Grammys With A Grain of Salt

The Grammy Awards can be a great way to discover some great new music. The shortlists in many categories can be a good way to suss out music you might not have heard about.

But we have to take the whole thing with a grain of salt.

First, the categories are arbitrary, and sometimes capricious. I mean, genres themselves are really arbitrary – I’d rather just find good music without putting labels on it – but even if you appreciate genre labels as guideposts, the Grammy categories can be less than helpful.

Second, Grammy Awards are rarely an unbiased assessment of quality or skill. How many “Best New Artists” have been outperformed in the long run by the artists who “lost” to them? Popularity, buzz, or a good story go a lot farther towards determining winners.

Take advantage of the awards – and live performances – to guide your listening; but don’t decide what to learn only based on what’s been nominated, and definitely not based on what wins. There’s a lot more great music in the world.