Pop music snubs other genres of recognition at award shows

February 6, 2015 — by Gwynevere Hunger

Nowadays, pop has seemingly taken over the entire music industry, causing genres, such as rock, classical and jazz, to receive less recognition at music award shows.


Good Lorde, get ready for pop.

As Lorde awkwardly got up on stage to receive the award for Best Rock Video MTV VMA awards, audience members noticed the confused look on her face as she tried to find the right camera to smile into. Meanwhile, true rock artists like The Arctic Monkeys must have sat at home, watching the ceremony on TV in frustration.

Nowadays, pop has seemingly taken over the entire music industry, causing genres, such as rock, classical and jazz, to receive less recognition at music award shows.

At the MTV VMA Awards in August, Lorde caused a huge controversy among rock fans when she took home the award for Best Rock Video for her song “Royals.” While “Royals” may be a top Billboard hit song from the past year, the pop singer beat out actual rock bands such as Arctic Monkeys, Linkin Park and Imagine Dragons.

Many dedicated rock fans were outraged that this teen pop sensation won an award that could have been given to an actual rock artist, a musician who uses traditional rock instruments, such as guitar, bass and drums, and produces music without electronic instruments.

Many critics expressed confusion as to why Lorde was even nominated in the rock category.

Matthew Coyte, editor-in-chief of the Australian version Rolling Stone, said that the song “Royals” is, by definition, not a rock song since it uses electronics. Coyte also suggested that the misplacement of this award seemed to put teen artists Lorde and Ariana Grande, who won Best Pop Video, in different categories just so that both could win an award.

Although pop music is meant to appeal to all people (after all, it is called popular music), it should not be representative of music as a whole and be applied to awards of all genres.

Mainstream award shows such as the MTV music awards, Billboard music awards and Grammys do not even have a category for classical, jazz, soul or blues music. By neglecting these award categories at shows, award shows discourage artists from producing new music that does not fit the pop music genre.

Many listeners also prefer rock or jazz music to pop music, making it unfair to such fans that their music isn’t being recognized. In fact, it could be argued that other genres deserve even more credit than pop because they involve the use of real instruments and lyrics with complex melodies, requiring stronger vocal talents.

Many non-pop artists have already adopted a pop sound in the hope of breaking into the top 40, such as Taylor Swift's change from country to pop. If they are not publicly recognized for their hard work even at award shows, they will become even less motivated to stay true to their original sound. Although receiving awards may not be their main form of motivation, artists still deserve the recognition and publicity that award shows can offer In order to help non-pop artists pursue their passion and to keep a variety of music genres easily available for everyone, artists should be properly placed in the appropriate genres at award shows. Music categories should also be more diversified in order to provide new opportunities that upcoming artists can aspire to.

Perhaps one day, pop music won’t be the only genre of music filling up all awards and soundtracks.  Maybe then, the Arctic Monkeys can finally walk up to that award stage and accept their rightfully deserved award. 

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