Why Silk Sonic’s Decision to Withdraw From the 2023 Grammy Awards Was Smart

silk sonic grammys

Bruno Mars and .Anderson Paak, the duo behind the retro soul-funk duo Silk Sonic, made waves last week when they announced they would be withdrawing their music from consideration for the 2023 Grammy Awards.

This came after the duo dominated the 2022 ceremony, taking home four trophies for their debut single “Leave the Door Open,” including Record and Song of the Year.

Silk Sonic were big favorites in our 2023 Grammy predictions to take home even more awards, now that their full-length album An Evening With Silk Sonic was eligible.

But Mars released a statement to Rolling Stone pulling the duo from Grammy consideration. “We truly put our all on this record, but Silk Sonic would like to gracefully, humbly and most importantly, sexually, bow out of submitting our album this year,” he said. “We hope we can celebrate with everyone on a great year of music and partake in the party. Thank you for letting Silk Sonic thrive.”

Mars added, “Andy and I, and everyone that worked on this project, won the moment the world responded to ‘Leave The Door Open.’ Everything else was just icing on the cake. “We thank the Grammys for allowing us to perform on their platform — not once but twice — and awarding us at last year’s ceremony. We’d be crazy to ask for anything more.”

Reaction to Silk Sonic’s decision has varied. Some gave the duo kudos for graciously stepping aside to allow other artists a chance to take the spotlight. Others more cynically claimed the decision was made because Mars didn’t think he would win Album of the Year, and therefore wanted to avoid losing.

The truth is likely neither of those scenarios. The most likely motivation for Silk Sonic’s Grammy recusal is that the duo wants to avoid the backlash that would surely come if they win Album of the Year. The 2023 Grammys are widely seen as Beyonce’s opportunity to finally win Album of the Year, and award she has been snubbed for multiple times. The critics, fans, and Grammy watchers in general are all pulling for Beyonce. If she doesn’t win, whoever does take the trophy will likely receive a great deal of online vitriol.

We saw this in 2017, when Adele’s 25 beat out Beyonce’s Lemonade. In accepting the award, Adele apologized to Beyonce, saying she thought Bey should have won. Backstage, Adele was even more direct, saying, “I thought it was her year. What the f— does she have to do to win album of the year?”

We’ve also seen backlash in recent years when Billie Eilish won each of the Big Four awards, and when she won Record of the Year again a year later.

Silk Sonic definitely could’ve won Album of the Year if they were nominated, given the level of Recording Academy support they got in 2022. And beating Beyonce would’ve caused a great deal of outrage. So they did the smart thing and avoided the drama by withdrawing.

Mars himself already won Album of the Year in 2018 for 24K Magic. That win generated some backlash itself, since Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN was the critical favorite that year.

Withdrawing means that Mars gets to maintain his likability and coolness. While a few pop music fans have grown tired of Mars, he’s still more respected and liked than some of his contemporaries like Ed Sheeran, whose music isn’t viewed as seriously as it once was due to his deliberate efforts to create pop hits.

So all in all, Silk Sonic’s decision to skip the 2023 Grammys was a wise one. They already got their big Grammy moment last year, and they never have to deal with the onslaught of criticism that will be heaped upon whoever beats Beyonce in 2023.

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