The Politics of the Grammys

The Grammys award artists who create the best music -- and like any form of art, good music is created through experience. Listening to music is a major form of relaxation for some, and because of that we tend to think of it as being euphoric. What we often forget is that these artists go through real experiences and their music wouldn’t be produced without them. The problem with the Grammys is that Academy voters continually vote for the upbeat, dance song and ignore the ones that discuss important social issues.

This trend can be seen in this year’s Grammy winners. Logic’s “1-800-273-8255,” a song about surviving suicidal thoughts, lost to Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like,” Kesha’s “Praying,” a ballad about overcoming abuse, lost to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” an upbeat pop song praising a woman’s body. Ed Sheeran and his album full of love songs won best pop vocal album over Kesha’s “Rainbow” and Lady Gaga’s “Joanne.”

The latter two albums were inspired by taking control over your own body and a late family member, respectively. I have nothing against Ed Sheeran and his music, however the Academy completely overlooked lyrics with significance when choosing a winner.

Awarding artists for sharing their darker experiences is important because it lets listeners know they’re not alone in their experiences, and may give people the strength to share their own similar experiences. Because music is mainstream, its topics and themes can easily be brought up in discussion.  When Logic released his song regarding suicide, the national suicide hotline had an increase in number of calls due to exposure to the hotline. It’s no doubt that music serves as a voice for the voiceless and is extremely influential.

Grammy nominees such as Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Kesha, and Lady Gaga have such a large fan base that their nominations alone attract millions of viewers to the televised event. These artists are loved enough to give performances at the event (and therefore generate money,) but are snubbed from winning time and time again. Basically, the Grammys monetize off of acknowledging these songs and artists, but never fully put them in the spotlight.

If every winner had a tragic backstory that they share in their speech, the atmosphere of the event would change dramatically. Keeping a fun environment helps attract more viewers, and therefore rakes in more money.

People want to keep politics out of music, but like politics — the industry revolves around money.