The annual Grammy Awards are known as music’s most important night. Earning an award, or even a nomination, from the event is seen as the ultimate achievement for musicians. Other music award shows, such as the American Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards, often include fan voted categories. The Grammys differ from other programs due to their nominees and winners being chosen by the Recording Academy, rather than the public. The process has allowed the Grammys to uphold a prestigious reputation. However, this process, and those involved, have not gone without criticism from the public.
Music listeners have criticized the criteria, or lack thereof, that the Recording Academy use for the awards. Members of the academy have given hypocritical reasons as to why they picked winners, a recent example being the justification of this year’s Album of the Year winner.
Taylor Swift took the award home for her album “Midnights,” the academy stated that they felt that Swift deserved the honor not only for the album itself, but for the explosive year that the artist had.
Swift has been a powerhouse in the music industry for over a decade; the public could not escape seeing her name in 2023 due to her stadium tour, new music releases and album re-releases. The singer is arguably more popular than ever, receiving numerous achievements and awards in the past year alone. It is easily understandable why the academy would decide that Swift deserved to take home the biggest of the night, but some were confused by their logic.
Confusion swept the internet because the same justification was used to explain why Beyonce did not receive Album of the Year at the 2023 Grammy Awards. Members of the academy shared they felt that since Beyonce had already seen ample success in other aspects of her career, including winning other smaller Grammy categories, they should grant the main award to another nominee. This has rekindled a conversation that transpires nearly every year after the awards, especially within recent years. The academy’s reasoning was not the only thing to spark this conversation, another catalyst being Beyonce’s husband himself, Jay-Z.
After receiving the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, Jay-Z’s used his speech time to criticize the academy’s tendency to ignore Black musician’s work when it comes to the bigger categories, specifically Album of the Year.
“I don’t want to embarrass this young lady, but she has more Grammys than everyone and never won Album of the Year. So even by your own metrics, that doesn’t work,” the rapper stated.
Beyonce made history at last year’s awards for being the most Grammy-awarded artist in history. Despite holding this title, she has never won Album of the Year. The last Black artist to take home the award was Lauryn Hill in 1999, despite many Black artists having chart topping projects since then. The concern with Album of the Year winners is not the only issue the public is taking with the Grammys, but rather the overall exclusion of minority artists from the big awards.
Many viewers believe that the awards would rather create new categories to avoid nominating more minorities in the more notable categories. The most glaring example of this was Tyla’s win at this year’s ceremony. The singer’s song “Water” took the internet and charts by storm after its release. It spent 21 weeks in the Billboard Top 100, the song spending 12 of those weeks being in the top ten. However, rather than nominating Tyla for record or song of the year, the Grammys created a brand-new category dubbed Best African Music Performance.
The accusations of racial bias in the Grammy Awards have been in discussion for decades, but as years progress watchers seem to be less and less forgiving of this pattern. It is not a question of are these artists creating music worthy of receiving notable awards; public approval and chart longevity showcasing that they are, but rather if the academy is willing to put their own prejudices aside.