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MSU is groovin' with the Grammys

December 6, 2021
Photo by Emily Maze | The State News

Known for presenting the biggest night in music, The Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy dropped their nominations of the year on Tuesday, Nov. 23, with some choices being fan favorites, and others surprising their viewers.

The Recording Academy seemed to have repeat picks based on the popular music of the year for many of the categories, such as Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year. These artists include Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X. There is also another nod for Taylor Swift in the Album of the Year category after she won acclaim for “Folklore” last year.

While these artists have had large records in 2021, many of the mainstream artists have been seen in the top charts before. This led some, like social relations and policy senior Luke Adams, to believe there may be biases for certain singers in the industry.

“The top seeds in this year are the top seeds from last year,” Adams, who is also a member of the Music Review Team at Impact FM, said.

However, social work sophomore Ava Ballagh said this is a strategic marketing plot for the Grammys.

"I think if they were to pick people that weren’t as widely popular and well-known," Ballagh said, "People would be like, 'I don’t know who any of these people are so I’m not going to watch the Grammys.' I think there is a lot of it that is a business. They have to make money and be successful."

While the nominees may be repeat artists, it does not mean they are not popular and frontrunners for yet another Grammy acclamation. Billie Eilish is one of those artists, for many, who continue to deserve their consecutive nominations, Adams said.

“I’m putting my money behind 'Happier Than Ever,'" he said. "I thought that was a really good, mature record. ... It feels like there’s no half measures on it ... it’s fully committed to what it’s doing."

Ballagh said some of these artists deserve even more praise than what they are already receiving from the academy. She hopes "Evermore" also wins Album of the Year.

"I feel like there would be more (nominations for) Taylor Swift because all she’s done is drop albums the past two years,” Ballagh said.

Some artists have swept in the nominations, such as Olivia Rodrigo, who is nominated in seven categories. Rodrigo's debut album "Sour" was a hit among young people, becoming the most streamed album on Spotify in 2021. She also had the most-streamed song of 2021 on the music platform, "Driver's License," which was played over 1.1 billion times.

“The nomination that I was most excited to see was probably the Album of the Year category; specifically Olivia Rodrigo’s 'Sour' was a highlight," journalism freshman Caesar Roundtree said. "I had already predicted that because the massive storm of a year she's had.”

While many acclaimed artists are being supported, others, such as Justin Bieber, are being met with a critical eye. Bieber's Album of the Year nomination, for his album "Justice," has raised eyebrows.

“I do not know a single person who has talked about that 'Justice' Justin Bieber record," Adams said. "In the rest of the Album of the Year category," Adams said. "I have heard someone talk about or heard someone play it in a public space."

Roundtree said Bieber's album was a strange choice, due to the content of the songs. The album was advertised as an ode to social justice, yet the songs were not reflected as such, to some.

While Bieber's album seems to have a negative audience consensus, some were disappointed to see albums that were fan favorites be dismissed.

"I was expecting to see Miley Cyrus' 'Plastic Hearts' album," Roundtree said. "It was a very rock transition for her to an 80s era that people were invested in."

Roundtree also said he was frustrated about some artists being pushed out of the running throughout the history of the Grammys, such as Katy Perry or Nicki Minaj, who have had a lot of pop-culturally important songs and many dedicated fans.

With his frustration in the system comes questions on how diverse the picks from the Academy really are.

"They just want to please their audience and are paying into getting people to watch the award show," Ballagh said.

Ballagh said a solution to this problem could be a supplement show where unknown artists are recognized for their work. She claimed this will allow the Grammys to make money from their main show with the stars, while also recognizing every artist who deserves to be on the stage.

Adams is one to search out the more diverse picks and appreciate the consistency in these sections of the industry, such as the Alternative category in this year's nominations.

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Many wonder about the future of award shows.

With controversial picks and a loss of interest, fewer people are watching. The last Grammys experienced a dramatic 53% drop in viewership, with 8.8 million viewers, compared to last year's 18.7 million viewers.

Ballagh said the length of the award show may be the issue.

"We are in a culture where we don't have four hours," she said.

Roundtree said media consumers have a much shorter attention span nowadays, and this is enabled by the ability to get award show results from social media, such as Instagram or Twitter.

Adams said the Grammys doesn't add anything to popular culture anymore and doesn't hold the weight it used to, promoting only the interests of industry moguls.

“How is it that this is something that consumes so many industry people and comes up with so little cultural weight in terms of what it has to say?” Adams said.


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