Grammy Award trophies
|Awarded for||Outstanding achievements in the music industry|
|Presented by||The Recording Academy|
The Grammy Awards (stylized as GRAMMY), or simply known as the Grammys, are awards presented by the Recording Academy of the United States to recognize "outstanding" achievements in the music industry. Originally called the Gramophone Awards, as the trophy depicts a gilded gramophone, the first awards ceremony was held on May 4, 1959, to honor the musical accomplishments of performers for the year 1958.
The Grammys are considered one of the four major annual American entertainment awards, alongside the Academy Awards (for films), the Emmy Awards (for television), and the Tony Awards (for theater). As one of the most prominent award ceremonies, the Grammy Awards ceremony is televised to millions of viewers around the world. Although the Grammys have received significant criticism for being over-commercialized and exhibiting biases, they are regarded by many as the most prestigious, significant awards in the music industry worldwide.
The Grammys had their origin in the Hollywood Walk of Fame project in the 1950s. At that time, leading artists in film and television were recognized at the Academy Awards (Oscars) and the Emmy Awards respectively, but there was no equivalent for those in the music industry. As a result, when recording executives on the Walk of Fame committee compiled a list of significant recording industry people who might qualify for a Walk of Fame star, they realized that many leading people in their business would not earn a star on Hollywood Boulevard. They determined to rectify this by creating awards to honor the music industry’s most talented composers, songwriters, and musicians.
After deciding to go forward with such awards, a question remained what to call them. One working title was the "Eddie," to honor Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phonograph. Eventually, the name was chosen after a mail-in contest whereby approximately 300 contestants submitted the name "Grammy," as an abbreviated reference to Emile Berliner's invention, the gramophone, with New Orleans secretary Rosejay “Jay” Elizabeth Danna submitting the first entry suggesting this winning name.
The first Grammys were awarded for achievements in 1958, with 28 Grammys awarded. with the first award ceremony being held simultaneously in two locations on May 4, 1959, the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, and the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City, New York.
The number of awards given grew, at one time reaching over 100, fluctuating over the years with categories added and removed. In particular, after the 2011 ceremony, the Recording Academy overhauled many Grammy Award categories for 2012, reducing the number from 109 to 78. The most substantial change was eliminating the distinction between male and female soloists and between collaborations and duo/groups in various genre fields (pop, rock, rhythm and blues [R&B], country, and rap). Additionally, several instrumental soloist categories were discontinued; recordings in these categories now fall under general categories for best solo performances. Since 2012, small adjustments have been made to lists of categories and genre fields, with the number of awards increasing again to 91.
Latin Grammy Awards
The concept of a separate Grammy Awards for Latin music recorded in Spanish or Portuguese began in 1989, as it was deemed too large to fit on the regular Grammys ceremony. The Recording Academy then established the Latin Recording Academy in 1997, dedicated to nurturing, celebrating, honoring, and elevating Latin music and its creators. The separate Latin Grammy Awards were first held in 2000.
COVID-19 Impact (2021-2022)
The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards were postponed from its original January 31, 2021, date to March 14, 2021, due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on music industry.
The 64th Annual Grammy Awards were also postponed from its original January 31, 2022 date to April 3, 2022, due to health and safety concerns due to the coronavirus. The ceremony was also moved from the Crypto.com Arena (formerly known as the Staples Center) in Los Angeles to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas due to the former having scheduling conflicts with sports games and concerts nearly every night through mid-April.
Before 1971, Grammy Award ceremonies were held in several locations on the same day. Originally New York City and Los Angeles were the host cities. Chicago joined as a host city in 1962 and Nashville became a fourth location in 1965.
The 1971 ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, was the first to take place in one location. In 1972, the ceremony was then moved to Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum in New York City, then moved in 1973 to Nashville's Tennessee Theatre. From 1974 to 2003, the Grammys were held in various venues in New York City and Los Angeles, including New York's Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall; and Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, Staples Center. and Hollywood Palladium.
In 2000, the Crypto.com Arena (known as the Staples Center from 1999 to 2021) became the permanent home of the award ceremonies. The annual awards ceremony at the Crypto.com Arena requires that sports teams like the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Los Angeles Sparks play an extended length of road games.
Since 2000, the Grammy Awards have taken place outside of Los Angeles only three times. New York City's Madison Square Garden hosted the awards in 2003 and in 2018, while the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas hosted in 2022.
The Grammy Museum was built across the street from the Crypto.com Arena in the L.A. Live entertainment complex to preserve the history of the Grammy Awards, opening in December 2008 corresponding to the Grammy Awards' 50th anniversary. Embedded on the sidewalks on the museum streets are bronze disks, similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, to honor each year's top winners, Record of the Year, Best New Artist, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year.
The gold-plated trophies, each depicting a gilded gramophone, are made and assembled by hand at Billings Artworks in Ridgway, Colorado. John Billings originally made all of the Grammys by himself. When he redesigned the statue it was more time-consuming to make and so he added craftsmen to his team. They are made of a special zinc alloy that he developed, named "Grammium," which is smelted in California, and then plated in gold. Billings still does the final assembly of all the pieces, a process that includes lasering unique serial numbers on each one. The trophies each weigh five pounds and four ounces and are nine inches tall.
Trophies engraved with each recipient's name are not available until after the award announcements, so "stunt" trophies are re-used each year for the ceremony broadcast.
Selection and voting
The Grammys' eligibility period runs from October 1 of one year until September 30 of the next year. Records released in the fourth quarter of a given year are not eligible for that year's awards (the submissions and first round ballots are underway at that time). This is despite the quarter falling during the Christmas and holiday season, when many physical albums have been traditionally released and are heavily purchased for holiday gift giving, and when Christmas music is at its natural peak.
Members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), both media companies and individuals, may nominate recordings for consideration. Entries are made and submitted online. When a work is entered, review sessions are held that involve over 150 recording industry experts, to determine that the work has been entered in the correct category.
The resulting lists of eligible entries are then circulated to voting members, each who may vote to nominate in the general fields (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist) and in up to nine out of 30 other fields on their ballots. The five recordings that earn the most votes in each category become the nominees, while in some categories (craft and specialized categories) review committees determine the final five nominees. There may be over five nominees if a tie occurs in the nomination process.
After nominees have been determined, final voting ballots are sent to NARAS voting members, who may then vote in the general fields and in up to nine of the 30 fields. Ballots are tabulated secretly by the independent accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. Winners are announced at the Grammy Awards, where they are presented with a Grammy Award. All nominees receive a Nominee Medallion and Certificate.
The "General Field" are four awards which are not restricted by music genre.
- The Album of the Year award is presented to the performer, featured artists, songwriter(s), and/or production team of a full album if other than the performer.
- The Record of the Year award is presented to the performer and/or production team of a single song if other than the performer.
- The Song of the Year award is presented to the songwriter(s) of a single song.
- The Best New Artist award is presented to a promising breakthrough performer (or performers) who in the eligibility year releases the first recording that establishes their public identity (which is not necessarily their first proper release).
Other awards are given for performance and production in specific genres and for other contributions such as artwork and video. Special awards are also given for longer-lasting contributions to the music industry.
Because of the large number of award categories (78 in 2012, 81 in 2013, and 82 in 2014), and a desire to feature several performances by various artists, only awards with the most popular interest – typically about 10 to 12, including the four general field categories and one or two categories in the most popular music genres (i.e., pop, rock, country, and rap) – are presented directly at the televised award ceremony. Most other Grammy trophies are presented in a pre-telecast "Premiere Ceremony" in the afternoon before the Grammy Awards telecast.
From time to time, a Special Merit Award is awarded to recognize "individuals or groups for ongoing contributions and influence in the recording field." The first "Legend Awards" were presented in 1990, with four individuals being honored: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Liza Minnelli, Willie Nelson, and Smokey Robinson.
Salute to Industry Icons Award
The Salute to Industry Icons Award honors those who have made innovative contributions to the music industry. Recipients include: Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, Irving Azoff, Martin Bandier, Sir Richard Branson, Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Clive Davis, Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen, Berry Gordy, Lucian Grainge, Jay-Z, Debra L. Lee, Doug Morris, Mo Ostin, Antonio L.A. Reid, and Clarence Avant.
The Grammy Awards show includes a special "In Memoriam" segment which honors those in the recording industry who died in the past year:
We cannot fully acknowledge excellence within our community without reflecting on the contributions and accomplishments of our members who are no longer with us. Here, we remember all of the past GRAMMY Award recipients and Special Merit Awards honorees who we have unfortunately lost in the past year. Let us continue to celebrate their inspirational journeys, the music they created, and the works of art they brought to life.
TV broadcasts and ratings
Before the first live Grammys telecast in 1971 on ABC, a series of filmed annual specials in the 1960s called The Best on Record was broadcast on NBC. The first Grammy Award telecast took place on the night of November 29, 1959, as an episode of the NBC anthology series NBC Sunday Showcase, which normally was devoted to plays, original TV dramas, and variety shows.
Before 1971, awards ceremonies were held in both New York and Los Angeles, with winners accepting at one of the two venues. Television producer Pierre Cossette bought the rights to broadcast the ceremony from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and organized the first live telecast. CBS bought the rights in 1973 after moving the ceremony to Nashville, Tennessee; the American Music Awards were created for ABC by the late Dick Clark as a result.
In 2016, the Grammys became the first awards show to regularly air live annually in all U.S. territories. Alongside the Academy Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, and Tony Awards, the Grammy Awards shows air live in over 150 countries worldwide.
Impact on record sales
When the televised Grammys came into renown in 1975, a relationship between Grammy Award winners and subsequent record sales began. However, it was not until after 1984 that Grammy recipients' records showed a substantial increase in sales. This was largely due to an agreement made by National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) and the National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM). Under this agreement "record labels provided stickers, posters and other point-of-purchase material emblazoned 'Grammy Nominee' or 'Grammy Award Winner' that retailers could use to improve marketing effects."
The Grammys have been criticized for generally awarding or nominating more commercially successful albums rather than critically successful ones.
In 1991, Sinead O'Connor became the first musician to refuse a Grammy, boycotting the ceremony after being nominated for Record of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance. O'Connor would go on to win the latter award. She explained her refusal of the award:
The reason I wanted to pull out was because I believe very much that the music industry as a whole is concerned mainly with material success. A lot of artists are responsible for encouraging the belief among people that material success will make them happy. I think one of the ways that the industry encourages commercial success and materiality is by having award ceremonies, which very much honor those who have achieved material success rather than people who’ve told the truth or who’ve done anything to pass information to people, or to inspire people, or to just be truthful about anything.
The Grammys have been criticized for snubbing awards to some nominated artists, particularly those representing change in popular culture.
For example, at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards held on February 28, 1996, artist Mariah Carey was nominated for six awards for her album Daydream, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for her single "One Sweet Day". Although critics believed Carey would be "cleaning up" that year, Carey ultimately lost in all her nominated categories that night, much to the shock of critics and Carey herself.
In 2011, Los Angeles Times journalist Randall Roberts criticized the exclusion of Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy from Album of the Year nominations for the 54th Grammy Awards. He described West's album as "the most critically acclaimed album of the year, a career-defining record." Roberts went on to criticize the Grammy Awards for being "mired in the past" and out of touch with "new media" and trends among music listeners such as music sharing, stating:
The major nominations for the 54th annual awards clearly show that the recording academy has been working overtime to be all-inclusive, but more significantly, they also reveal a deep chasm between its goals and the listening habits of the general population...The focus is still on the old music industry model of cash-cow hits, major label investments and commercial radio.
Music executive and author Steve Stoute criticized the Recording Academy and the Grammy Awards for having "lost touch with contemporary popular culture" and noted "two key sources" for this:
(1) over-zealousness to produce a popular show that is at odds with its own system of voting and (2) fundamental disrespect of cultural shifts as being viable and artistic.
Stoute accused the academy of snubbing artists with more cultural impact, citing respective losses by the critical and commercial successes in Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) and Kanye West's Graduation (2007) in the Album of the Year category:
As an institution that celebrates artistic works of musicians, singers, songwriters, producers and technical specialists, we have come to expect that the Grammys upholds all of the values that reflect the very best in music that is born from our culture. Unfortunately, the awards show has become a series of hypocrisies and contradictions, leaving me to question why any contemporary popular artist would even participate. ... While there is no doubt in my mind of the artistic talents of Steely Dan or Herbie Hancock, we must acknowledge the massive cultural impact of Eminem and Kanye West and how their music is shaping, influencing and defining the voice of a generation. It is this same cultural impact that acknowledged the commercial and critical success of Michael Jackson's Thriller in 1984.
In their defense, the Recording Academy states that nominees and winners are determined solely by Voting Members of the Recording Academy, who are active creative professionals "involved in the creative and technical processes of recording," and that "members are directed to vote only in their areas of expertise."
Accusations of racial bias
The Grammys were criticized after the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, held on February 12, 2017, when Adele's 25 won Album of the Year over Beyoncé's album Lemonade, which many music publications believed should have won the award. The Atlantic's Spencer Kornhaber accused the Grammys of "sidelining a black visionary work in favor of a white traditionalist one." USA Today also criticized Beyoncé's loss stating that "Black artists have struggled to win album of the year," suggesting that 25 won only due to the album's record-breaking sales rather than having cultural significance and the large impact that Lemonade had in 2016.
Adele also expressed that Lemonade should have won over her for Album of the Year, stating in her acceptance speech:
I can’t possibly accept this award. And I’m very humbled and I’m very grateful and gracious. But my artist of my life is Beyoncé. And this album to me, the Lemonade album, is just so monumental. Beyoncé, it’s so monumental. And so well thought out, and so beautiful and soul-baring and we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let us see. And we appreciate that. And all us artists here adore you. You are our light.
In 2019, for the first time, rap artists won major award nominations outside the rap categories when Childish Gambino won the first Song and Record of the Year awards ever for a rap song.
Hispanic and Latino Americans are under-represented at the Grammy Awards, and their music is prone to be shifted to the categories of the Latin Grammy Awards unless they have a mainstream following.
In April 2022, the late Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar was omitted from the "In Memoriam" segment, and the nation's domestic media criticized the Grammys and Oscars for their Western-centric view of artists receiving attention over those throughout the rest of the world.
Discrimination against women
The Grammys have also been criticized for their treatment of female artists specifically. Notably at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2018, New Zealand singer Lorde made headlines after turning down an offer to perform at the ceremony. She suggested that she was invited to perform alongside several other artists in a tribute to Tom Petty but was refused a solo slot, despite being nominated for the Album of the Year award and stated that each male nominee was allowed a solo performance. Several media outlets reported that the 2018 ceremony had failed women, specifically pointing to the most nominated female artist SZA who failed to win in any of her five nominated categories, and to the Best Pop Solo Performance category which included four female nominees but was won by Ed Sheeran.
Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, sparked controversy after stating in an interview that female artists needed to "step up" in order to win awards. Portnow's comments were criticized by many female musicians including Pink, Katy Perry, Vanessa Carlton, Sheryl Crow, Iggy Azalea, Halsey, and Charli XCX.
Despite past controversies, female artists dominated the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards held in 2021, with the big four awards being awarded entirely to women. Several women also broke records at that ceremony.
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ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Ashley, Faulkner. The GRAMMYs: GRAMMY Award History, Fun Facts and More for Fans. Independently published, 2021. ISBN 979-8789781944
- Ehrlich, Ken. At the Grammys!: Behind the Scenes at Music's Biggest Night. Hal Leonard, 2007. ISBN 978-1423430735
- Nickson, Chris. Mariah Carey Revisited. Griffin, 1998. ISBN 978-0312195120
All links retrieved February 19, 2023.
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