Why Do We Still Care About the Grammys?

Emilia Ferreira, Contributing Writer

On the evening of February 5th, the 65th annual Grammy Awards took place in Las Vegas, and with it came the special concerts, the speeches, the snubs, and the spectacle of it all.  However, the biggest performance at the Grammys is the event itself. So much of music is fighting against the status quo, yet the Recording Academy seeks to toe the line of recognizing risk-taking in music and still rewarding music that fits the rules.

In past years, the Grammys have been struggling to keep up with the times, attempting to reward musicians who break boundaries while still not truly revolutionizing the industry. For new artists, getting nominated or winning a Grammy can be integral to their success as it would get their name out to an audience on the other side of the screen who may not have heard of them previously. Beyond that, the Grammys aren’t necessary to legitimize an artist that is already seeing success. For the audience, it is a chance to see their favorite artists get recognized for their work; beyond that, is there much meaning?

The Grammys should no longer be treated as the end-all-be-all of music recognition.

Music has truly been put into the hands of the consumer. Streaming apps like Spotify or Apple Music are quickly becoming the primary platforms for music, opening up new avenues for artists to advertise themselves and grow an audience. Additionally, social media has created a phenomenon where hit songs are created without the need to sign with a record label. Simply put, times have changed dramatically since the first Grammys,and the Recording Academy is struggling to adapt to the demands of its audience; every year, complaints seem to grow louder.

This year, the biggest upset was Harry Styles winning Album of the Year (and Styles giving us the thought-provoking comment, “People like me don’t usually get this kind of recognition”). Many audience members expressed disappointment that the coveted win went to a seemingly radio-friendly album that didn’t push many musical boundaries. This award specifically sparked a lot of arguments about how much the Academy may or may not be catering to certain platforms, groups, or styles of music.

Yet, there is still much worth celebrating about the Grammys. The 2023 Grammys marked several landmarks in American music history: Kim Petras being the first transgender woman to win an award and Beyonce receiving her 32nd win, breaking the record for all-time Grammy wins. And, as a major institution of the music industry, the Recording Academy continued to grant legitimacy to rising artists and cement many names into history.

However, the Grammys should no longer be treated as the end-all-be-all of music recognition. Many artists have found success and impacted the music industry but never received a Grammy—Diana Ross, Bjork, and Jennifer Lopez, to name a few. Between all of the arguing and critique of the Academy, as well as all of the new categories and theatrics that have been added, the real winner of the Grammys is the Recording Academy itself.

This article also appears in our March 2023 print edition.