This article was originally published in The UB Post on February 7, 2020.
The Grammys are irrelevant.
They tell people what they should listen to, all the while most of the music they celebrate has a basic beat with recycled melodies and lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed some Grammy winning albums, including 2019’s This Land by Gary Clark Jr, which won best contemporary blues album at this year’s awards, but for the most part, the awards are given to artists who simply didn’t deserve them.
Now you might be thinking I just hate modern music. You might be thinking I’m a snob who doesn’t appreciate quips from Billie Eilish about her Invisalign (which was literally the entire first track on her freshman effort), but to me this isn’t a modern issue. The Grammys have always lacked integrity. They do not recognize enough musical and songwriting talent. They recognize the airplay that puts songs at the top of the charts and sell out to the masses who are resistant to music that doesn’t follow a certain guideline as to what constitutes a single or a hit song.
For reference, The Beatles only won four Grammy awards while the group was together. Yes, you read that right. The infamous songwriting team of Lennon/McCartney coupled with the talent of George Harrison and Ringo Starr won less than five awards while playing music together. Their music is widely considered to be some of the best Pop/Rock music ever written. The Beatles are perhaps the benchmark that any concurrent artists measure their success upon and they won fewer Grammy awards than the Dixie Chicks.
The Beatles aren’t alone in a lack of awards for such talented musicians. Led Zeppelin only ever won one award, and that was only for the live album Celebration Day in 2014, which many Zeppelin fans consider to be a subpar performance. Otis Redding, the father of R&B, won two. Nas, Queen and The Who are among those artists who have never won a Grammy.
This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy the music of Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish or Lizzo. After all, tastes in music are purely subjective. However, listeners look beyond tracks that win the awards or top the charts and focus on songs that contain substance and are profound works of art. Notice the similarities in labels and producers among albums and songs you listen to and you might be surprised. You might even find the best band you’ve never heard in your life.
And maybe go throw on a copy of Let It Be, which unbelievably never won a Grammy.
Tony Sheaffer is a senior writer for the UB Post. He writes a weekly music column, Friday Groove.