The Grammy Awards: Time for a shake-up?

By Hannah Bardsley, First Year Classics.

Harry Styles is the pop idol of a generation: climbing to fame in 2010 with four of his band’s albums to debut at the top position of the US Billboard charts, charting his own success with a bold solo album, and raising an even more impressive 1.2 million pounds for charity from ticket sales.

So why is Harry Styles still without a Grammy award?

By definition, the Grammy awards ought to reward the most accomplished of the music industry, as the Oscars and Emmys do for actors. Still, Harry Styles does not qualify.

We could credit a number of reasons with answering this burning question. For one, the unwise marketing ploy of One Direction as a bubble-gum pop band, with a target audience of teenage girls. This perpetuated stereotype has seen their records rejected by those who believe in strict rules of ‘good’ music and those who discredit the preferences of teenage girls as ludicrous or unworthy of recognition. On a different note, and very much in contrast to his early career, could it be that his new-found rock appeal just isn’t mainstream enough? Out of all of the members, though, Harry has most successfully asserted his own style, with the others appearing somewhat confused in their musical approach.

And so, will the prestigious grammy award ever wind up in the hands of the quasi rock star?

The answer almost doesn’t matter, in spite of what has been said. Harry Styles will survive without a Grammy award.

Many artists of minority groups are affected by so-called ‘snubs’ each and every year and this cannot continue.  Riddled with issues, the Grammys does little to address the issue of a lack of diversity, both on their judging panel and among their selection of nominees. The research of John Vilanova, a professor of Journalism in Pennsylvania, found that black artists are not completely excluded from nominations; however, they, historically, do not win the major awards such as album of the year or artist of the year.

It is important that we stop ourselves from treating this subject as trivial. Neither should we romanticise it and, without sounding like a mouthpiece for the black community, which I am not, it seems absurd that such injustice should be allowed to continue into this decade. Admittedly, the Grammys are attempting to right some of their wrongs in implementing 17 out of 18 of the initiatives offered by their new ‘Diversity Task Force’. However, the audience is still in need of clarity over who exactly is chairing this board, who makes up its members, and how they intend to implement these aforementioned initiatives.

Deborah Dugen, the former CEO of the Academy, has recently brought our attention to just how great the shroud of mystery is surrounding the executive board as she prepares to file a lawsuit against the Academy. Dugen claims she was treated unfairly after being fired for elevating sexual assault allegations. Of course, we cannot take this as an absolute truth; nevertheless, it points to a great deal of friction amongst those making the biggest decisions, from which the audience is unjustly excluded.

By examining the rather frivolous case of Harry Styles and the far more serious issues of racial bias and the injustice to be found in Deborah Dugen’s lawsuit, we can only conclude that the award ceremony scene is in dire need of a shake-up.

Photographs by Hannah Bardsley.

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