A shift in sound

Changing representation in the Grammys


Photo Thomas Hawk Via Flickr

by Logan Griffin

2018 will mark the 60th Grammy awards, with more than 80 categories for nomination the Grammys have been the

main way for the music industry’s most relevant figureheads to receive recognition for their work. Since the first Grammys in 1959 there has been a large amount of changes in the tastes of American musical culture. Depending on who you ask, the Grammys can be one of the most entertaining, or the most trite parts of American culture.


One important thing about this year’s nominations, specifically in the Album of the Year category, is the distinct lack of a white male artist up for the award. This has not happened since 1999, where all five nominees were women. This is important and in some ways can be seen    as a milestone for the entertainment industry.                             


Key characteristics of this Grammy is the large amount of Rap and R&B oriented nominees, something notable as not even 30 years ago, the Recording Academy Refused to Broadcast the Best Rap Performance reward. Major criticism has came upon the Grammys about the general wall it has built between certain kinds of music, especially when it comes to commerciality and distribution. But with the rising internet culture and with a leveled playing field of discussion, barriers that seemed unbreakable for musicians before are now a thing of the past. For example, last year Chance The Rapper won Best New Artist without the backing of a record label.


But what makes these changes in the cultural sphere of the Academy important, well it shows that the awards are less centered in the hands of an Academy but more of the perception, population, and values of the audience. Now we can see that perception of artists that win awards and what the academy is willing to accept and give attention can and is being swayed by the audience more than before. Representations from people of color, women, and musicians who want to subvert the record label system are important voices to amplify. We live in a generation where these people can build a career and it’s in good will to have an award broadcast recognize that. There is always room for more representation, and more perspectives and we as a public can focus on progressing that in the future but for now it is a time to celebrate this achievement.


The 60th Annual Grammys will air Jan. 28 on CBS.