The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted showrunners from various awards bodies to rethink their respective awards ceremonies. On Sunday night, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences took up the challenge, offering music fans an entirely new way to engage with other music lovers and be part of the conversation by launching a digital fan experience called Grammy Debates, an artificial intelligence debate sponsored by IBM Watson on the Grammy website.
This allowed viewers around the world to participate in 36-word summaries composed of opinions and viewpoints about music. IBM Watson analyzed these contributions to determine the most common contributions and topics. IBM is working with the Grammys for the fourth time and the first year that the AI-curated debates were part of the show.
The move by the Academy was seen as a good development for the Recording Academy, as the Grammys have been constantly criticized for being old-fashioned and out of touch with the changing music landscape.
But the show, hosted by comedian Trevor Noah, contained some elements that would blunt the criticism of being “out of touch” or “behind the times.” “I Can’t Breathe” – a tribute to George Floyd – won Song of the Year. Some high-profile women earned top honours on the show, with Beyonce becoming the most decorated woman in Grammys history, while Taylor Swift also set a record for being the only female record artist to win Album of the Year three times
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