The Academy of Music have announced this year’s nominees. Photo from NPR.com.
This November, there was an announcement of voting results that divided a nation, with many calling out accusations of fraud, corruption and an outdated system which has left many Americans feeling underrepresented.
Of course, I am talking about this year’s Grammy Awards nominations.
While it feels like the Grammys mess up their nominations every year, never before have there been so many obvious snubs in categories filled with incredibly questionable selections. Yes, Recording Academy voters are entitled to whatever wrong opinions they may collectively have, but they need to clearly define what their modus operandi is before justifying their nominations. Are they celebrating this year’s most popular music, or this year’s most critically acclaimed music or is there only one person actually voting during nominations who just really likes Black Pumas?
Before getting into the nominations as a whole, the biggest controversy from this year was the shutout of The Weeknd’s music. Both the album “After Hours” and single “Blinding Lights” received zero nominations despite setting records for their time spent on the popular music charts. I think this represents multiple things: Grammy voters being out of touch with the public, the Academy being jaded about him performing at the Super Bowl (allegedly) or maybe they genuinely didn’t like it.
More than all of that, however, it represents the historical difficulty for artists of color to receive due praise in the eyes of the Academy, especially Black artists whose music is not defined by a singular genre. The Weeknd’s recent music combines elements of R&B, 80s new wave and psychedelic dream pop, which likely confused voters expecting him to confine his sound to just R&B. It’s an utterly baffling exclusion, and perhaps one of the most obvious snubs in recent memory.
The Album of the Year category is a total nightmare. Albums that have made significant waves in pop culture and brought new sounds to the forefront were tossed to the wayside in favor of … Coldplay and Jacob Collier? Contributions from The Weeknd, Harry Styles, Lady Gaga, Fiona Apple, BTS, Bad Bunny and Mac Miller were all relegated to the minor categories, if given any nominations at all.
The Best New Artist category was also riddled with baffling picks and exclusions. While the inclusion of Phoebe Bridgers, Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat are all great, the rest seem truly out of place. Either they are total non-entities in popular music, or artists like Noah Cyrus and Kaytranada who have seen musical success spanning multiple years. What this category truly lacked was many of the newcomers in hip-hop that have made waves like DaBaby, Roddy Ricch and Don Tolliver.
My last major grievance with this year’s nominations is “Yummy” by Justin Bieber being nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance. Many music fans, including myself, have been wondering why the Recording Academy would reward a song that is so obviously half-baked, underwritten, boring, unpopular with the general public and just plain awful. It’s a decision so egregious that I can only chalk it up to payola. Seriously, this was inexcusable.
If there is anything this year’s nominees have taught us, it’s that you can never truly predict what the Recording Academy will want to reward in a given year, and anyone who thinks they can do it is only fooling themselves. The Grammys over the last 10 years have been less of a bastion of outstanding music and more of a strange hodgepodge of songs and albums that fit into whatever odd criteria voters decide is most fitting.
The solution? Take the Grammys less seriously, like what you like, don’t let this award show convince you that a piece of music is worth more or less than another and try to support the artists you feel are underrepresented.