For almost 60 years, the Grammys has been one of the most anticipated award shows, holding the legacy of honoring superior and outstanding musicians in each music genre. Ever since the Grammy’s debut in May 1959, the well-renowned show has a record in America for acknowledging top-chart artists who have highly influenced the music industry and culture. However, it has been mentioned by yearly viewers that many of the 2014 award shows have been a disappointment.
Expressing a tirade of anger during the start of the 57th show, Trey Songz tweeted saying, “the Grammys shortchange culture for popularity every year. My fans give me the real reward, LOVE. So every time they give me nothing, I think of you. I love you.” While his argument could be from a standpoint of not being recognized, Songz did have three number one chart singles versus the other nominated artists like Schoolboy Q and Childish Gambino, who have each had only one leading single for the year.
As an annual viewer, I have noticed this particular show gave much spotlight to rookie artist Sam Smith, who was nominated for a total of six Grammys along with veterans Pharrell and Beyoncé. Smith brought home four awards this year, including Record of the Year, Best New Artist, Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. Not to deny the vocal talents of the British R&B singer, but Best Pop Vocal Album was an award to question. He was placed in a category with Miley Cirus, Katy Perry, Cold Play and Ed Sheeran, whose albums all consisted of far more eclectic instruments and tunes.
Ed Sheeran, another R&B singer from the UK, was given much shine at this year’s Grammy Awards for his single “Sing” off his X album. According to the National Market Diary, NPD, music reports, country and rock are the two most popular genres of music in America. Watching the awards felt as if it gave off a perspective that America is centered on classical music rather than urban music, which, in actuality, is more popular and has been on the top of the charts all year round.
The idea for the Grammy Awards was originally from the monthly Gramophone Magazine, which was London publication including music reviews and spotlights. Since 1923, the magazine has been distributed monthly and supports mostly classical music. Now compare Trey Song’s 2014 album Trigga to Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour and Ed Sheeran’s X album. Trigga is not a representation of what one would define as classical music, which is defined as being highly influenced by Western traditions. It was also a debatable choice for the American Music Awards when Iggy Azalea took home the trophy for favorite hip-hop album. Her music has more of a funky, pop edge to it. This makes me question whether the American industry wants its most notarized tunes to reflect music as universally acceptable versus what is actually popular among the culture.
“If they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us,” rapper Kanye West said in an interview following the show. “Beck needs to respect artistry, and he should have given his award to Beyoncé.”
Kanye is widely known for his cockiness, but his statement regarding Beck’s Album of the Year win over Beyoncé was the most talked about on social media and news headlines. According to Billboard charts, Beck did not make the top 10 for Adult Alternative Song Artist and only made number 13 on the Adult Alternative Song Charts. On the other hand, Pharrell and Sam Smith, who were also in the category, were top 10 on the 2014 Adult Pop Charts. I guess this supports the idea of Sam Smith being put on a pedestal, but the ideology of the Grammys does not lucratively define the uniqueness of the music culture.