BY EMMA HUERTA
2020 was a big year for R&B musician The Weeknd. The release of his latest album, “After Hours,” in March earned him widespread praise and critical acclaim.
In fact, “Blinding Lights,” track nine on the album, broke the record for most weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. It was also deemed the top song of 2020 on the streaming service Spotify, and The Weeknd himself is currently the fifth most popular artist on the platform.
With such a stellar record (no pun intended) from the past year, one would anticipate that The Weeknd would snag a ton of awards this season, particularly at the highly-anticipated Grammy Awards. However, the artist, his fans and music aficionados alike were all disappointed to find out that The Weeknd was not nominated for a single Grammy by the Recording Academy.
While this current household name in modern pop music was not even nominated, tragically subpar and borderline-ridiculous releases from Coldplay, Justin Bieber, and others somehow were.
As shocking as it seems, this kind of conundrum is not new to award shows, and especially the Grammys. There are plenty of other artists– including legends like Queen, Snoop Dogg, ABBA, Nas, and more– that have never won one of those popular awards. These discrepancies are representative of the pure absurdity that award shows are.
The actual Grammys Award process has been labeled on a number of occasions as corrupted, even by former Recording Academy head Deborah Dugan, who went so far as to filing a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the organization in 2019. Along with this, award shows have evolved into pure manifestations of popularity contests in light of a corrupted music industry, one in which sales and image override actual music quality.
This has been made incredibly clear with singer Beyonce’s various “Album of the Year” snubs, specifically when she lost the accolade to Beck in 2015 and Adele in 2017. Although these two artists had permissible releases in their respective years, Beyonce’s constant demolition of barriers in music earned her the top accolade in many people’s books. Adele herself even thought the same, reportedly snapping her award in half to share it with “Queen Bey.” When it comes down to the results, the Grammys tend to go for the safe, marketable option, rather than music that actually challenged and innovated the status quo.
Along with this, award shows have evolved into pure manifestations of popularity contests in light of a corrupted music industry, one in which sales and image override actual music quality.
Not only are popular awards shows suspicious, but some of their awards and categories themselves are strange, to say the least. For example, the Grammys had a category entitled, “Best Urban Contemporary Album,” an ambiguous ‘genre’ term (if it can even be referred to as such) that the organization seemed to implement in order to pack all the Black nominees into one box.
It wasn’t until musician Tyler, The Creator called out the contemptuous connotation behind this category when he won the award in 2020 that the Grammys dropped it entirely. If not for his bold comment, this uncomfortable distinction would have stayed separating artists of color from main categories, and thus facilitating an unfair and incomplete evaluation of the best music.
If there were just one thing to take away from this article, it would be a warning to take award shows like the Grammys with a grain of salt—a very minuscule, microscopic grain. After all, the best possible interpretation of great music is often one’s own, especially by escaping the mainstream and finding quality without commercial quantity.
These ceremonies prove time and time again that they are not representative of the best music via their ulterior motives and painfully awful judgements. In hindsight, the Grammys are a joke that should not be taken seriously.
Photo courtesy of the Grammy Awards