The Grammys: Great or Generic?


Brooklyn Briscoe

Harry Styles, an extremely popular artist, swept the 2023 Grammys with “Harry’s House” awarded album of the year. This is just one of the awards given that sparked controversy and confusion all across the nation, leading me to question: are the Grammys great; or just generic?

On Sunday, February 5th, the 65th Grammy awards were held in Los Angeles. The Grammy awards were created to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry within the United States. It is important to note that although these awards are said to be the most prestigious and significant ones in the entire music industry, they have been the main source of controversy and debate throughout this week.

One of the hottest topics of controversy stemmed from the “Album of the Year” winner, Harry Styles. Styles was not entirely expected to win, rather, many people were rooting for Beyoncé to win this award. Beyoncé has won a total of 32 Grammy awards, along with a total of 79 nominations. It was truly a divided topic, as many people believe that Beyoncé has won many awards, and it was time for someone else to take the spotlight. Yet the one Grammy that Beyoncé has never won is “Album of the Year”. Her album ‘Renaissance’ was considered the most highly lauded album of 2022, so it’s no surprise that many expected her to win.

Styles’ win was not much of an upset in and of itself, yet what he said in his acceptance speech shocked the audience.

“This is really, really kind. I’m so, so grateful… I’m just so — This doesn’t happen to people like me very often. And this is so, so nice. Thank you very, very much.”

Obviously, this could be interpreted in many ways. Styles grew up in Northern England, and rose to fame through the show ‘The X Factor’. Yet many people took his words as an example of white privilege. Beyoncé’s fans argue that Beyoncé has lost “Album of the Year” to a white artist every time. When Styles said “this doesn’t happen to people like me very often”, fans of Beyoncé (named “The Beyhive” ) were appalled. Because of course this happens to people like Harry Styles very often! His words are considered ironic, as Styles represents every white artist that has won over Beyoncé for this prestigious award.

“Why does it still feel like it’s not enough?” Chris Richards, a pop music critic, says.

Despite the monumental achievements of many black artists, many feel like Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, among other black artists, have not been proportionally rewarded for their successes by the heads of the music industry.

Who decides these awards? This is something that I have been continually wondering. If the awards are truly decided by the public, and peoples opinions are represented, why are many still upset?

I was surprised to read that the Recording Academy only has 12,000 registered voters. And these voters are permitted to vote for the big four categories — best new artist, record, song and album of the year. It shocked me that this small amount of people, compared to the amount of individuals in the United States who listen to music, are allowed to control practically the entire awards ceremony. Yet the Recording Academy says that they are working to diversify their voters, adding more female members by 2025.

Many of my friends had strong opinions about the songs that won at these 2023 awards.

“Why did the song that won ‘Best Song’ actually win?” Sophia questions. “I don’t know many people who have even heard it before.”

‘Best Song’ winner was Bonnie Raitt, with her song “Just Like That”. It was nominated in the same category as many well-known artists like Adele, Abba, and Bad Bunny. I enjoy Raitt’s music, yet I agree with Sophia; it was surprising that her song won in a category among so many perhaps more prominent artists in the music industry.

Another topic for controversy was Sam Smith and Kim Petra’s song “Unholy” winning ‘Best Pop Duo/Group Performance’.

“I was upset that ‘Unholy’ won this award over other songs in the same category,” Meilani Molina explains.

Many consider this song to be somewhat of a ‘joke’ as it is widely popular on social networking apps like TikTok and Instagram. Yet I can’t imagine that people would listen to this song unironically.

Conservative commentators also had a field day with Smith and Petra’s performance at the Grammys, calling it ‘satanic’. Which is fitting for a song titled “Unholy”, yet Twitter didn’t seem to think so. Senator Ted Cruz called the entire performance ‘evil’, and others compared it to ‘devil worshiping’. “Unholy” wasn’t my favorite song by any means, yet I don’t think that it deserves the major backlash it’s getting online.

The Grammys is a well-loved, widely watched tradition in the United States. It is generally heavily anticipated by many viewers, and it is exciting to see new artists and popular artists alike be awarded for their achievements that they have made in the music industry. Although many names may spark controversy, it is important to remember that every artist who is at the Grammys works hard to achieve success, whether the award is handed to them that night or not. I encourage readers to dive into new music, and support an industry that, although flawed, continues to diversify itself.