Are music awards shows relevant anymore?

Sarah Lahiri explores the downfall of music award shows in terms of both popularity and credibility.

Sarah Lahiri
22nd March 2021
Image credit: Frebers
Award shows are facing the lowest audience rates than ever before. The Oscars, the Golden Globes, and more recently the Grammys, have all faced a similar fate. This decline isn’t directly resulting from the pandemic but has definitely been expedited by it. Everyone is clearly tired of award shows.

One of the main reasons people have become so oblivious to award shows is because of the increasing number of them. If you missed the Grammys, you can watch the Golden Globes, or the VMAs, or Billboard Music awards and so on.  Live events are no longer as special as they used to be, and quite frankly, have become the same.

People are easily bored now, and sitting through hours of linear television is not something that is culturally relevant anymore. You’d rather watch snippets of the clips you want on social media than sit through the entire shindig to catch a few minutes of the artist you want to watch.

Award shows have also started losing their standing in the music world as they face issues of credibility. The Grammys, like most notable ceremonies, are being criticised for awarding commercially successful mainstream artists over more culturally talented ones. They are often criticised for not being representative and failing to recognise the work of artists of colour, frequently awarding other candidates over exceptional hip-hop or R&B ones.

Most notable ceremonies are being criticised for awarding commercially successful mainstream artists over more culturally talented ones

From Adele’s past victory over Beyonce’s Lemonade to Macklemore’s 2014 success over Kendrick Lamar to the Weeknd’s 2021 'Blinding Lights' snub, the Grammys no longer have a leg to stand on. The outcomes are openly biased as they embody issues of gender and racial prejudice, and artists themselves are choosing to decline performances at them. These shows are just a pat on the back to what is already popular, and are essentially just a way for Hollywood to continue celebrating itself.

The decisions of such shows are no longer met with respect either, owing to the apparent disconnect from musical reality and the controversies that are becoming increasingly difficult to look over. The dip in viewers is testament to this, with award shows becoming nothing more than a relic of the past.

The voting process of these shows is also absurd. The nominations and selections are done by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and are entirely independent of fan influence.  What the committee does and how they do it is kept private, and fans have stopped expecting anything but glorified manipulation in the outcome.

These decisions should not be taken seriously, as the committee is so large that voters do not have in-depth knowledge of the category they are voting within; the results are more a test of popularity than of musical significance. If the results aren’t relevant in their roles, the significance of the Grammys within the music industry shouldn’t be either.

Award shows thrive on their appeal to their audiences, and between the irrelevant results, appearances and wider social issues, viewers are pulling away. The ceremonies are still prestigious, but the approach and reception of them no longer are.

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