The 55th Grammy Awards were last Sunday. Even though I am a huge music fan, this year was the first year I seriously invested myself in the awards. I went all out, watching the Special Merit Awards, the pre-telecast, and the television broadcast. Throughout the three ceremonies, I noticed some problems that I would like to address here.
About seventy awards are given out during the pre-telecast, leaving only ten to twelve for the actual televised event. The TV broadcast presents the pop, rap, and country awards while the pre-tel presents all the tech, orchestral, rock, metal, jazz, blues, Christian, children, new age, Latin, and less mainstream country awards. That is a massive variety of musical genres that don’t even get mentioned in the broadcast. I understand that they can’t do all eighty-something on live television, but some variety would be nice.
Tell me why rap gets so many specific categories—what the hell is “urban contemporary”?—and nearly all of them get aired. Why not pick the two biggest ones and replace others with rock or jazz? Also, why are the same people and groups up for so many different awards? I know the Grammys are supposed to represent the best of the best, but if they diversify their categories and their nominees, more people are going to have an opportunity to be represented at the show, even if they don’t win.
On the topic of categories, the Academy likes to lump people into these broad groups like “rock” or “pop”, which is easier for them to do, but not a very accurate representation of the musicians. Florence + the Machine was up for a “pop” award. I would not have put them in that category. I also would not have put The Black Keys or Jack White in a category as vague as “rock”, but I’m not in charge. Ideally, an alternative rock category would be best for those three groups.
The reason I watched the Grammys this year was that my favorite band—Halestorm—was nominated for best “Hard Rock/Metal Performance”. They won, which was incredible and very emotional. However, I don’t think it was fair to the other nominees—Lamb of God, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Anthrax, and Marilyn Manson—to have to compete with a young hard rock band. Hard rock and metal are very different genres and should have been treated as such. It would be like making a jazz/blues category or pop/hiphop. Similar, but not the same.
I think the reason there aren’t separate rock, hard rock, and metal categories is that there is a strange complex that exists between rock/metal musicians and mainstream award shows like the Grammys. When they received news of their nomination, Lzzy Hale—lead singer of Halestorm—said that bands like them don’t care about the Grammys until they get nominated for one. Rock and metal bands don’t prioritize awards like some pop, rap, or country artists do. However, that’s not to say they don’t get excited when it eventually happens. As I said earlier, diversifying could bring in a new audience to the Grammys, as well as new listeners to groups faithful Grammy viewers may have never heard of otherwise.
One thing I really loved about the broadcast this year was that The Black Keys and Jack White got to perform. Jack’s performance with The Peacocks and The Buzzards was amazing. I definitely think it was the best of the night and that isn’t coming from me because I am heavily biased in favor of Mr. White, but from all the Tweets and Tumblr posts I saw immediately after he performed. That show needed some shredding guitar and the live audience and home viewers ate it up.
All I am trying to say here is that the Grammys would be better off presenting a more diverse selection of nominees and categories to please more demographics.