Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Pop music is now the whitest it’s been in 35 years

Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson

In news that shouldn’t surprise anyone, new research has proved that the Grammys—and pop music in general—are the whitest they’ve been in 35 years. Vocativ charted Grammy nominations by race since 1959 and found a distinct dip in recognition for minority candidates over approximately the last five to seven years. White candidates, in turn, have seen their slumping nomination rate perk up.


The social justice-leaning site also charted Billboard Hot 100 artists by race since 1965, making a fairly similar chart. The site attributes some of the decline of black hits on the end of the civil rights era and the rise of the disco inferno, interestingly enough, noting that Michael Jackson was responsible for a lot of both the hits and Grammy nominations throughout the ’80s and early ’90s. As Vocativ points out, “ by 1989, the number of black artists nominated (13) actually exceeded the number of white artists nominated (7) for the first time.”

Something happened with both the Hot 100 chart and Grammy nominations in the mid ’00s, however, and black artists started declining again. That’s only gotten worse over time, and in 2013 there wasn’t a single black artist with a No. 1 single on the Hot 100. A black artist hasn’t won a Grammy in any of the four major categories—Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist—since 2010.

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