As a musician, we can only imagine the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into making music. Not only do you have to be talented, but you have to be innovative as the music industry is ever-changing. To award you for your hard work, of course, a check is always the go-to, but a Grammy sitting on your shelf hits differently. The shiny piece of metal sitting on a stand means more to some than a bank account full of money. No, we’re not judging as we’re proud of all of the 2020 Grammy nominees, but what is important here is to discuss how subjective music is and how award shows may not be the best way to judge musicology and the emotion put into the music-making process and or how it’s received by its audience.
The first Grammy Award ceremony was held May 4th, 1954. Its purpose was to honor the accomplishments of songwriters, producers, and performing artists for their work of the previous year. The award, dictated by the Recording Academy, is presented in usual award show fashion with presenters announcing the winners and nominees. As the show has grown in popularity, we look forward to the commentary on social media along with the major performances from our favorite artists. The Grammys is one of the three big major music awards held annually, along with the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards. But there’s something about the Grammys that are most sought after.
While most new artists would just like a glimpse of their own trophy, more established artists have walls of them which question the need for more. Georg Solti holds the record of having 31, Quincy Jones at 28, Beyonce at 23, Jay Z at 22 and Kayne West at 22. One of the most controversial categories, the best new artist, seems to always cause an uproar on the internet, leaving most done with the category after Alessia Cara won in 2018 over fan-favorite SZA. You start to wonder, what really goes into the judgment of each category? Some say it’s a curse as some were never able to recreate the same success from the year they won, and for others, it’s a blessing. The criteria and judging points are as follows, according to the website:
To be eligible in the category of Best New Artist, the artist, duo, or group:
- Must have released a minimum of five singles/tracks or one album, but no more than 30 singles/tracks or three albums.
- May not have entered into this category more than three times, including as a performing member of an established group.
- Must have achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape during the eligibility period.
Yes, you read our minds: it’s vague
Because we’re sitting in the audience (from our couch) who are we truly to judge when it comes to these awards? But in reality, music’s complex subjectivity comes into play when it’s seen as these artists are the “best” when in all, music shouldn’t be judged. At the Soul Train awards, Ari Lennox spoke out about her loss of best album, which sparked a conversation about what really goes into it. Along with the Grammys, the process is anonymous, according to their website: A list of the top twenty artists is given to the Nominations Review Committee, a specially selected group of anonymous members, who then select the top five artists to gain a nomination in the category in a special ballot. Members then vote (based on what) for a winner.
Let’s face it: regardless if our favorite wins or loses, the Grammys holds a special place in the heart of the artists. The controversy, stipulations, and rumors behind it aren’t the future of musicology, the content is. By continuing to stan our favorites, we can show that a piece of metal is only worthy to those who seek it, but true fandom and support comes from the communities surrounding the artists.
Are we watching the Grammys this Sunday? Of course. We wouldn’t miss Lizzo’s performance along with Billie Ellish and Gwen Stefani along with the tribute to Prince and his greatness. But, we will leave the winners up to the awards and the fans to decide who’s truly the best in the music industry.