Social Media Continues to Modernize Music Awards

Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamars Grammy performance received a lot of attention on social media.

Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy performance received a lot of attention on social media.

Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar's Grammy performance received a lot of attention on social media.
Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy performance received a lot of attention on social media.

Right now, few people remember who won the Best Video Award at MTV’s Video Music Awards in 2013. Even fewer can recall the artist who won that same award at the VMAs in 2009. And let’s be honest — no one remembers who won Best Cinematography at the Golden Globes in 2013.  However, everyone knows who twerked in 2013, who drunkenly interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009, and how Tina Fey and Amy Poehler redefined the 2013 and 2014 Golden Globes. These instances of infamy and occasional empowerment are the moments of entertainment that truly define award shows. In a world where instantaneous social media reactions fuel tomorrow’s headlines, the Grammy Awards themselves are secondary to the moments—both empowering and embarrassing—that result from the spontaneous mixture of celebrities and music at an award show.

Fifty years ago, the Grammy Awards were  one of the most prestigious events in Hollywood. In the past, this “biggest night in music” celebrated the best works of music of its time and the talented minds who created them. Legends such as the Beatles and Elvis Costello received massive praise for their undeniable talents and in the decades that followed, the event gradually garnered massive media attention. Since then, however, the focus on talented artists and tasteful music has changed. Today, receiving a Grammy is not perceived as the incredible achievement that it was in the past. Nowadays, the Grammy’s—like the majority of other Hollywood award shows—are plagued by the prominence of social media. Consequently, society has transformed the Grammy into an award for outlandish antics rather than raw talent. This year, the show featured entertaining and controversial performances from talented artists of all different genres that  resulted in impressive spikes in sales for some and Twitter-criticisms for others.

Opening the show was power couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé—two seasoned veterans of the Grammy awards who are no strangers to the social media spotlight. The sultry performance of Beyoncé’s new hit “Drunk in Love” was reminiscent of the song’s music video, which has over 60 million views on YouTube. While the singing and rapping of Beyoncé and Jay-Z was on par as usual, this performance was not about the couple’s musical talent. Rather, “Drunk in Love” at the Grammys served as a publicity spectacle showcasing the marriage of music royalty, and was well-received by social media users. The show sponsors and agents knew that can really be trusted to promote the event and the sheer number of presentees there alone showed testimony to that.

Similarly, Seventeen-year-old Lorde was a hot topic on Twitter, as expectations were set high when she announced that her Grammy debut would feature a stripped down version of her number one hit “Royals.” Though the song won her two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year, Lorde ruled the Twittersphere for a different reason—few people praised her successful acquisition of two Grammys while most critiqued her eccentric style, quivering dance moves, and black-painted knuckles. Despite having her talent overlooked, the bizarre spectacle Lorde caused seemed to be a great marketing strategy—her U.S. album sales for Pure Heroine shot up 85% after her performance.

And then there was Taylor Swift. Talented, famous, and a previous Grammy winner herself, Taylor performed well; yet once again, it was neither the vocal talent or impressive piano skills that attracted the attention. Instead, her awkward dancing was the impetus for the internet’s attack on Taylor. In addition to the backlash of Swift’s “headbanging” as she performed her hit song “All Too Well,” footage of Swift’s cringeworthy  dancing ultimately overshadowed her talents and immense success with Red.

Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons’ mashup was undoubtedly the most talked-about performance of the night. The “Radioactive” and “m.A.A.d city” mashup generated an astounding 171,593 tweets per minute, and the performance revitalized the three hour show with flashing strobe lights and deafening drums. Despite leaving the Grammys empty-handed, as he was snubbed by Macklemore, Lamar’s flawless performance proved he is a rapper to be reckoned with.

Lastly, Daft Punk caused quite the scene onstage.  The Electronic duo—one of the biggest winners of the night—performed alongside Pharrell, Stevie Wonder, and Nile Rodgers. The duo’s popularity on social media did not stem from their winnings; rather, Daft Punk received attention on Twitter because they remained silent under their signature helmets throughout the night, leaving Pharrell to accept their awards..

After a night of awards and performances, social media platforms were buzzing. However, they did not focus on Macklemore’s widespread winnings, or Daft Punk’s silent success. Instead, the media focused on critiquing and praising performances. Although winners often receive an increase in sales for their winning songs, those performed have been equally profitable. Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons’ Grammy performance has already been re-released on iTunes, as well as performed on Saturday Night Live. Although not all performers were awarded for their musical talents, the majority generated more buzz than the biggest winners.