The Grammys Are Still Irrelevant, Here’s Four Reasons Why
Another Grammy Awards ceremony has come and gone and for those of you wondering if the Grammys have become significant other than causing a short boost in sales for artists who already have large sales numbers… no, they haven’t. The Arts Directors break down why the Grammys remain one of American music’s most embarrassing and useless institutions.
The Grammys aren't truly ready to address the problems facing America...but the music is
When you look through the past few years of the Grammys, one theme becomes abundantly clear: the Grammys are not comfortable with awarding music that faces the toughest issues facing America. In 2016, Kendrick Lamar lost to Taylor Swift for Album of the Year. Lamar lost again in 2018 to Bruno Mars, even though he toned down some of the clear undertones of racial inequality and police brutality in America. Their discomfort is not just limited to hip hop though. Father John Misty and his politically charged Pure Comedy did not win Best Alternative Album. The Grammys were okay with nominating it, but are too afraid to give an album that was objectively better than its competition because Josh Tillman looked at Americans, including descriptions of people who vote on the Grammys, and told them everything that is wrong with them. Honesty is not valued at the Grammys, just how many records you sell. But hey, at least Pure Comedy, with its cautionary fears of late stage capitalism, won Best Record Packing. Also known as “who turned their art into a consumable product the best” award.
The Grammys don't value hip hop
What does Kendrick Lamar have to do to win the Grammy for Album of the Year? You ask noted reviewer Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop and he would tell you “fix global warming.” It just seems like the guy cannot catch a break despite sweeping the rap categories. Not even JAY-Z and all of the love he seems to get from the Grammys could snag a major award. Hip hop is now the most popular genre, yet still cannot win one of the major awards. No, you’re right Grammy committee. Beck and Taylor Swift is who everyone wants to see winning the major category awards, not Kendrick Lamar. With that said, this year may have been one of the strongest when it comes to the major categories, but the Recording Academy needs to look Kendrick Lamar in the face and tell him what Beck, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars are doing so much better than him that he is not winning these awards. Hip hop should have more than two Album of the Years to their name by now.
The Grammys hold women to higher standards unless your Taylor Swift, Adele or Beyoncé
As pointed out by Janelle Monáe, in the last five years of the Grammys, women only made up 9.3 percent of the nominees. A mere nine women won broadcasted Grammys on Sunday and while arguments prior to the show could be made that subjectively their competition released better music, wins by the likes of Bruno Mars over Lorde and SZA, or Ed Sheeran over Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey solidify objectively worse releases were given awards over women. As far as nominations, for Arcade Fire to grab a nomination in the alternative category over female artists like Alvvays or Chelsea Wolfe is embarrassing. There is some credence in the excuse that since social norms push women away form the arts, then statistically there will be less of a chance for women to be nominated than men. But when the Grammys perpetuate the problem by supporting subpar male artists and only reward women who release the equivalent of a Lemonade as a minimum bar for entry, they become part of the problem, not a symptom of it.
The Grammys reflect where music has been, but not where it’s going
No one is going to argue that the synth funk stylings of 24K Magic aren’t catchy as hell, but can we really call an album that recycles what Michael Jackson, Prince, Rick James and George Clinton have been doing since the early 80s the best that music has to offer in 2017? By its very nature musical taste is subjective, so trying to establish the best music released is nearly impossible. What is not subjective is the importance that experimentation and ingenuity play in the evolution of an art form, to which the Grammys couldn't care less about. While the Oscars and the Emmys are inarguably rigged by their respective industry leaders, they at least rig the winners to be artistically relevant and forward thinking. Outside of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Thriller, the Grammys have not rewarded albums with any semblance of new ideas the Album of the Year award regularly since 1978. For some reason, these albums have often been relegated to the “Alternative Music” category. This dangerous and abhorrent classification that somehow artistically significant music should not be considered “normal” music is the kind of attitude that can kill a culture’s appreciation of the arts, which is already occurring in our nation’s public schools. If the Grammys truly want to just run a popularity contest, just broadcast the Billboard charts on loop in the lower third while the artists perform live instead of wasting everyone’s time.
David Arroyo is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
Senior / Public Relations