Cambridge students were strongly divided about 2023’s best albumDAVID JONES / FLICKR /

Hosted annually since 1959, the Grammy Awards is arguably the most prestigious celebration of music, yet rising criticism suggests the ceremony doesn’t truly reflect public opinion. To test this, we asked Cambridge students how they felt about this year’s major categories. Ever an opinionated bunch, our student population didn’t quite agree with the outcomes from February 5th: this is what they had to say.

Best New Artist

A once-in-a-lifetime award, ‘Best New Artist’ recognises a musician whose breakthrough work “notably impacted the musical landscape.” Deciding what that looks like falls to the Recording Academy, an elite group of music industry professionals selected by a panel of current members. To get in, you must demonstrate a long and fruitful music career and provide references from respected industry names. Unsurprisingly, this elitist process has rendered the recording academy very old and very white; the kind of crowd who don’t appreciate Ice Spice’s genius in writing “you think you’re the sh*t… you’re not even the fart.” Nonetheless, Ice Spice was nominated alongside Fred again…, Gracie Abrams, and Jelly Roll. But it was Victoria Monét who took home the glistening gramophone, despite only receiving 10.3% of Cambridge’s vote. Instead, 41% of our student voters chose Noah Kahan’s plucky banjo and folk twang.

Best Pop Dance Recording

Despite their demographic flaws, the Grammys have attempted to move with the times, introducing Best Pop Dance Recording as a brand-new category to celebrate upbeat pop music with an electronic focus. Nominees included two David Guetta songs (‘One In A Million’ and ‘Baby Don’t Hurt Me’), though these received a disappointing 1 and 3 votes, respectively. Instead, the university’s far higher than average queer population came full force, offering Troye Sivan’s ode to gay clubs and party drugs, ‘Rush’, a staggering 62.2% of the vote. The Recording Academy did not agree, instead opting for Kylie Minogue’s ‘Padam Padam.’ But given Kylie’s fanbase, this one is still a win for the gays.

Song of the Year

The Grammys boasts two cross-genre awards for a single track, with Song of the Year celebrating masterful songwriting, both in lyrics and melody. Nominees included ‘Dance The Night’ by Dua Lipa, ‘Vampire’ by Olivia Rodrigo, and ‘Kill Bill’ by SZA. Yet it was Billie Eilish’s ‘What Was I Made For’ that took the cake, and Cambridge broadly agreed, offering it 24.4% of the votes. Yet just above reigned ‘A&W’ by Lana Del Rey, carrying 34.1% and several violently supportive comments from Lana fans. Speaking of aggressive fans, Taylor Swift’s ‘Anti-Hero’ also received 3 votes. While this is not a high number, I consider it far too large a crowd celebrating the songwriting of “everybody is a sexy baby / And I’m a monster on the hill.”

Record of the Year

Nevertheless, it was a big night for that monster on the hill, with ‘Anti-Hero’ also nominated for Record of the Year, awarded to the producers, engineers, and mixers for the production value of a single track. This one received very mixed responses from students, split across ‘Not Strong Enough’ (boygenius), ‘Vampire’ (Olivia Rodrigo), and ‘Kill Bill’ (SZA). Miley Cyrus’s ‘Flowers’ ranked second to last in our survey, but Miley took home the award at this year’s ceremony.

Album of the Year

In a similar fashion, Cambridge students were strongly divided about 2023’s best album. Votes were thinly spread across boygenius’ the record, SZA’s SOS and Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS, with a healthy dose voting for ‘none of the above.’ Nevertheless, a majority prevailed in favour of Lana Del Rey’s Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. While the name pains me considering my word limit, one passionate voter reminded me, in all caps, “SO MUCH ENERGY AND EMOTION WAS PUT INTO THIS ALBUM.” Unfortunately for them, it was Taylor Swift’s Midnights that received the Grammy, making her the first artist to win the award four times.

Best Pop Vocal Album

If Album of the Year wasn’t enough, Taylor also took home this award, which is hard to keep under wraps, considering she announced her next album in her acceptance speech. The friendly faces of the Cambridge University Taylor Swift Appreciation Society clearly did not fill out this survey though, as Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS received the most votes, beating Miley Cyrus’ Endless Summer Vacation and Ed Sheeran’s – (subtract).


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Despite my dismay that Rodrigo was robbed, one voter reminded me how good it was to see that “they are highlighting women.” This is certainly true, with every televised award going to a woman – a fact the Grammys panel are eager to showcase after former president, Neil Portnow, claimed that if women wanted to win, they should “step up.” While the winners may have not been the women Cambridge students wanted to win, it is certainly nice to see a bigot proven wrong.