Following The Grammy Controversies, Ellie Goulding Writes A Critical Essay About Music Awards

There’s always some backlash when the Grammy Award nominations are announced, but it was particularly harsh this year. The biggest headline to emerge from the Recording Academy’s 2021 list was the total snubbing of The Weeknd, who earned no nominations despite undoubtedly having some of the most successful and beloved music of the year. Artists have spoken out about the issues surrounding the Grammys, and it looks like Ellie Goulding has as well.

Goulding self-published an essay titled “The start of a conversation…” on Medium yesterday, and while she doesn’t explicitly address the Grammys or the Recording Academy, the timing and subject of the piece certainly seem to suggest that those entities are, at the very least, what prompted her to write.

She starts with a reflection on her experience in the music industry and declares that “‘the industry,’ and its current state, saddens me.” Goulding goes on to question the criteria for award nominations, writing:

“In most artistic fields, awards seem to come off the back of great critical acclaim, but in today’s music industry such ‘acclaim’ can have varied sources. People are being awarded — in the form of both nominations and category wins — for reasons that are hard to decipher. If both the most globally popular artists and most critically revered artists are not being recognised, how do we, as artists, go on? Would a runner start a race if they knew crossing the finish line first wouldn’t necessarily win them a gold medal?

When peers and friends get nominated for a major award, I am so, so happy to see them rewarded for their hard work and especially for their brilliant writing. From my perspective, there is nothing greater than listening to a song or an album that has saved you, inspired you, evoked deep emotion in some new sort of way… and then see it get the attention and award it deserves. At the same time, there is always a crushing, horrible feeling for my peers and friends who don’t get acknowledged, by the very same system, for their work year-after-year despite making music I and many others believe is ground-breaking.”

She later concludes the piece:

“To all those artists and creatives, who push on without a nod, wink or pat on the back, I respect you. And in this time — stage designs still being drawn up, lighting still being experimented with, instruments still being played, and beautiful, moving, powerful lyrics and melodies still being written every day — I say this to you, and to myself: keep going, keep doing what you love, keep the faith, keep knowing what you do is more important than you will ever know.

And at the same time, music industry, I say to you: it is time to have a bigger discussion about where we are going and how we acknowledge and reward those who are, frankly, the reason this industry exists in the first place.”

Read the full essay here.