AMAs and Grammys, Oh My! – Unpacking the Results of 2020s Music Award Shows

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Harry Styles’s “Fine Line” took home Favorite Pop/Rock album at the AMA awards and he received 3 nominations for the 2021 Grammys.

Delaney Coppola, Contributing Writer

The AMAs 2020

The American Music Awards crowned their artists for the year last Sunday, November 22, in Los Angeles, California. Even with the current Corona virus-related restrictions, the ceremony included a limited number of live performances and a small, socially distanced audience as well as, of course, being broadcasted worldwide through the television(CNN). In contrast to the Grammys’ voting system, the AMA winners are based on public opinion, decided by streaming and voting of the song/artist. Some of the deserving winners from the evening included The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber, Kane Brown, Harry Styles, Dan + Shay, and Doja Cat, among many other talented artists. 

Taylor swift tied for three awards with Dan + Shay, Bieber, and The Weeknd and emerged as one of the leading award winners of the night taking home the grand prize award of “Artist of the Year” as well as “Favorite Female Artist Pop/Rock” and “Favorite Music Video” for her song “Cardigan”(theamas.com). Junior Sadie Burm reflects on the recognition of Taylor’s talent exclaiming “Taylor swift won 3 awards at the AMA and I’m SO happy because I’m obsessed with her!” With these three wins, Taylor continues to hold the record for most AMA awards with a total of 32, with the closest artist behind her a whole 8 awards away from her record (variety). Sophomore Katie Sweeney was also excited by Taylor’s awards, commenting, “I’m so excited that Taylor Swift won artist of the year because my sister and I have been listening to her on CDs since

Taylor Swift accepted her 3 AMA awards virtually. Swift also recieved 6 Grammy nominations. (CNN)

we were little!” With 2020 coming quickly to an end, Taylor and many other talented artists received the recognition they deserved this past week at the AMAs.

The Grammys

Following the AMA ceremony on November 22, The Grammys released its 2021 nominations for their upcoming awards on January 26, 2021, which recognize all the top songs and artists of the 2020 year. While the AMA winners are voted by public opinion, members of the musical community, such as producers and record companies decide the Grammy winners (Grammy.com). The 2021 Grammys features 83 categories and hundreds of nominations, including Harry Styles’s “Fine Line” for album of the year. Sophomore Mia Hull expressed her admiration for Styles’ album reflecting “It includes records that are honest and give an insight into the highs and lows of Harry’s life. I believe “Falling” is one of the best records on it because while it is sad, it is raw, and you can see that Harry is being himself.” After her sweeping win at the AMAs, Taylor Swift is once again in the spotlight for this year’s Grammys with 6 nominations. HHS 2019 Alumni Ali Henderson praised Swift as “one of our generation’s greatest artists in her ability to succeed across multiple music genres (most recent being alternative Folklore) and that the misogynistic perspective the media portrayed can’t take away her success.” Junior Sadie Burm also reflected on Swift’s amazing year and gave credit to some of her team who helped her on her journey explaining, “One of her producers Jack Antonoff is up for producer of the year and I also love him so hopefully he wins that!” 

While the release of the nominations engendered excitement for many artists, this year’s list has

The Weekend accepted his 3 AMA awards dressed to represent his recent album. (Emma McIntyre – CBS News)

also sparked a bit of conflict as some deserving artists did not make the cut. Both Jade Weggemen and Matt Hall, juniors, commented on the absence of The Weeknd from the 2021 nominations. As Jade explains, “The Weeknd received no nominations in the awards list for his album After Hours (which had the biggest streaming week for an R&B album ever), or for his 2019 single Blinding Lights that broke the record for most weeks on the Billboard’s top 10.” Matt also shows his support writing, “ I think that artists such as The Weekend deserve much better and it feels like their year-long critical acclaim was almost for nothing as he walked away with 0 nominations.” Jade further comments, “The Grammys tend to favor the generic pop music that will always precede R&B, hip hop, or alternative, which I think is unfair to the artists who produce incredible music within these genres”. Despite his success in the music industry this year, The Weeknd was left empty-handed in the Grammy department. However, he won three categories at the AMAs. The exclusion of the Weeknd among other talented artists caused disagreement in the public and music community, with the Weeknd even expressing their disappointment through a tweet. 

While disappointing for some, the Grammys recognize a lot of talented artists and inspiring musical achievements from the past year, an especially impressive task when factoring in the effect of the pandemic. Junior Jade Weggemen illustrates some of these musicians acknowledging, “I was happy to see Giveon in the list for best r&b album, Freddie Gibbs in the list for Best Rap Album, and Jhené Aiko in Album of the Year.” In a year filled with turmoil, change, and the unknown, there is a lot to be grateful for in the music industry for continuing to inspire and create in these difficult times.