Award shows have been around for as long as I can remember; which, in retrospect, isn’t very long but anyway, they’ve become a staple of pop culture at this point. With awards in music from the MTV VMA’s, the Billboard Music Awards, American Music Award, and of course, everyone’s favorite, the Grammys, we have so many chances to watch our favorite artists compete for little trophies that are probably going to be stored away in a closet somewhere and never be seen again. My feelings towards these events have dwindled in the past few years, mostly due in part of arguments over nominations, uninspiring performances and overall undeserving winners. It didn’t always used to be that way though, because I vividly remember being in 5th grade and begging my mom to let me stay up an extra hour to watch the VMA’s (She let me, but only if I studied enough for social studies). I can’t tell if it’s because I’m older and less interested or if the shows were genuinely just better back then, but either way I don’t get thrilled about these things anymore and I think I’ve finally found the reason: because award shows don’t mean anything.
I used to think that because an artist wins a certain accolade or receives recognition that their work is considered “good” and that I should be listening to it. That really put a damper on my music taste because most of the things that I had come to enjoy weren’t mainstream pop. I was embarrassed to talk about what my preferences were and hid my musical tastes for years. I mean literal years. Throughout middle school and high school especially, I was nervous that because something wasn’t well known or received that I would also be portrayed that way because of it. Anything that was considered a little “weird” or “avant-garde” I kept to myself and rarely discussed my favorite artists with friends. And I understand now how completely wrong that logic is, but way back in the day when I was stuck in a little bubble, I really couldn’t see past that. But once I got to college, I met people who had the same preferences as I did. Some of them even listened to things far more strange that I had ever even thought of. And that’s when I realized that “good” does not correspond with “popular”.
I’ve come to consider award shows to be a place to acknowledge what the general public finds popular, not what is actually considered a musical masterpiece. There are times where these two ideas intersect, but very rarely. Along with the fact that music, as with any type of art, is ridiculously subjective, it does come across as very silly that we try to categorize what the best album of the year or song of the year was. With so many albums and songs out there, how is it even possible to make an accurate decision? We all have different inclinations and although these shows are tailored toward a broad audience, I still find it hard to make accurate decisions regarding music without proper evaluation of everything that was released during a certain time, not just what made it onto pop radio. Along with that, there are many instances where one single artist will be nominated for a ridiculous amount of categories, and win in almost all of them. With only a few winners, everyone else is left in the dust, it becomes predictable and dulls the idea that anyone has a chance of winning; because in reality, they don’t. And I’m not even going to get into the superstitions about cursed awards like the Best New Artist award at the Grammys. That’s a topic for another article.
Award shows mean nothing simply because they are a game of popularity, not a game of artistic ability. If they were aimed more at recognizing an artists creative work, all the music on the radio would probably be a lot more interesting, if we’re being honest. And as corny as it sounds, at the end of the day, what truly matters is the support from the fans. A little trophy won’t get you far but a solid fan base will.