Each year, music hopefuls both old and new arrive at the prestigious Grammy Award ceremony to see who this year's sweeping sensation will be. British pop-soul star Adele wowed the critics at this year's event, taking home six awards and beating out radio pop heavyweights Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Bruno Mars. So what makes an artist stand out to the judging panel? Why hasn't your favorite artist won a Grammy, and why does the same artist win multiple awards? Here are five things to know about how the annual music awards work:
1. Record sales don't count. The Recording Academy, who selects and presents the awards each year, do not acknowledge sales or chart positions when determining the winners. According to the ceremony's official website, the Academy makes its decisions based on artistic or technical achievement. Like any honorable award should be, this keeps the selection process impartial and prevents bias. If record sales were taken into account, the decision would be largely fan-based rather than Academy chosen.
2. The Grammys are described as a peer honor. This means that the panel of voters are technical experts in the field that they are voting for. And of course it's important to make sure the judging panel is well-versed in the genre that they are voting for, but the significance of having equal working professionals as voters goes way deeper than that. The peer honor aspect also contributes to the impartial component of the selection process-holding the voters up to the same standards as the nominees helps balance the scale. The public can rest assured that voting members aren't old-fashioned music executives without a taste for new sounds or naïve uninformed fans.
3. Just because an artist hasn't won a Grammy doesn't mean they aren't influential in the music world. Remember that the Grammy Awards are only one ceremony and only one platform of musical respect. The Grammys are geared towards overall recognition in all musical fields, which makes it difficult and impossible to acknowledge every significant sensation to happen to the music world. Ground breaking artists such as Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Jimi Hendrix have never won a Grammy Award.
4. There is a screening process separating submissions from the nominees. Record companies and Academy members can submit content, but it isn't officially nominated until it goes through the screening process. This incorporates over 150 experts in various fields, and voters are only allowed to cast ballots in areas of their expertise.
5. One of the most important things to know about Grammy selection, beyond the technical aspects, is that the award seeks to honor music's next big thing. Taking all factors into consideration (talent, songwriting, production quality, content), the award is meant to recognize influential artists in the grand scheme of popular music. Let's take this year's champion, Adele, for example. There's no doubt that competitors Rihanna, Mumford & Sons and Bruno Mars have had just as much radio play and may be just as popular. But Adele took the soul genre and popularized it by combining it with the pop genre in a way that really resonated with listeners. The 23-year-old singer also breaks the mold of typical female pop stars that use their sex-appeal as part of their image, proving that talent can prevail over commercialized appearance. This can also explain why the same artist typically takes home numerous awards.Since the Grammys look at the big picture when it comes to musical talent--doesn't it make sense that Record of the Year and Album of the Year go to the same artist?
So before you grumble and moan about your favorite band lacking nomination, or claim that award shows are fixed, try to take into account the factors leading up to the big ceremony. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes before the stars show up on the red carpet.