7 Ways the Grammys Could Be Better

Now that we’ve all had a week to digest what happened at the Grammys last week, let’s take a minute to actually discuss how the Grammys could be better. This year’s show was an awkward, slow-moving display that was obviously trying so hard. And, let’s be honest, apart from a few performances, the show as a whole wasn’t terribly good. With everything from small tweaks to changes in the voting process, we’re breaking down the 7 ways the Grammys could be better:

1) Fewer performances, more awards. If the number of awards actually televised this year seemed skimpy (only nine awards were broadcast), that’s because there’s an untelevised preshow where seventy-four awards were handed out this year to various artists, and they’re not unknowns either. Weird Al, Kendrick Lamar, Paramore, and Jack White, were among the unbroadcast winners, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Considering how mediocre half of the performances were, why not just fill that time with awards since, you know, this is an awards show? It would give other artists the exposure the Grammys is supposed to give them.

2) More selective performances. The powerhouses of this year’s Grammys show were the Paul McCartney x Rihanna x Kanye West trio, Miranda Lambert, and Sia’s bizarre set. Katy Perry, though fabulous, was flat. AC/DC seemed like a desperate ditch at a comeback (which it kind of is considering they’re headlining Coachella). And the Adam Levine x Gwen Stefani set, while enjoyable for its novelty, was misguided. Instead of trying to cram as many relevant (and irrelevant) artists into the night as possible, why not savor the performances? Make them fewer and higher quality. Really let the music play out instead of putting as many semi-connected artists as possible into one fifteen-minute set.

3) Integrity. The Grammys voting process claims that it works on merit, not on chart performances. If that’s true, how did Sam Smith win all the awards? And how did he win them over Hozier? Nuff said.

4) Fewer contradictions, please. President Obama’s speech on violence against women and the ensuing performance, while vital and moving, were highly transparent in their intentions considering Chris Brown was in the audience. Not just that, he was nominated. If the Grammys are going to take a stand for something and get political, they need to follow through.

5) Listen to what Kanye said. I already argued this point last week, but Kanye has a point about black artists at the Grammys. The way it’s been for years is like bait, dangling awards in front of Kanye and his peers only to give the wins to other artists. This needs to be a truly democratic process, which brings me back to #3.

6) Make voting less nebulous. Most awards show voting processes are a vague nod to a panel of experts, and the Grammys are no different. The nominees (submitted by Recording Academy members as well as record companies) go through three rounds of voting, started off with a panel of 150 experts who make sure submissions are “eligible.” The standards, at least on the Grammy website, are not clearly defined. Also the fact that record companies are allowed and encouraged to pitch their own nominees is shady, don’t you think? Considering how sketchy most record company advertising and promotion blitzes are, this should really come down to the listener’s choice rather than the record company’s.

7) Do whatever it takes to make this a celebration and not a competition. For some reason, the Oscars, the SAG Awards, what have you, have always seemed more high spirited than the Grammys. Even the runners-up have kind words to say about their fellow nominees. In any case, film and television awards ceremonies have a spirit of celebration rather than competition. I don’t enjoy watching the Grammys, but I love watching the Oscars. I don’t really know what it would take, but the animosity this year was palpable, don’t you think? The Grammys are supposed to be a celebration of music, so shouldn’t we have better performances to reflect that hard work that’s been done? Or deserving wins to support that same hard work?

I realize these are all idealistic notions and that it’s likely that nothing will change next year or the year after that. These awards ceremonies are notoriously political, but we still buy into the clout for some reason. Bill Wyman’s Slate article from four years ago catalogues why he’s tired of the Grammys. Maybe it’s just time to turn off the TV. We know none of this is honest, and the saddest thing is that much of the work that gets nominated is honest art, but it’s not given a fair chance for some crazy reason or another. Still, somehow, the charts are the most accurate representation of the best music out there. Even though those numbers are flawed in their own way, it’s less shady than the Grammys at the very least.

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1 Comment

  1. Lauren Silvestri

    February 16, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    I totally agree, I feel like the Grammys have become sort of a joke but artists still vie for the coveted title of “Grammy winner,” even though it does not mean much anymore. The Grammys is also the only award show I know that barely airs its awards. Personally I love watching the acceptance speeches on other award shows and it usually adds some memorable moments.

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