Top 10 Artists Who Have Criticized The Grammys
VOICE OVER: AS
Script written by QV Hough
Many people respect and admire the Grammy Awards, yet others think they are fundamentally flawed. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Artists Who Have Criticized the Grammys.
For this list, we're focusing on notable musicians who have either boycotted the annual Grammy Awards or made negative public statements about the event.
Top 10 Artists Who Have Criticized the Grammys
Many people respect and admire the Grammy Awards, yet others think they are fundamentally flawed. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Artists Who Have Criticized the Grammys.
For this list, we’re focusing on notable musicians who have either boycotted the annual Grammy Awards or made negative public statements about the event.
#10: 50 Cent
In 2003, Curtis Jackson became a pop culture superstar. His debut album “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” was a commercial success, featuring the hit singles “In Da Club,” and “21 Questions”, and he even later made a biopic in which he played himself. At the 2004 Grammys, however, 50 received a big surprise when Evanescence won for Best New Artist, and he actually strolled across the stage as a silent protest. Six years later, and after 13 losses, 50 Cent won his first Grammy for “Crack A Bottle” but didn’t attend the event, as he’s been on record about his distaste for what he referred to as the “Beyoncé and Taylor Swift Show.”
#9: Eddie Vedder
By 1996, Pearl Jam had been nominated for five Grammy Awards but lost every time. Apparently, this wasn’t a big deal to them, as lead singer Eddie Vedder was. . . less than enthusiastic when the group won for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards. While his speech is a little rock star 101, it does fall in line with Vedder’s attitude and outlook he’s maintained throughout the years. It would be another 19 years before Pearl Jam won again, after losing in . . . 1999, 2001, 2010 and 2011. Unsurprisingly, Eddie Vedder did not attend for his 2015 win.
#8: Trent Reznor
Throughout his career, this Nine Inch Nails performer has never been afraid to speak his mind. But at the 2014 Grammy Awards, it wasn’t a loss for Best Alternative Music Album that got Trent Reznor fired up, but rather his show-ending performance that was interrupted by on-air advertisements. Reznor had already performed two songs with Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham, and the broadcast was cut short because of the late running time. Within the hour, Reznor used Twitter to blast the Grammys with some heartfelt cussin’
#7: Snoop Dogg
This legendary hip-hop artist is not known for his Grammy success. In fact, Snoop Dogg has never won a single one of these awards, at least as of 2017. But he is known for something else… high on his agenda. In 2016, Snoop used Instagram to weigh his priorities on Grammy night, this coming one year after he refused to attend after years and years of invitations and losses. He also used the same blunt and profane phrasing as Trent Reznor to blast the Grammys and suggested that Macklemore was perhaps not the most logical MC to be chosen to represent hip-hop as a whole.
Since 2010, this musician has been nominated for Grammy Awards on a yearly basis. Still, Drake’s success rate is anything but spectacular. At the 2017 event, though, he earned two Grammys: “Hotline Bling” won both Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Rap Song categories. Drake wasn’t there to accept, however, as he didn’t believe that his iconic song should have been categorized as “rap.” To show his respect for the genre, Drake stated that he didn’t even want the awards, as someone else was certainly more deserving.
Over the years, this rap icon has embraced the Grammys but also boycotted them at opportune times. Back in 1999, Hova won Best Rap Album for “Volume 2… Hard Knock Life,” but he refused to attend, reportedly because DMX wasn’t acknowledged by the Awards for his music. As Jay-Z’s career progressed, his voice became more prominent in pop culture, and he used his influence by publicly boycotting the show again in 2002. Then again, in 2018 Jay-Z will be accepting The Grammy Salute to Icons Award; so he may have 99 problems but the Grammys are sometimes not one.
#4: Kanye West
While some musicians shy away from the spotlight, this musician has famously embraced it in a bear hug. Since 2005, Kanye West has won many, many Grammy awards, but he often criticizes the process. (Now, there’s a shock.) In 2012, he didn’t show up at all, along with Jay-Z (again!), when the pair won for Best Rap Performance. Five years later, he spoke up about boycotting the 2018 Awards in support of Frank Ocean (more on that shortly). Yeezy clearly has a love/hate relationship with the Grammy Awards, but at least he hasn’t rushed the stage like he did at the VMAs.
#3: Public Enemy and Company
In 1989, the Grammy Awards caught up with the times by introducing the Best Rap Performance category. But they weren’t ready to televise the award presentation to DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, which prompted all of the nominees to boycott the event. That alone was a strong statement, made even more powerful with the support of artists like Public Enemy and Slick Rick. Since hip-hop was becoming increasingly prominent within mainstream pop culture, this gesture was a pivotal moment for the genre. Two years later, Public Enemy once again protested when the Grammys failed to televise the award presentation for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
#2: Frank Ocean
In 2017, this boundary-pushing musician, who had a less-than-stellar performance at the 2013 Grammys, declined to submit his acclaimed album “Blonde” for award consideration. He called the show’s producers “old”, and criticized the Grammys for being out of touch with young, diverse demographics. His decision was connected to a larger cultural movement, as Ocean stated that his boycott was his “Colin Kaepernick” moment. Considering the makeup of the 2017 nominees for Album of the Year and Record of the Year later that year, perhaps his message got through somewhat.
#1: Sinéad O'Connor
In 1991, this Irish singer, who had performed live at the 1989 Grammys, was nominated for four Grammy Awards, and won Best Alternative Music Performance for her acclaimed album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.” The album’s title speaks volumes, as O’Connor then became, at that time, the first artist in 33 years to refuse a Grammy Award. She protested what she said were “false materialistic values” that valued industry success rather the music itself. This act of rebellion sparked pop culture discussions about the Grammys, and the music industry in general, that clearly still reverberate today.