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Recording Academy awards another legacy pick with Bonnie Raitt for “Just Like That”

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images for The Recording Academy) “Bonnie Raitt received the award for “Song of the Year” at the 63rd Grammy Awards.”

Jake Hogan
Connector Contributor

The Grammys have been held in high regard in the entertainment industry for decades and is known as the biggest night in music. Artists, producers and celebrities alike flock to the red carpet in their formal attire (which is always an event in itself) for a night of highly anticipated performances and a celebration of artistry.

However, everyone was in for a shock when the winner of the “Song of the Year” category was announced, and no one seemed more surprised than winner Bonnie Raitt herself.

At the announcement of Raitt’s name (presented by first lady Jill Biden), silence fell across the room as her song “Just Like That” began to play. Raitt’s jaw dropped in dismay as she realized she had won the award, beating out today’s biggest artists currently ruling the charts. This was especially shocking, as powerhouse songwriters such as Taylor Swift (nominated for her smash hit “All Too Well: Ten Minute Version”) and Beyoncé (for “Break my Soul”) were included in the songwriting category alongside Raitt.

Swift was a fan favorite and my personal pick for the win. “All Too Well” has been a cultural phenomenon since the release of “Red” in 2012, and then again with the release of “Red: Taylor’s Version” in late 2021, along with the ten-minute extended version of the song which was critically acclaimed. Swift also accompanied the chart-topping hit with a short film she wrote and directed, starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. The short film also awarded Swift her second Grammy in the Best Music Video category this year.

It is rare to see an artist aim as high creatively as Swift has. She has been able to consistently write about vulnerable and relatable subjects with such poise that many people consider her to be one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. Rolling Stone has even regarded “All Too Well: Ten Minute Version” as the greatest break-up song ever. It has become a cultural phenomenon, with fans embracing the red scarf included in both the song and music video as a metaphor for overcoming broken relationships and finding oneself. This song is without a doubt a standout in Swift’s discography, and I believe it deserved the win. Every time Swift performs this song live, you can feel the raw emotion behind every single lyric. Earlier footage of Swift from the release of the original in 2012 even shows her choking up during the performances.

One of the most famous parts of the song is the bridge. The stark imagery Taylor uses when she describes feeling like a “crumpled up piece of paper” is devastating and poses a striking visual. Swift is notorious for writing about her own personal life, which elevates the song to new heights as you are inclined to believe every word she sings. Additionally, Sink’s performance in the short film portrays the heartbreak Swift describes in her song beautifully, with a standout scene of Sadie sobbing as Taylor sings, “And you called me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest.”

Raitt is also a legend herself. The blues singer has been a tour de force in the industry since the 1970s. Raitt achieved commercial success with her tenth album, “Nick of Time,” which won the Grammy for album of the year in 1990 and is #230 on Rolling Stone’s “Greatest Album of All Time” list.

There have been countless posts on social media dismissing Raitt’s talent in the aftermath of the Grammys and her win, and I do not believe this to be justified. Raitt has been an influential and significant artist during her time, but I do not think she should have won the Grammy this year. Raitt’s winning song, “Just Like That,” is indeed a touching song that deserves praise. However, the simplicity in the lyrics does not match up to the nuance and power behind Swift’s signature song, leading me to believe the Grammys chose Raitt as simply a legacy pick.

The Recording Academy has been known to do this before as the academy members are known to be older. Yet, I believe there is hope for the new generation of Recording Academy members, with 47% of them being under the age of 40.

With “All Too Well” being a cultural phenomenon that resonates with millions around the world, this song is the obvious and rightful choice for the “Song of the Year” award.

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