“Even if I don’t win a Grammy, I still get to go home with my Grammy!” That was the brilliant pun that pop star Katy Perry quipped to red carpet Ryan Seacrest right before the awards ceremony on Sunday. “Grammy, do you know who this is?” asked Perry, motioning towards Seacrest. “Yes,” said Grammy, “I recognize him from…”
Enter the elongated, awkward pause.
See? We like the Grammy Awards because they’re fun. People say they’re irrelevant, they’re inconsequential, they’re worthless — but no one has tried to convince the public that they’re not fun. We dare you to argue that last Sunday’s spectacle was not entertaining. Anyone? No? Of course it was.
In our increasingly social-media-crazed culture, half the amusement of the Grammys was the conversation happening on a second-by-second basis. And when the uber-popular, radio-ready musical artists like Eminem, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Drake didn’t win the most high caliber awards, the shit hit the twittering fan.
The blog whoisarcadefire.tumblr.com was born just moments after the band shocked everyone by winning Album of the Year over Em, Gags and Katy. When Esperanza Spalding took Best New Artist instead of the predicted Biebs or Drake, “Beliebers” took some severe liberties editing Spalding’s Wikipedia page. (To no one’s surprise, especially not Selena Gomez.
With all the drama surrounding these two “alternative” winners in categories that most teeny-boppers readily assume are tailor-made for top 10 artists, we decided to take a look at Grammys past and blow your minds with this fun little fact:
Over the past 10 years, the only “Best New Artist” winner that was strictly associated with chart-topping pop music was Christina Aguilera in 2000. Since then, easy listening singer Norah Jones beat out Ashanti and Avril Lavigne, rock band Evanescence won over 50 Cent and Sean Paul, R&B singer John Legend took home the award instead of Ciara and Fall Out Boy, and soulful songstress Adele won big time over the Jonas Brothers.
There’s no question that Spalding has the artistry and musical talent to validate her win. Though unknown to most, her sudden impact and presence on the jazz world made her the first jazz musician to win the award.
We aren’t redefining the Grammys here — even past winners of the most prestigious award haven’t all been pop artists. Sure, they’re popular, but aside from Taylor Swift’s win in 2010 for “Fearless” and OutKast’s 2004 win for “Speakerboxx/The Love Below,” not many recipients appeal to the younger audiences. Boppers, sit tight til the VMAs — we promise you’ll feel validated then.
So why is there so much anger and passion towards this year’s nominees for both “worthless, irrelevant” awards? Chalk it up to merely a need to say something on social media (we’re looking at you, Bieber’s 7 million Twitter followers). While Spalding only has around 5,000 followers, her Grammy is anything but inconsequential, even if it’s not, strictly, “pop.”
You know what they say: “Never say never.”
Allison Berger is a Philadelphia-based writer and a Pop music columnist for Reverb. Check out more of her writing here.