UB students discuss upcoming Grammy’s

Opinions range from relevant to redundant


With all of the controversy surrounding this year’s Oscar nominees with the lack of diversity in the nominees, it can be easy to forget that the Grammy’s are right around the corner.

On Feb. 15, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will gather to recognize musical artists representing a wide variety of genres and backgrounds for their contributions to the industry this past year.

Artists rarely mentioned in the same conversations such as Taylor Swift and The Weeknd, or Ed Sheeran and Kendrick Lamar, will be measured up against one another in multiple categories, including the big three: Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year.

So many factors have to be considered when making these winning decisions, from musical composition, to lyrics and instrumentation. But how does one compare the production of a rap album to that of a rock and roll album?

Determining what is truly “best” is a difficult – one may say impossible – task in any art form, particularly when it comes to something as subjective as music, where tastes differ from person to person or even from the same person depending on the day or their mood.

“It’ll be The Weeknd or Taylor Swift,” said Danielle Johnson, a sophomore theatre major. “But here’s the thing: it depends on what your crowd is. Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, their crowds tend to be the same, but then The Weeknd brings in an entirely different crowd and different sound. Taylor Swift is happy and Ed Sheeran is sad, and The Weeknd is like ‘I’m gonna’ make you think a little.’”

If the process of nominating and selecting winners in such an arbitrary fashion proves to be divisive, one thing that can be agreed upon is that the spectacle of the Grammy’s is enough to draw in many viewers.

A self-proclaimed music lover, Elijah Ramsey, a junior applied mathematics major, will be tuning in because he loves to watch his favorite artists perform on the big screen.

“There’s going to be tons of great performances,” he said. “People I actually like are going to be there. I don’t know, I’m kind of excited about this more than anything else.”

Others are less enthused about the latest entry in the award show canon and see it as a self-congratulatory attempt at maintaining relevancy.

“I don’t even worry about it. I don’t give it a second thought. Honestly there’s too many. That’s what I feel like the industry is like, ‘I’m still here! We’re still selling music!’ How many more award shows do they need to pat themselves on the back,” said Andrew Burke, a student in the dental school.

One could argue the point that pop culture has evolved past the bloated award show in the age of the Internet. One need not tune into the actual program when winners and big moments are live tweeted as they occur and videos are made available online immediately after.

“Honestly, my watching of any music video show is when there’s a really big memorable moment, and if they say, ‘Oh my God you have to see this’ they’re gonna have a clip [online],” Johnson said.

The question of relevancy is also raised on the subject of the voting for the winners of the awards. Voting occurs between members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and fans like Johnson feel detached from the whole affair.

Others, such as Sam Dedes, a junior mechanical engineering major, have bigger things to worry about.

“Why do I care?” Dedes said. “It’s not like I made an active input to make sure my favorite artist has won. I’m more concerned about the [presidential] election.”

Regardless of individual feelings on the Grammy’s, millions will still tune in the night after Valentine’s Day, as they have for the past 58 years to celebrate their favorite artist’s victories, mourn their defeats, or simply to be entertained by the music industry’s biggest night.

Millions more will follow the action online or catch up on the news through various online outlets. Either way there is no arguing the pop cultural impact of this institution of the entertainment business.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com

David Tunis-Garcia is an arts staff writer. Arts desk can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com.