Probably someone you were not expecting, a decision you will most likely disagree with.
I want to make this very clear: I did not watch the Grammys. I think the red carpet reveals are gratuitous and offensive at times, the pomp and circumstance is annoying and unnecessary and I can find all of the performances and results online immediately after the program ends. I’m not a fan of this awards show, not even in the slightest. This might seem strange to you considering that music is such a huge part of my life, but give me some time to explain.
Album of the Year is regarded as the most prestigious award of the entire program, and understandably. But how could you possibly judge the best album of the entire year and present to them an award for supreme performance when the standards for what make each specific genre spectacular are completely different? The answer is simple: You can’t, even if you try. You have to at least entertain the thought that what is chosen as the best album in any given year isn’t actually the best album of the year as it was released or will be remembered over time.
So who are these swindlers who think they have the power to dictate what history will remember as the purported “best” album of the year according to the Grammys? These people are the proverbial and amorphous Recording Academy Voting Members. This group is comprised of over 14 thousand people that are music industry professionals, including songwriters, musicians, producers and many others. Each voting member gets up to 15 votes for the genre categories and are directed to vote on only the categories they have technical expertise in. Each member also gets to vote in each of the four general categories: Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist. This takes place for both the nominating phase and the final voting stage.
The winners in each of the genre categories are typically inconsequential, and there is rarely major public outcry. Considering that experts in these genres are supposed to have voted on these albums, songs and performances, this makes sense. In contrast, winners for the general categories are also almost always controversial. All of the academy members, no matter their proficiency, are voting in these categories, voting on albums, songs, and performances they likely have no interest or concern for. This is the Grammys’ fatal flaw.
In 2012, Adele won over Rihanna for Album of the Year. Mumford and Sons won over Frank Ocean in 2013 and in 2014, the academy chose Daft Punk over Kendrick Lamar. Beyonce lost to Beck in 2015, Kendrick Lamar lost once again to Taylor Swift in 2016 and Beyonce lost another time to Adele this year.
This has been the sixth year in a row that a more creative albeit edgy hip-hop album has lost to a more simplistic and unoriginal one. Three of these have been bested by a completely unexpected wildcard artist. Beyonce and Lamar are astronomically talented, yet they’ve both been snubbed twice in the past four years. Even Adele in her acceptance speech this year admitted that Beyonce should have won instead.
Hip-hop artists are being ignored by the academy at large. I feel like I shouldn’t have the authority to make this statement, considering that just a short time ago I despised this genre. It contains a delicate nuance and gritty soul that I failed to recognize in my youth. Hip-hop is provocative by nature. It’s not supposed to be comfortable. It’s supposed to light a fire under your rear end and force you to confront very important social and poltical issues. If the inherently flawed nature of academy voting doesn’t automatically make the Grammys irrelevant, its failure to recognize hip-hop as culturally significant should.