Mars Grammy wins stir up controversy

They say rap has finally passed rock in popularity among modern music fans. But someone forgot to tell Bruno Mars. The pop star cleaned up at the Grammy Awards, taking home all six awards for which he was nominated, including best song, best record, and album of the year. Not a bad haul in the year rap was supposed to, finally, reign supreme.

That’s not to say rap had a rough night. Superstar rapper Kendrick Lamar took home five awards, leaving rapper and mogul, Jay-Z to go home empty. But, regardless of rap’s big showing and a surprise cameo from Hillary Clinton, the Grammy’s belonged to Mars.

The singer spent some time during one acceptance speech marveling at how far he’d come, sharing with the audience memories of performing old school R&B hits for tourists, watching them dancing together and just having fun. Happiness was a theme in his conversation, and at one point Mars summed up his motivation for performing: “All I ever wanted to do with this album was write songs with nothing but joy…”

And, while joy was certainly a prominent emotion on the stage and among Mars’ legions of fans, there were more than a few professional and amateur music critics who felt Lamar got robbed. They made their opinions known on social media during and immediately following the awards broadcast.

Countless rap fans felt Lamar got slighted, that he had the better album and should have won at least that award, if not others Mars took home. Some are blaming too-high expectations for the angry response to Mars’ wins. For days leading up to the Grammys, many pop culture and music reporters teased the show as rap’s coming out party. Lamar was expected to elevate the craft above the height achieved even by superstars like Eminem and Dr. Dre. He would win, and win and win and win.

That idea was bolstered by Lamar’s hard-hitting performance to open the show. Fans were on the edge of their seats, filled with expectation. Then Lamar started winning: once, twice … five times. But he was shut out of the biggest awards of the night. Fans saw trophies in the biggest categories go to the guy many are calling the second coming of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. That throwback tip of the hat to pop-rock was not lost on Lamar’s fans.

Lamar did clean up in the rap category, and his opening performance was a big hit with viewers in the room and at home. But what many thought would be his night turned out to belong, once again, to Bruno Mars.

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.


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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.