The Game Behind the Grammys


Design By: Piatkowski

While The Weeknd accomplished the unbelievable with the incredible reception of After Hours and the unbelievable thirteen-week chart-topping run of “Blinding Lights,” what many people truly consider to be the most surprising thing to befall the artist this year is his utter lack of Grammy nominations. 

Since its creation in 1959, the Grammy Awards have risen to become the pinnacle of achievement in the field of music. January of next year marks the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, featuring a lineup of nominated musicians including the likes of Dua Lipa, Post Malone and Taylor Swift to name a few. The shocking absence of The Weeknd from this list has led many to question the integrity of the awards. 

The prevailing theory regarding The Weeknd’s Grammy snub has to do with the fact that he was originally set to perform at the Grammy Awards and then the Super Bowl Halftime Show in the following week. Many suspect that the Recording Academy did not offer him the nomination so as to prevent his Grammy performance from being overshadowed by the Super Bowl. 

The Weeknd is not the first to highlight the controversy behind the Grammys, however. Among the most significant accusations against the Grammys is racial bias. The first race scandal to come to mind regarding the Grammys is Mackelmore’s win for The Heist over Kanye West’s Yeezus, Drake’s Nothing Was the Same, Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail and the album who many, including Mackelmore, felt deserved the win; Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city. Though The Heist saw great success that year, good kid, m.A.A.d. city is hailed, even today, as a musical masterpiece that discusses the contrast between Lamar and the gang violence that surrounded him growing up in Compton. Many suggest that Mackelmore, as a white rapper, beat out these legendary rappers for Best Rap Album because of his easily censored and commercially palatable version of rap music that has roots in the most honest aspects of black culture in America. 

Similarly, Tyler, the Creator slammed the Grammys for winning Best Rap Album for his album IGOR which Tyler identified as being better suited for the pop or alternative category. Tyler went on to say that black artists are constricted to the rap category and that the term “urban” describing the urban contemporary category is just another euphemism for “overtly black.” 

Beyond issues with race, the Grammys have also been accused of sexism. In addition to the previously glaring lack of female nominations and allegations of sexism within the Recording Academy that runs the Grammys, the bias against female artists was first brought into question in 2015 when Beyoncé’s ever-popular fifth studio album lost to Beck’s Morning Phase for Album of the Year. 

As the number of Grammy scandals continue to increase the biggest failure of the Recording Academy seems to be its response to these accusations. Following Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy snub in 2014, the Academy has attempted to placate fans and viewers by awarding him many arguably less-deserved awards for his work in the following years. Likewise, many people argue that Cardi B’s Best Rap Album win for Invasion of Privacy over the recently deceased Mac Miller’s Swimming and fan-favorite Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD was a poor attempt to cover up their past accusations of sexism by awarding a female artist a male-dominated award. 

To uphold its reputation as the epitome of musical awards, many viewers have called upon the Grammys to be more transparent regarding the manner in which it chooses its nominees and winners. As a televised yet prestigious awards show, the Recording Academy struggles to effectively straddle the line between basing their awards on quality or popularity of music. Ultimately, the Grammys must learn to adapt to not only the evolving music industry, but the progressive expectations of its fans.