The Green Hope Falcon

What The Oscars Are Doing Right…
and What The Grammys Are Doing Wrong

Alec Critser, Editor

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Last Sunday, all of Hollywood gathered at the Dolby Theater to award the highest honors in cinema, the Oscars. At the end of the big show, Spotlight, an incredible movie about highlighting a widespread issue using investigative journalism, took home the best picture award, and rightfully so. It was the best picture of the year. I was very happy overall with the selections by the Academy, especially Leonardo DiCaprio’s long overdue best actor Oscar, Spotlight’s deserving big win, and Mad Max: Fury Road’s deserved awards for its editing and production. However, when I watched the Grammys two weeks ago, I could not say the same thing.
As I watched the Grammys, I was appalled to see some of the winners and who was overlooked. Meghan Trainor over Courtney Barnett? Skrillex and Diplo’s Jack Ü over Jamie xx’s In Colour? The worst offense of the night was choosing Taylor Swift’s 1989 over Kendrick Lamar’s hip-hop masterpiece To Pimp A Butterfly.. Kendrick’s album was undeniably the best album of the year, featuring a wide array of musical styles and influences, a relevant and powerful message, and incredible production and rapping from the best rapper of today.

However, a slightly above-average synthpop album with decent hooks won. Why? Because it’s more accessible. The Grammys are a popularity contest, and Taylor Swift’s complete domination of the airwaves and pop culture is why she was able to snag the biggest accolade of the year. Was 1989, an album filled with gigantic pop hits and some filler, a better album than To Pimp A Butterfly, a sprawling, expansive, meaningful magnum opus? The answer is simply no.

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The Oscars, however, actually reward artistic value in movies and do not care about the popularity of its nominees. Films nominated for best picture such as Room and Brooklyn were amazing films, but not box office hits (Room was one of the lowest grossing best picture nominees in a really long time). Some movie-goers may not even be aware of Brooklyn, but the Oscars do not penalize obscurity like the Grammys award popularity; the Oscars simply award the best films, regardless if they were box office successes like Mad Max: Fury Road (incredible film, by the way) or under the radar critical favorites like Room. This year, they succeeded in their task, choosing a unanimously praised and extremely well acted film, Spotlight, for their highest honor.

If the Oscars were like the Grammys, then movies such as The Avengers or Furious 7 would win best picture. Can you imagine a world where a movie that features someone driving a car out of a skyscraper into another skyscraper wins best picture over a movie like Spotlight or The Revenant? Well, that world exists for musicians. The Grammys have even drawn criticism from their own winning musicians, including Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, who went on Twitter to blast the awards show for their extremely poor way of choosing the recipients.

I implore the Recording Academy, who I seriously doubt will be reading a website run by a high school in North Carolina, to please, please, please change the award nominating and voting process. There are so many incredible artists and musicians ignored by the Grammys this year, and most years in the past as well.

The only album I can think of that actually deserved the album of the year award is Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, and that was close to five years ago. Big name artists like Taylor Swift already have all the money and fame in the world, so let the artists who actually made incredible music have the awards they deserve.

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What The Oscars Are Doing Right…
and What The Grammys Are Doing Wrong