The people should choose who wins a Grammy, not the Academy.

Winning a Grammy is every musician's dream. It’s viewed as a right of passage, a recognized marker of success and one of the most anticipated moments of an artist's career. But because of the Grammys' odd and unethical approach to its nominations, it's completely flawed and shouldn't be viewed as the biggest accomplishment for musicians.

The voting process for the Grammys isn’t adequate enough to determine who the top artists of the year are. Unlike most music award processes, the Grammys don’t leave it up to the people to cast votes on who they believe is deserving of an award. Winners are chosen by what’s called a special nominating committee, also known as the Academy. The Academy is made up of creators in the recording industry. This year’s Academy is made up of 9 members and a moderator. With 84 categories and hundreds of nominees, that’s an excessive amount of decision making power being given to few people within the recording industry.

The 2020 Grammy nominations faced an ample amount of backlash. People took to social media to discuss their shock when The Weeknd didn’t receive any Grammy nominations. The Weeknd’s hit single “Blinding Lights” broke many records this year, yet the Academy failed to recognize him. Even breaking the record for most weeks in the Hot 100 Top 5 couldn’t secure a nod from the Academy.

This isn’t the first time people have been shocked with Grammy nominations and winners. During the 2014 Grammy Awards, the best rap album of the year nominees were made up of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Drake, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. With a lineup stacked full of Grammy veterans, Macklemore took home the trophy for his album “The Heist”. 

Although “The Heist” included major hits like “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us”, it seemed rather odd that he won against so many renowned artists who had been recognized in the music industry for much longer than Macklemore had been at that time. The news of his Grammy win was such a surprise that even Macklemore himself said that Lamar was robbed of a Grammy award. Lamar has been in the rap game since 2004 and is part of the Billboard 10 Best Rappers of All Time list.

In 2012, Nicki Minaj was nominated for best new artist. She lost against Bon Iver even though she had 7 songs that made the Billboard charts that year. Minaj lost to the indie folk band Bon Iver that year. Minaj was the most influential female rapper at the time and didn’t get the recognition she deserved. After this year’s nominees were released, Minaj tweeted to never forget her loss against Bon Iver, even though she inspired a generation. 

There’s such a lack of transparency when it comes down to who’s nominated and who wins. For an award that’s placed on such a high pedestal, it would make sense to let the people choose who’s nominated and who wins. The Billboard Music Awards, The American Music Awards, and the MTV Music Awards are all voted on by fans, reflecting what the public actually thinks about the artists that are nominated. 

Letting music fans cast votes would be more representative of who’s successful and deserving of a Grammy award. If music fans are the ones consuming the music and ultimately placing songs on the charts, they should have a say in who wins the most prestigious awards within the music industry.

Mastan Rashid is a sophomore media arts and design major. Contact Mastan at rashi2mx@dukes.jmu.edu