Every year, the Grammys award the biggest and best hits of the year while cel­e­brating past icons. At Sunday’s 54th annual show, Adele swept sev­eral of the top awards, artists of pre­vious eras came back to per­form, and all mourned the loss of pop queen Whitney Houston. We asked Emily Cassel, a jour­nalism and music industry stu­dent and editor-​​in-​​chief of the student-​​run Tastemakers Mag­a­zine, how well the Grammys did in hon­oring Houston while handing out awards that high­light the changes occur­ring in the music industry.

How do you think the Grammys han­dled Whitney Houston’s untimely passing?

The news of Whitney Houston’s passing the night before the Grammys cast a bit of a shadow over the show. She’s a legend, and although she went through a lot of tur­moil in her pri­vate life over the years she will cer­tainly be missed.

I thought the tribute by Jen­nifer Hudson was per­fect — simple, ele­gant and tasteful. Hudson’s voice was flaw­less, and her ren­di­tion of Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was extremely moving.

What do this year’s nom­i­nees tell us about the changing music industry? For example, a DJ was nom­i­nated for best new artist for the first time in Grammy his­tory.

Last night’s nom­i­nees and per­formers demon­strated the increasing pop­u­larity of elec­tronica and dub­step Not only was dub­step artist Skrillex nom­i­nated for five awards, but DJ David Guetta and electro-​​house pro­ducer Deadmau5 also per­formed.

I think this shows that the industry is finally taking dance and elec­tronic music seri­ously. It’s not just some­thing kids listen to in clubs any­more, but a style of music that’s taken the world by storm and has really become com­mer­cially viable. I don’t think any­thing dis­plays that better than watching a rock-​​and-​​roll icon like Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl get­ting down to some Deadmau5 at the Grammys.

Some of the artists nom­i­nated for top honors — such as record of the year and best pop vocal album — have had con­sid­er­able Top 40 suc­cess, but crit­i­cally have received mixed reviews. Should pop­u­larity be heavily fac­tored into nom­i­na­tions, or should lesser known artists be given a fair shot?

As the editor-​​in-​​chief of a mag­a­zine with fairly indie ten­den­cies (and having rel­a­tively indie ten­den­cies myself), I would def­i­nitely like to see some of the incred­ibly tal­ented but more obscure musi­cians that are out there get their shot at a Grammy. And I think that some­times the voters do sup­port lesser-​​known artists; for example, last night Bon Iver took home the Best New Artist Grammy.

How­ever, I also think that fea­turing pop­ular, com­mer­cially suc­cessful artists is a large part of what makes the Grammys the Grammys. People aren’t going to tune in to the show if they haven’t heard of any of the artists who were nom­i­nated or sched­uled to per­form. There are other award shows — mtvU’s Woodie Awards, for example — that give smaller artists a chance to shine.