The Grammys: Award show or popularity contest?

By Tyler White | Sports Writer

For many people, the Grammys is an important event that showcases the world’s greatest musical talents … but does it really do this?

Call me pretentious, but I have never enjoyed the Grammys. There are definitely some noteworthy and deserving winners of the awards, but in general, I believe the biggest categories are given to the biggest stars. In other words, commercial success is prioritized over musical talent. I feel like many of the best performers and artists get snubbed and are taken over by the year’s most popular people, regardless of the objective skill on display.

For example, take this year’s top categories: Record of the Year and Album of the Year. While “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus is catchy and fun, it was in no way the best song of the year. Additionally, as much as I love Taylor Swift, “Midnights” was not the best album from 2023.

This is not to discredit either of these artists. They are both phenomenal in their own ways. Moreover, it was great to finally see Cyrus get her first Grammy, which has been long overdue. However, when looking at the other nominees, I think there were others who were more deserving.

For Record of the Year, I believe “Not Strong Enough” by boygenius was a bit more deserving, with its lush and vibrant instrumentation and chorus. Additionally, I think boygenius’ album and Janelle Monáe’s “The Art of Pleasure” could have been considered better than “Midnights.”

Even beyond the top categories of the year, the Grammys tend to misstep. For Best Rock Performance, the aforementioned “Not Strong Enough” by boygenius took the crown. So, why would I have a problem with this? Well, I don’t really see how it is a rock song, especially with nominations from bands like Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters. Additionally, while Metallica is an absolute legend of the genre, it wasn’t the most deserving of winning Best Metal Performance when more metal-centric bands like Slipknot and Spiritbox were up for the award as well.

Despite my negativity, all is not lost at the Grammys. Going further down the categories, I find there to be more deserving winners. While I could sit here and highlight a bunch of small composers and producers who won niche awards, there is one in particular I want to spotlight.

Allison Russell’s “Eve Was Black” won Best American Roots Performance. Her album, “The Returner,” was one of the best albums of the year, with its beautiful mix of soulful vocals and soothing instrumentation. However, it will sadly not be recognized by the masses because it didn’t top the charts like the winners of the main categories.

While I’m not the biggest fan of the Grammys, I want to make it clear that I don’t think it’s an absolute waste of time. Although I don’t really agree with its winners and struggle to understand the nomination process for its categories, I still think it’s a great opportunity for people to find new artists and celebrate the wins of their favorite musicians.