The Scammys: Are the Grammy Awards Scamming Artists?

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by Janese (Jayden) Nguyen

“I call them the Scammys,” said music enthusiast, Cynthia Hedemark when asked if she believes if the Grammy Awards — the biggest awards in the music industry — were a scam or not.

Plenty of people are well aware that the Grammys have been scamming artists out of their well-deserved awards for years. Artists like Ariana Grande, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Zayn Malik are worthy of Grammys, as their music has broken many records and they’re popular and well known worldwide. 

Take Korean boy band, Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS) for example. BTS has been rising in popularity since their “Love Yourself” era in 2017, and now in 2022, the boy band has the biggest fandom in the world, which calls themselves the ARMY. 

With many successes and awards under their belt, BTS has been invited to perform and nominated for awards at the Grammys twice in 2021 and 2022. ARMY being a huge fandom brought in a lot of attention to the Grammys since they would be able to see the seven talented Bangtan boys perform. 

Photo from AMY SUSSMAN on GETTY IMAGE of boy band, Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS), at the 2022 Grammys, where they were nominated for the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their song “Butter.”

“I didn’t care much about the Grammys until BTS started to get nominated. And they have been snubbed both times,” said Elena Rivera, a self-proclaimed member of the BTS ARMY.

Knowing that BTS being a part of the Grammys would bring in a lot of attention, the Grammys decided to put BTS’ performance near the end of the program so that the view count for the show could stay up throughout the whole thing.

But the both times that BTS has gone to the Grammys and gotten nominated for their multi-record breaking songs “Dynamite” and “Butter,” they have not won, despite the songs both being really popular and breaking more records than the songs that were nominated also for that award. 

“Dynamite was like a hit overnight,” said Hedemark.

The other songs that were nominated for the same category are also great but they weren’t as well known and played in public, nor were they as groundbreaking. 

BTS not winning the awards that they well deserved caused a lot of emotion in the fandom and confusion across the world. 

As for BTS, after the 2022 reward show ended, they returned back to their hotel room and went live on VLive to talk to ARMY and celebrate that they were still nominated for a Grammy nonetheless. The boys seemed tired and defeated on the live, but still tried to light up the situation for their fans, ARMY, by spending time together on live.

“I watched the live stream right after and they were saying, ‘ARMY, it’s all good,’ but it’s upsetting. It’s the fact that they stayed up. And the time difference (between USA and South Korea) is insane and they stayed up anyways and they only got featured once. Like, you knew you weren’t going to give it to them, so why did you make them stay up for it,” said Rivera.

“At home as a viewer watching the Grammys every year. I’m always like ‘What?!’ Literally. Like every year I’m like ‘What the fuck?!’”

-Ariana Grande, 2019

As Ariana Grande said in her interview with the “Zach Sang Show,” “At home as a viewer watching the Grammys every year. I’m always like ‘What?!’ Literally. Like every year I’m like ‘What the fuck?!’” Ariana Grande Talks About The Grammys

“Grammys suck the life out of artists.” 

-Eminem, 2018

Eminem, a famous American rapper with awards from the Grammys, has also spoken on how the Grammys treat artists in an interview with Kamikaze saying, “Grammys suck the life out of artists.” 

Eminem hints at how the Grammys, like many other awards shows, make artists work really hard for these awards just to not give it to them. Many examples can be pulled out to support this statement like BTS, Ariana Grande, Eminem, Zayn Malik, and many more artists. See Eminem’s Kamikaze Interview for more.

Another popular artist that has been scammed is famous hip hop artist, Kendrick Lamar. In 2014 Kendrick Lamar was nominated for every category for hip hop for his album “To Pimp A Butterfly.” Even though he was nominated for a lot of potential awards, he lost. 

He didn’t win a single award even though he was nominated approximately ten times for the same album.

Hedemark said, “Many can consider that album the best of his work. But he lost to Macklemore, who is not as good as him. Ever since Macklemore’s win at the Grammys over Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore’s career has dropped significantly. Not only because Kendrick lost, but because Macklemore won in a hip-hop category that was predominantly Black.”  

When watching awards shows such as the Grammys, the Oscars, VMAs, etc. it is easy to tell that many people of color are nominated for awards for their music, but tend to lose to artists that are white.

Seeing one’s favorite artists around the world not get the recognition they deserve makes fans emotional on the topic — not only because their favorite artist lost, but because of how race-biased award shows are.

“It makes me angry. It just feels like it’s a bunch of old white guys judging music. People of color have just as much rights in this industry as white artists, and their work isn’t getting recognized in favor of what? Mainstream or whatever, it makes no sense,” said Rivera.

Mainstream

noun

the ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal or conventional; the dominant trend in opinion, fashion, or the arts.

“There’s very, very few candidates of color. And even if they were, they would like never win. There could be some great recognition of some artists who really deserve that recognition. But at the same time, the word I go to is superficial.”

-Kelly Jazior, 10,

Kelly Jazior, a teacher at ChiArts, doesn’t watch many awards shows and has lost interest in the Grammys as she has grown up. Nevertheless, she agreed that the types of nominees were skewed.

“There’s very, very few candidates of color. And even if they were, they would like never win. There could be some great recognition of some artists who really deserve that recognition. But at the same time, the word I go to is superficial,” said Jazior.

It is clear fans notice and feel for the accomplishments of their artists as well as the wrongs in the music award industry. The music award industry seems to always want to let the artists with a more mainstream album or song win.

The process of choosing who gets the award seems really filtered and race biased to the public. But when it comes to mainstream music by people of color, it seems that the music award industry differs the awards from the artists of color and gives the award to the artist who’s white even though their music is less known and not as popular.

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