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INSIDE BASEBALL:
THE GRAMMYS DON’T KNOW BO

No joke: The Grammy cabal has done it again.

The exclusion of Bo Burnham’s Inside (Imperial/Republic) from two key categories may not be as splashy as Kaceygate, but it’s a further illustration of how a clique of inner-circle operators can, in secret, exclude vital work in the course of serving their own agendas.

We felt strongly that Burnham deserved to be considered for Best New Artist. Inside, a collection of songs from his powerful Netflix special, is the only album on the cultural radar that deals directly and deeply with life during the pandemic. It’s a stunning work, capturing the anxiety, sorrow, torpor and absurdity of this moment. It signaled the arrival of a crucial voice, despite Burnham’s prior work.

It’s also hilariously funny, which is why it unquestionably deserved to be acknowledged in the Comedy Album category as well. But guess what? It was bounced from consideration there and moved to Best Compilation Soundtrack.

Then Burnham was removed from consideration for BNA on the grounds that he’d already “come to prominence.” Since his visibility prior to this show, apart from some (impressive) film work, was almost entirely from comedy specials, it would seem Grammy was arguing that he was a prominent figure in comedy. So why was his album excluded from that category? Either he's prominent or he's not—you can't have it both ways.

Specifics aside, we have to ask: Why is a creator who's doing important, innovative work getting pushed out of exactly the places where he should be celebrated? The obvious conclusion is that it’s because he'd win, so cabal members who represent competing projects whacked him.

If all the sanctimonious Grammy blahblah about honoring worthy recordings and striving for transparency were true, this would never have happened to an artist as bold as Burnham or to an album as essential as Inside.

That’s some pretty bleak comedy.

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