For as long as there have been music awards, there have been musicians with opinions about those music awards, and the Grammys are no exception. Depending on your point of view, Arcade Fire trumping commercial heavyweights Lady Gaga, Eminem and Katy Perry for Album of the Year at last year’s ceremony was either the event’s salvation or the moment it jumped the shark.
That polarizing victory reignited a decades-old debate about the relevance and future direction of the awards show. Grammy nominees — and Grammy wannabes — have long argued over whether the music industry’s most prestigious trophy has become meaningless in the face of commercialization, and whether an artist’s sales figures and cultural impact should be taken into account when choosing Grammy winners. Jump below to see 10 of the most famous Grammy beefs in recent memory.
1. Bon Iver
Justin Vernon, the 30-year-old front man of folk-rock outfit Bon Iver, became an unlikely poster boy for the anti-Grammys debate this year when he questioned the relevance of the awards in an interview with the New York Times following Arcade Fire’s big win. He told the paper that in the event he ever won a Grammy award he would accept it but offer this speech: “Everyone should go home, this is ridiculous. You should not be doing this. We should not be gathering in a big room and looking at each other and pretending that this is important.”
2. Soulja Boy
The man behind “Crank Dat” lost the Grammy for Best Rap Song to Kanye West in 2008 — and still hasn’t come to terms with it. Not only did Soulja tell the Associated Press in January that he “should have got that Grammy” four years after his big loss, the 21-year-old rapper recorded a song about it, titled (what else?) “Grammy”. On it, he muses, “Am I not good enough? What do you want from me?” Listen below.
3. Trent Reznor
The Nine Inch Nails front man, and Academy Award-winning The Social Network score composer, has publicly declared that the Grammy Awards “don’t mean anything” — despite being nominated 12 times and winning twice. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter last December, Reznor said the Awards “feel rigged and cheap… like a popularity contest that the insiders club has decided,” He later elaborated to MTV that the Grammys are “out of touch” and that the winner selection process is “not about integrity, or if [the music] is ahead of its time, or if it’s taking chances.”
A nomination snub is a surefire way to prompt an anti-Grammy tirade, just look to rising R&B star and “Girls Like You” singer Miguel for an example. After the 53rd Grammy nominations were unveiled in November, Miguel took to Twitter to vent his frustrations. “I’m F*cking Pissed Yo,” he tweeted. “I don’t think I’m Gods gift to music but I know the Album or at LEAST ‘Sure Thing’ should have been Nominated.”
5. Jill Scott
This year, like Miguel, Jill Scott jumped on Twitter when her album The Light Of The Sun was overlooked by the Grammy committee. “0 nominations. I’m speechless. Cover of Billboard, #1 cd in the country, tied/broke the record for Urban radio. Ok…so…ok. Wow.” The 39-year-old “So In Love” siren also stood up for fellow-overlooked diva Beyoncé, tweeting, “excuse me?!?!? No ‘Love on Top?’ This can’t be right.”
6. Kanye West
Even though Yeezy leads this year’s Grammy nominations with seven nods, the Donda CEO still went H.A.M. on voters in a recent Twitter rant, calling their decisions completely “illogical.” Kanye’s beef with the Grammys first started to sizzle in a 2010 interview with Access Hollywood. “Where’s our instant replay clock?” the “N*ggas In Paris” hit-maker asked. “Why are the last four Albums of the Year: Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks, Ray Charles and Herbie Hancock? Like, you know, with all due respect… that’s inaccurate.”
When asked which albums deserved to win that year, he suggested Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds and Usher’s Confessions. “How about albums that sold 10 million?” he said. “These people, whoever run them… they have to take some responsibility to say what really happened in culture this year because we’re marking it down.”
7. Sinead O’Connor
Way back in 1990, controversial Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor refused to accept her Best Alternative Music Performance award for I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got in protest of the “extreme commercialization” of the ceremony. To this day, the “Nothing Compares 2 U” singer remains the only artist to turn down a trophy.
Jonny Greenwood, guitarist for the several-times-nominated English rock band Radiohead, isn’t quite sure what to make of the Grammy Awards, but it’s easy to see why when you consider the source. After landing two more Grammy nominations this year, including Best Alternative Album for The King Of Limbs, Greenwood confessed to the Associated Press: “I’m confused because whenever I watch The Simpsons they’re very rude about the Grammys … It’s hard to know how important they are!”
In 2009, Terius Nash a.k.a The-Dream and the man behind Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”, let his anger rip on Twitter when he failed to get any Grammy nomination love. He explained his outburst, saying: “When I see the names nominated, I’m saying, ‘Are you saying my name don’t belong with the people in this category?’ Come on, man. Somebody isn’t listening.”
Dream felt the Grammys selection committee overlooked his achievements both as a recording artist and as a producer, tweeting, “I almost forgot the Producer Of The Year. To not be in that category is crazy. Nobody released more titles. It’s not even close.”
The “Umbrella” songwriter continued: “I should be able to get nominated or be able to win based off the strength of music — if we’re talking about the best music. If it’s a popularity contest, let’s just say it’s a popularity contest.”
10. Wu-Tang Clan
Long before Kanye West infamously interrupted Taylor Swift’s VMAs acceptance speech in 2009, PO-ed performers were already storming the stage when they disagreed with awards decisions. In 1998, Wu-Tang Clan MC Ol’ Dirty Bastard commandeered the Grammys stage during Shawn Colvin’s acceptance speech for Record of the Year. The iconic rapper was less-than-impressed that the Wu crew had been overlooked, and pointed out that their music was “for the kids” — i.e. popular and therefore more worthy of a Grammy Award. Relive this magical moment below.
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