In the field of more crowded each year musical award shows, the industry’s most coveted remains the Grammys. A chance to promote music to the mainstream via a tv production featuring poor sound mixes and cheesy emcee jokes. Earmarked for being traditionally unhip, old and white, in recent years the RIAA has attempted to get more urban and diverse. They’ve been attempting to regain credibility since the moment Milli Vanilli picked up the Best New Artist trophy and Jethro Tull beat out Metallica for best metal album in the late 80’s.
Whereas some of these shows are voted on by the fans or determined by sales (AMAs) or decided under a shrouded cloud of eternal milllenial hipsterness that chases staged moments and relevance (MTV), this conglomeration is actually democratic. It’s voted on by peers across the industry. They don’t always get it right (see the examples above) and can often be too predictable in their choices. Any aging vintage rocker that releases a project gets automatic nominations and victories. Arcade Fire, Taylor Swift, Outkast, Beck and others have done considerable work in rectifying this situation.
Our type of music has largely remained on the outside looking in. It was puzzling that Jason Isbell wasn’t nominated in the major categories a year ago, but Sturgill Simpson blasted through that glass ceiling today in a very big way. And the fact that he finds it funny and really couldn’t give a shit about it makes it that much cooler. Could he be this year’s Arcade Fire? As he strides to the podium, Beyonce looking confused and Kanye convulsing….how sweet would that be?
The fact that Brandy Clark, Lori McKenna and Maren Morris also snagged nominations shows that the Grammys got more right this year than they got wrong. Nods to Americana heavyweights such as The Avett Brothers, Sarah Jarosz and The Time Jumpers are also exciting developments.
Here’s to hoping all the good guys and gals bring home the gold gramophones. Yet, the fact that so much “good” music was actually acknowledged is a victory for us all.