The completed list for the 59th Grammys Awards 2017 was recently revealed, and what is missing are the rock bands and baby boomer guitar acts (Willman, 2016). It is no surprise to everyone that The Grammys has been detached from rock since mid ‘00s (Brodsky, 2016). The 5 artists who are nominated for the Grammys next year are all R&B and hip hop artists, with Beyonce at the top with 9 nominations, followed by Drake, Rihanna, Kanye West and Chance The Rapper (Willman, 2016). The nominations for the album of the year could have been Radiohead or David Bowie but no rock band has been voted to the top, they do, however, belong in the Rock sub categories, alongside with “alternative” categories.

Another issue raised in the 59th Grammys lists are that the majority of Pop artists nominations are white, excluding a few nominations for Beyonce and Rihanna. The Best Pop Vocal Album includes Adele, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato and Sia, who are white artists. Frank Ocean, a well-known R&B rapper and songwriter, has expressed his opinions about The Grammys not representing black artists, “That institution certainly has nostalgic importance. It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down” (Adejobi, 2016). He added, only a few black artists have won the Grammys since 1987, the year he was born. We do not want to even bother to mention if any Asian artists have won the Grammys award. Inevitably, the problem about Grammys being racist has arisen for a decade or more, looking back on 2015, according to the Rollingstone magazine, there was no artists of colour nominated for Best New Artists or Record of the Year (Cepeda, 2015).

This raised awareness to the audiences and artists who are participating in the Grammy Awards, which is an American television programme for musicians to be voted, performed and achieved the titles. Does the award represent all aspects of the music industry or just the popularity? Who decide which album is the best album of the year? If we consider the issue of large recording corporate and radio station who are making millions out of their pop artists and catchy tunes rather than the real meaning of music itself. The Grammys is an example of how the hierarchy is established within the music itself, as popular songs are considered “good” because there are more votes putting into it, whereas other genres such as rock are put aside as they are simply not “pop”.

The Grammys Award presents music as a more visual medium, it serves the purpose of entertaining the audiences from all around the world. “Merchandisers came to rely on the Grammy awards as their sales cue, and began to aggressively promote nominees and winners. As a result of the retailers’ selective attention, Grammy award-winners began enjoying greater popular appeal through increased album sales” (Watson and Anand, 2006). Thus, there is a significant impact on whether the artists get their Grammy awards, it is not just a title but also a revenue. The problem of race and rock in the Grammy Academy needs to be addressed more seriously and hopefully in the future there will be more rock artists of colour to be represented in the list.


Willman, C. (2016) 2017 Grammy Nominations Signal a ‘New Reality’

Available at:  [Accessed by 14 December 2016]

Brodsky, R. (2016) The Grammys Still Have a Rock (and Race) Problem

Available at: [Accessed by 14 December 2016]

Adejobi, A. (2016) #GrammysSoWhite: Frank Ocean confirms Grammys 2017 boycott

Available at: [Accessed by 14 December 2016]

Cepeda, R. (2015) Do the Grammys Have a Race Problem?

Available at: [Accessed by 14 December 2016]

Watson, M. and Anand, N. (2006) Award ceremony as an arbiter of commerce and canon in the popular music industry, Cambridge University Press, Volume 25, Issue 1



  1. Your article points out the problems that have always existed. I think this race problems can not only be seen in the Grammy Awards, but also in Oscar Awards which has received criticise about lack of diversity in the nomination and caused a lot of controversy.
    Apart from white priority problems in the Grammy, according to the data in Wiki, it has also been criticised for generally awarding or nominating more commercially successful albums rather than critically successful albums.Therefore, as you mentioned in this blog that as a visual medium which has influential worldwide like Grammys Award is, the the problem of equalisation has to be addressed more seriously when selecting what they are going to broadcast to their wide audience.
    When is it going to change despite we are living in a modern society with relatively progress in the 21st century today?
    Just like the Billboard magazine has suggested, “Grammy jury is still white, and is still dominated by respected old man over the past three or four years. we can see some changes – minorities, women and The number of young judges is increasing – but the Grammys still have a long way to go. “

  2. The issue of boxing music into categories based on popularity rather than musicianship and artistic integrity is culture that has lived in the music industry for a very long time. Race inequality is still rife within the music industry and it will take a very long time until this changes – if it ever does. The likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna with their undeniably flawless talents mentioned in your blog are amongst the few black artists who do enjoy recognition in this cutthroat industry. However, I would suggest delve into the notion of maintaining identity especially for black artists, rock stars and all the other artists of colour.

  3. The issue discussed in this discussion is currently taking place in the industry. There are various academic papers on how R&B is having an identity crisis due to many reasons, one of which being racial issues. You could perhaps look into that and compare it with how racial profiling still exists in the industry and how they can be linked through different ways, across a range of genres.

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