1. Bob Marley never won a Grammy in his lifetime.
Though he was posthumously awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2001 Grammys.
2. And neither did Jimi Hendrix.
Though he, too, won several awards after his death.
3. But guess who DID win a Grammy?
The Baha Men won a Grammy in 2001 for “Who Let The Dogs Out?”
4. Jay Z and Beyoncé are tied in their Grammy wins, each with 17 trophies at home.
But Jay Z is likely to surpass his lady this year, as Beyoncé was released too late to qualify for this year’s awards.
5. And though it may not seem like it — given how much he complains about the Grammys — Kanye is actually the 8th most-decorated winner in Grammy history.
He has won 21 Grammy awards and been nominated 53 times (!!), including his two nominations this year for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song.
6. And the person with the record for the MOST awards goes to Hungarian conductor Sir Georg Solti.
Solti won a whopping 31 awards before he passed away in 1997.
So, how does this all come together?
7. There are two rounds of voting by the Recording Academy before the actual nominations.
8. In order to be eligible to be a “Voting Member” of the Academy, you must be a professional in the industry with creative or technical credits on six official releases.
Recording Academy voting members are professionals with creative or technical credits on six commercially released tracks (or their equivalent). These may include vocalists, conductors, songwriters, composers, engineers, producers, instrumentalists, arrangers, art directors, album notes writers, narrators, and music video artists and technicians.
9. There are currently more than 21,000 members in the Academy, of which 12,000 are voting members.
10. But there’s also a secret committee that’s allowed to alter the voting members’ nominations — which can be both a good thing and a bad thing.
The secret group consists of music executives, performers, producers, songwriters and journalists, and meets every December in L.A. to go over the top 20 nominations submitted by the voters. The group is granted the final say over who makes the five slots for album of the year, record of the year, song of the year, and best new artist, as well as the country, R&B, gospel, jazz, classical, and music video categories.
The good: Albums and artists who might not have been commercially successful on a mainstream scale have a fighting chance to win an award and be recognized for its merit.
The bad: It negates what’s supposed to be a democratic voting process in which every vote matters, and can become a manipulative practice that some people believe is used to draw viewers to the televised show.
11. The committee was established in the mid-’90s, in order to avoid potentially embarrassing albums or songs from winning.
Michael Greene, who was the acting president and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences at the time, created the panel in order to give the Grammys credibility after the awards were criticized for only recognizing the most mainstream, conservative music. The catalyst for the change was the classical music community’s outrage over The Three Tenors’ live concert album being nominated for album of the year in 1994, which classical critics had panned, though it was commercially successful.
“The fact is that in many cases, when you look at what we’re supposed to be doing — rewarding excellence — popularity and sentimentality were sprinkled through the top four categories regularly,” Greene told the L.A. Times in 1996.
So, now the secret panel aims to tweak the nominations, so that songs like “Macarena” don’t get nominated for record of the year, as one anonymous committee member told the L.A. Times in 1999. (Like, can you imagine “Harlem Shake” being nominated? Whew.)
12. But even with the secret panel’s help, many voters in the final round end up voting in categories they know nothing about.
After the secret panel has whittled down the voters’ nominations down to the final set, all members participate in the final vote for the top four prizes, as well as up to 20 more categories — many in areas that the voter may know nothing about.
Complex senior editor Rob Kenner recently revealed that he is a voting member in the Academy and broke down the voting process on the site, explaining:
“Bottom line: the vast majority of the nominations are chosen by people who have little real expertise in a given field. I refrained from voting in heavy metal and classical because I know very little about those genres. But I could have if I wanted to, and that strikes me as a problem.”
So, if you’re yelling at your TV on Sunday, asking why?! how?! Macklemore could win Album of the Year…
… now you know.
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