Why the Grammys’ All-Encompassing Categories Don’t Encompass Much At All

Disclaimer: I don’t watch the Grammys. I spent about 3 minutes total scrolling through the nominations for 2019. That being said, I noticed some glaring absences.

Here I’ll speak purely from the genre of my specialty—Alternative. There is one Grammy to be won: Best Alternative Album. The nominees are Arctic Monkeys, Beck, David Byrne, and St. Vincent. While I’d argue that St. Vincent’s album is more pop than alternative, a lot can fit under the umbrella of alternative. While I’m sure they are all great albums, are they really the best that have been released this year? Who are amongst these ‘350 musical experts’ that vote on the choices? It sure ain’t Anthony Fantano!

No one is expecting small or local bands to be nominated, or even considered, for an event of this caliber. We saw how the public reacted when Courtney Barnett won Best New Artist in 2016. But the thing is: others are listening. Mitski’s ‘Be the Cowboy’ won Pitchfork Album of the Year. I heard Japanese Breakfast on my way to work. I heard Frankie Cosmos in the dressing room last week. Small alternative bands are now headlining festivals. Now I wonder how long will it take for the Grammys to catch up—because I think we can do a bit better than the Arctic Monkeys.

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