The not-so glamorous side of the Grammy Awards
The Grammys’ controversies, hidden biases, and on-stage dramas fuel debate in the music industry.

Frustrations about Grammy Award disparities continuously linger within the music industry. Most controversies and public confusion resulting from nominations and winning results are directed toward the voting process and systems of categorization itself. For instance, fans were unimpressed when Macklemore was awarded Best Rap Performance and Ryan Lewis took home Best Rap Song over Kendrick Lamar in 2014, or The Weekend shutting down the Grammys after his critically acclaimed album, After Hours, did not receive any nominations in 2021. 

Other Grammy controversies depict showdowns between artists and nominees, which also produce speculation around the motives and conversations that go on behind the scenes of the choices displayed. 

One major Grammy controversy was the interruption of Bob Dylan’s set by performance artist Michael Portnoy (Soy Bomb Guy) to embody his disagreement towards Dylan’s “dense nutritional life” and representation of transformational art in 1998. Another mention of controversial interactions on the Grammy stage is the infamous on-stage interruptions made by Kanye West

In 2015, artist Beck won Album of the Year over Beyoncé, which prompted West to interrupt Beck’s award moment by approaching the microphone on stage, quickly deciding against the interruption, and taking his seat. While West did not deliberately interrupt the artist’s award presentation, he later told E! News that “Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé.” This altercation happened six years after West deliberately took the microphone from Taylor Swift for winning Album of the Year over Beyoncé as well. Both events sparked comments about respect in the music industry.

The Grammy Awards nomination and award decisions made by the Recording Academy committee have been questioned and criticized, as the public is not made aware of how the voting process for these prestigious awards is conducted and on what grounds the winners are decided. The Grammy Awards process is made up of six official steps, as disclosed by the Recording Academy: submission, screening, nomination, special nominating committees, final voting, and results. 

Although this process seems to be straightforward and “fair” as described by the Recording Academy, it is understandable that certain steps in the process, like the peer relations between voters and biased opinions of members within the same field or category, may be considered as loopholes for possible misconception, and create opportunities for tampered and influenced nomination decisions. 

Musical controversy persists in the Grammy community. After all, awards seasons are composed of entertainment, show-stopping performances, and musical rifts, so controversy is bound to slip in too.


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