1968 was a pretty great year for music, The Beatles released “The White Album”, The Rolling Stones released “Beggars Banquet,” Creedence Clearwater Revival released their first album, and other notable chart-topping songs of the year were: “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “Hello I Love You” by The Doors, and many other songs still played to this day.
Do you know who won song of the year in the Grammys for that year?
“Up Up and Away” by The Fifth Dimension.
Have you heard of it? Neither have I.
The Grammys are considered as the pinnacle of award shows when it comes to the music industry, along the lines of the Oscars for the movie industry. Last year 26 million people tuned in to see Adele’s album “25” win album of the year over “Lemonade” from Beyonce and “Views” from Drake.
Regardless of album that won that year, the Grammys have a long and storied history of giving awards to artists, songs, and albums that the public disagrees with.
Whether it was U2’s “The Joshua Tree” over Michael Jackson’s “Bad” in 1988, or Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” over Eminem’s “Recovery” in 2011. The evidence is prevalent that the Grammys constantly give awards to those that nobody feels should’ve gotten them.
Still, this can be said as being systematic of all award shows, from the Grammys to the Oscars to even the Tonys.
Did you know “Citizen Kane,” considered the greatest movie ever made, lost to “How Green Was My Valley” in the 1941 Oscars?
Did you know that “Avenue Q” beat out “Wicked” in the 2004 Tonys?
These examples illustrate the fact that every single awards show seems to give awards to those who don’t deserve it and doesn’t acknowledge the music, movies, or productions that the people believe should win.
However why does this happen? Shouldn’t the people who’s daily jobs is working in these industries know what is truly the best movie, album, or musical?
Well, it’s a bit more complicated than one would suspect. However to gain better understanding we need to break down to voting process. In the Grammys there are five stages: Submitting, Screening, Nominating, Final Voting, and Results.
Submission is when studio executives, record companies, artists, or anyone who is a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences submit entries to a specific field, like best Rap Album.
After that, voting members then vote in the nominating round to whittle down the hundreds of entries submitted to each category into five nominees for each category, voting members generally vote within their area of expertise.
Once the five nominees for each category have been created, then voting members vote in the final voting round to determine who gets the Grammy for the category that they are voting on.
However, what we have to understand is that voting members have a lot to categories to vote on, as they may vote up to 15 in genre fields (Rap, Alternative, Pop, etc.) and the four main categories of Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. Overall that means 19 separate categories that members have to decide upon which album, song , or artist to choose.
Within those 19 categories there are hundreds of submissions that voting members have to consider for getting their vote, and remember that these voting members are busy people, as to be a voting members that you have contributed in some way to the record industry. So they probably wouldn’t be too inclined to listen to even 20 seperate albums (approx. 200 songs) for their choice for the corresponding category.
And that is just one category, just imagine the torrential horde of music that one would have to listen to if they wanted to vote in the maximum 19 categories.
This doesn’t take into account if they or a friend has a submission, a rival artist in their record label that has a submission, or even a few select artists they may like, prefer to listen to, or are really high-profile that has a submission.
Still, in the end, does it matter?
If the music touches you and is something that you enjoy and gain meaning from, does it matter whether or not a bunch of record executives and voting members liked it too?
I like to think that all art is subjective, because everybody will draw something different from the piece of art, whether that piece of art is a Picasso or the latest pop song on the radio.
And that is the crux of this article, it shouldn’t matter whether the album that you like has won a Grammy or not. The fact is that no award is going to make that song or album or artist sound any better.
Only you can decide if it sounds good to you, and that may not necessarily line up with what the voting members think is good.
And that’s okay. Because in the end, we will all differ in opinions. The question you should ask yourself isn’t if that song or album has won a Grammy, but if you enjoy the music you listen to?
If you said yes, than congrats! You have won! You have music that you enjoy listening to!
So go, listen to the music you love regardless if it has a Grammy attached to its name or not. And if you feel like the artist that you so dearly love deserves recognition and reward for their effort, then go see their show or buy their album instead of listening to it on Spotify or YouTube.