Grammy Issues: Forget next year’s awards; let’s just watch Blue Ivy instead

By on January 31, 2018


Forget the Grammys. A stream of Blue Ivy Carter being a little badass is all we need. (Screenshot of the Grammys)

You would think that as a person paid to write about music on a weekly basis, I would have spent last Sunday sitting in front of my TV watching the Grammys, if for no other reason than that it would likely provide me with easy content for this week’s column. You would be wrong, because I learned a long time ago that one does not need to sit through over three hours of performances I don’t care about to have award show hot takes. That’s a little thing called being a professional.

Honestly, I can’t think of the last time I actually watched the Grammys. Growing up I used to love watching award shows, but over the last decade or so my interest has declined significantly. Once you realize that the people handing out the awards are more interested in trying to create pop culture moments that keep their brand relevant rather than the awards themselves, it’s easy to lose interest if you’re someone who thinks awards, no matter how silly, should be treated seriously.

Look, I don’t expect a mainstream-centric music awards show to get it right all the time. It just won’t happen. Ignoring the whole “music is subjective” thing, the simple truth is that most artists will never have the chance to compete for a Grammy because people have to know who you are to get you on the final ballot, and the world is full of great artists who don’t have the kind of industry support to get noticed.

I mean, if Carly Rae Jepsen couldn’t get nominated for anything from the Emotion era, what chance do incredibly talented artists not on major labels really have?

The strangest thing to me about the Grammys is how it attempts to be everything to everyone in the most baffling ways possible. What got the most chatter this year? The unnecessary Fire and Fury skit, a Kesha performance in front of industry bigwigs who wouldn’t release her from her contract, the fact that they wouldn’t allow Album of the Year nominee Lorde a solo performance (while somehow finding time for a Sting/Shaggy performance) and Blue Ivy being the best kid possible.

Did you know they handed out awards too? Spoiler alert: Bruno Mars won all of them. OK, not all of them, but I assume that’s only because he didn’t feel it necessary to release a Regional Music album this year. I guess it just seems silly that an awards show more interested in pissing off the red states in this country also feels the need to have multiple jazz categories, ya know?

To be completely honest, that’s maybe my biggest issue with the Grammys. If you want an excuse to try and prop up an industry that benefits everyone but the majority of artists making music, you do you and have your little ceremony, but at least try and narrow the awards you’re handing out a little bit. Things don’t have to be as complicated as they are now.

I’d eliminate any award that ends in “Performance.” They only exist so that more people will get awards. No category needs anything more than a best song and a best album. I’d also consolidate as much as possible. There’s no need for alternative, heavy metal and rock categories to separate at this point anyway because the Grammys don’t care about rock bands under the age of 45.

I’d also merge any categories that had a regular version of the award and a contemporary/traditional version as well. Listen, at some point you have to accept that your genre has moved on. Make the very best album/song you can and hope for the best.

Now, despite what you might be thinking at this point, I’m no fool. I understand that the system is set up the way that it is for marketing purposes. I get enough press releases that tell me that “[x] songwriter in [genre that I don’t care about]” is a Grammy nominee and it sure would be swell if I interviewed them, nevermind the fact that they were nominated in a category that couldn’t pay to make the televised portion of the ceremony.

Honestly, the only music awards show that I respect are Billboard Music Awards, because at least they’re straight-forward with how things operate. If you sell a lot of records — or, you know, if a lot of people stream your music online, because it’s 2018 — you’re going to win. It’s everything the Grammys want to be without the awkwardness of having to explain why a perfectly decent Bruno Mars record won out over an album from the best rapper alive. Not that Kendrick needs the awards mind you, but it would have been pretty cool, I think. Not that I would have seen it happen, mind you. PJH


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