This Sunday the 57th annual Grammy Awards will take place, which for me translates into an awful amount of unnecessary rants on social media and memes being posted over and over on Tumblr, but most of all lots of complaining. What is supposed to be "music's biggest night" has turned into a "Who Wore It Best?" competition combined with an Illuminati conspiracy-theory fest (oh, the big bad tyrannical music industry machine), and every year there seems to be more and more criticism the morning after the broadcast.
But is this because every year, the nominations are consistently getting more bland and lowbrow than the year before? Or is it just that the number of critical music bloggers has increased tenfold, making the awards show seem like the most awful thing ever to air on television and a disgrace to music itself? Really, it could go either way. It could even go both ways. But to better analyze the situation, we should take a look at the two different types of Grammy Awards viewers who come out to play every year.
First there's the preteen girl complaining about how Justin Bieber's "Beauty and a Beat" wasn't nominated for Record of the Year:
"His falsetto during the chorus?! Game-changing! And Nicki Minaj's rap in the middle of the song? Seamless convergence of two genres. King of Pop!"
Then we have the snobby music buff complaining about the tweens complaining about their favorite Disney star not being nominated:
"They used a VIOLIN TRACK?! TO THE GUILLOTINES!"
In the end, all you get is a huge tidal wave of complaining that gets directly associated with the Grammys, which doesn't really hold true to the whole "a night to celebrate music" motto, does it? Everyone is always going to have some category to complain about, but this has really grown in the past few years with the shift caused by social media -- a shift that has also transformed the landscape of music as a whole.
I vividly remember when the "Best New Artist" award was presented in 2011. The nominees were Florence + the Machine, Esperanza Spalding, Drake, Mumford and Sons, and Mr. Bieber. Esperanza Spalding was announced as the winner, and afterwards when I went to check Twitter, my timeline was flooded with a spew of tweets complaining about how Justin Bieber was robbed and how no one even knew who Spalding was.
For me, this experience showed how the new digital age and the old, non-social-media age were colliding on Grammy night. Before Twitter and Facebook, there really wouldn't be a huge fuss over the obscure artist winning over the singing heartthrob. The general public would just accept it and maybe even give Spalding a listen now that she was given such a huge recognition as the Best New Artist award. But now, everyone has an opinion about everything.
What every Grammy Awards night complainer needs to realize, though, is that the criteria that dictates what song or album gets nominated for each category has changed greatly since society crossed over into the 2010s, and that is not necessarily a terrible thing.
But what is a good nomination? Of course, the music has to be good, inventive and exciting, but it's 2015. Now another aspect is there: impact. If a song has a major pop-culture impact, then shouldn't that be recognized in some way? Music is not just music anymore; it's an experience.
Story continues on the next page.Remember the first time you heard this song? Admit it...you loved it.
I do admit, the number of artists on the ballot who have had huge radio hits within the past year has increased. As a kid, I used to look at the list of Grammy nominees and could barely pronounce some of the people's names. If I were a kid now, I would probably be able to go through the nominees with ease, me and my limited Top 40-heavy iTunes library allowing me to think we had reached the pinnacle of music knowledge at age 9. This year the Best New Artist category, known for highlighting the more left-field, up-and-coming artists consists of people like Iggy Azalea and Sam Smith, both of whom can be considered full-blown music superstars at this point.
Yes, there are still some left-fielders among the nominees this year, artists who are making some really great music. However, many people have argued that so many "big hitters" this year are taking up spots in categories that they shouldn't be. So does this mean that the nominations are becoming too saturated with radio hits, or that the music that has been dominating the airwaves is becoming better?
Personally, I side with the latter. A lot of the music that hits the mainstream nowadays is more interesting and better-written than ever before. It's hard to get distracted by the fact that the heavily criticized Miley Cyrus is on the list for Pop Vocal Album, but if you look past the twerking controversy and drug-related innuendo, not only was Bangerz her most daring and impressive LP yet, but it was also a sort of pop culture game-changer. She broke away from her squeaky-clean image and produced real, sustainable pop music like the party masterpiece "We Can't Stop" and the power ballad "Wrecking Ball," both notable efforts that deserve to be recognized.
What people are complaining about isn't necessarily their favorite underground song not being nominated. They're complaining about "that song that they play on the radio over and over again" being on the list too many times. Again, isn't a bad thing. In fact, these certain songs are almost so overplayed that we forget what great tunes they are.
Remember when you first heard "Stay With Me" and "All About That Bass"? Now, they seem like old, watered-down radio hits, but if at first listen Sam Smith's smooth vocals didn't get you feeling some type of way and Meghan Trainor's "doo-woops" didn't get you shaking your booty in your car, then something is wrong with you.
Spread out over an entire year, the magic of Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" and Pharrell's "Happy" can get lost, but this initial spark is exactly what the Grammys are trying to recognize. So at this point, all we should be doing is enjoying our music for what it is, stop complaining about who wins what, and grabbing some popcorn for what is the biggest night in music.
The 57th annual Grammy Awards air this Sunday, February 8; coverage starts at 7 p.m. on CBS. Scheduled peformers include Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, Sia, Hozier and Annie Lennox, Jessie J and Tom Jones, Ariana Grande, AC/DC, Sam Smith, and more. Our predictions for the major categories are below in bold.
RECORD OF THE YEAR "Fancy," Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX "Chandelier," Sia "Stay With Me (Darkchild version)," Sam Smith "Shake It Off," Taylor Swift "All About That Bass," Meghan Trainor
ALBUM OF THE YEAR Morning Phase, Beck Beyoncé, Beyoncé X, Ed Sheeran In the Lonely Hour, Sam Smith Girl, Pharrell Williams
SONG OF THE YEAR "All About That Bass," Meghan Trainor "Chandelier," Sia "Shake It Off," Taylor Swift "Stay With Me," Sam Smith "Take Me to Church," Hozier
BEST NEW ARTIST Iggy Azalea Bastille Brandy Clark HAIM Sam Smith
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