Billie Eilish's Alt-Rock AMAs Award Further Dents the Reputation of Award Shows


Credit: JC Olivera/Getty Images

Billie Eilish has set the world alight over the last year and deserves many plaudits for it. Her darker lyrics and style have resonated with many people worldwide, and she's a unique artist in the world of pop music. It's an alternative to regular pop, sometimes incoroporating elements of Trap and using vocal effects not heard in the music of Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande, and Eilish's music has been labelled by some as "dark pop". She received the AMA for "New Artist of the Year", which is richly deserved.


But, of course, there are genres of music that her music, objectively, does not fit into. Rock is one of them. As different to most pop as it is, her music, categorically, is not rock music. So why on Earth was she awarded the AMA for Favourite Alternative Rock artist?


Last week, I wrote an article criticising the Grammys for completely ignoring BTS. However, these awards shows also have other blind spots, with rock music (and its subgenres) certainly being one of them.


Why are rock and pop so often glued together? The AMAs have five awards categories dedicated to the "pop/rock" area, but this normally leads to rock music being almost completely ignored. Amongst all five pop/rock categories, only one artist could be argued as a rock artist, Panic! at the Disco. Other nominees in these categories included Drake, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, BTS (at least the AMAs didn't ignore them), Halsey and Jonas Brothers. Not much rock in there. Take out Panic! and there's none at all. Lumping hundreds of rock artists in with the more mainstream pop artists is hugely disrespectful towards a genre that millions upon millions of fans worldwide follow passionately, as it gives them little chance of winning. It's another show of bias towards the pop artists in the awards shows.


And if you're going to lump in an Alternative Rock category as if to try and make up for it, why then give that award to a pop artist anyway? Panic!, The Raconteurs, Foals, Blink-182, Feeder... All of these genuine Alt-Rock artists, and more, released albums this year. You could argue that Foals and Feeder aren't well-known in the US, and that Blink's album wasn't that well-received - but at least they fit the given category.

Green Day's performance at the AMAs doesn't justify the lack of representation for rock artists amongst the awards. Credit: Kevin Winter, Getty Images

It can be argued that Green Day performed at this year's AMAs. Well, sure, but that doesn't change the fact that the awards themselves are not friendly to rock artists. Having Green Day perform a couple of songs merely papers over the cracks. "Hey, we're not awarding any rock artists anything, but here's a rock artist to perform two songs, are you happy?!" No, not really.


Rock artists deserve their own place amongst the awards categories at these shows, and deserve to be given the same amount of respect as the other artists and genres. Rock has always prided itself on not having to be mainstream and on the radio all the time, but a genre that is as popular as rock should not be continuously overlooked by the awards ceremonies. They can achieve huge success without the benefit of radio airplay, and that is surely something worth rewarding.


Stop making rock bands the losers of the awards ceremonies and give them some proper recognition for the music they work hard on. They have done more than enough to earn some respect, and right now, that is more than can be said for these awards.