Music Features

Even Billie Eilish Didn't Think She Deserved All Those Grammys

Her mix of dread and gratitude at receiving four awards in a row was the perfect reaction to a ridiculous sequence of events.

Billie Eilish has taken home five Grammy awards this year, becoming the second artist in all of history to garner wins in all of the show's "Big Four" categories. (The first was Christopher Cross in 1981).

The 18-year-old wasn't happy about it. "Why?! Wow. So many other songs deserve this," she said after "Bad Guy" won song of the year. "I'm sorry. Thank you so much. This is my first Grammys. I never thought this would happen in my whole life."

That was her second win. By the fourth one, she was naming the person she thought should have won (namely, Ariana Grande). By the last one, she could be seen quietly mouthing "please don't be me" to the camera.

Eilish is very talented, but the fact that she won five times over so many other incredible artists (such as Lana Del Rey, Lizzo, and Ariana Grande) simply solidifies what many already thought: the Grammy awards picks are not accurate representations of taste or talent, not that those things can really be objectively ranked in the first place. Regardless, all of Eilish's wins made for a strange, almost surreal end to the show. And in truth, "Bad Guy" was catchy but not really that world-altering or mind-blowing, and it was far less culturally impactful than—say—"Old Town Road" or "Truth Hurts."

On the other hand, the album that won Eilish al this—When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?—is extremely dark and heavily focuses on drug use and suicidal ideation, so maybe the Grammys are finally catching up to the fact that all of Gen-Z is very depressed because of the sh*tty world Boomers left—and maybe they realize that the youth are the world's best hope for the future—but that seems unlikely. Maybe it's still a victory for the culture that an album beginning with a track about Invisalign could win AOTY.

When has ranking and picking music ever been accurate or universally in tune, though? Eilish's unnecessary five-time win won't take away from the fact that so many artists made incredible work this year, or from the fact that Lana Del Rey went all the way to the mall to pick out a dress for the ceremony, only to go home empty-handed. (Also, Billie would be nothing without Lana, as she's stated previously).

This year's Grammys ceremony was full of highlights, along with a few expected stumbles. They criminally underused BTS during a 30-second feature in an impressive performance of Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road," but also gave us these photos of Namjoon:

There were also incredible performances from H.E.R., Tyler, the Creator, Rosalia, Demi Lovato, and Alicia Keys, and a moving tribute to Nipsey Hussle, as well as many tributes to Kobe Bryant, who passed away this afternoon along with his daughter.

It had awkward moments (Sharon Osbourne introducing rap song of the year and mispronouncing DJ Khaled's name was cringe-worthy, to say the least) and its cute moments (Tyler, the Creator's mom hugging him was heart-warming fuel sufficient for a couple weeks). It felt incoherent, but almost in a good, heart-warming way—at least until Eilish swept the categories in an almost comically repetitive sequence of events.

At least she and her brother Finneas were humble about it. Eilish is super-talented, as are the rest of the people on that stage, but winning a Grammy takes an alchemy of talent, drive, money, connections, and pure luck.

Culture Feature

Drew Brees Exemplifies How NOT to Be a White Ally

The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.

Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."

This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.

Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality

Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.

But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?

Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?

When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.

After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.

Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.

Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.

Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.

For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.