominated was a direct result of a lot of changes that have been made at the academy, something echoed by Swift while accepting her first award of the night.
However, the question then becomes: was this year a fluke, the result of an all-star year of women who couldn’t be ignored, a correction, symbolic of some systemic shift, or something else entirely? The only real televised criticism came from Jay-Z, the lone man awarded solo on the telecast (Finneas also won a televised Grammy, alongside his sister, Billie Eilish). His acceptance speech for the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award began by shouting out the rap legends that came before him, but then switched focus to Beyoncé, who last year became the most decorated artist in Grammy history, with 32 trophies.
Emily Lordi, a Vanderbilt University professor focusing on African American literature and black popular music, says there is value in examining the intersections of race and feminism at the Grammys. This year, two women—SZA, for her critically acclaimed and groundbreaking “SOS,” and Janelle Monae, for her innovative treatise on sensuality and freedom, “The Age of Pleasure,” were up for album of the year. If one of them had taken it home, the winner would have become the first black woman to do so since Lauryn Hill published “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” in 1999.
Lordi notes that while there’s much to celebrate about the 2024 Grammys, we also need to keep thinking intersectionally and critically about which women are being honored and for what.