Trends in music come and go, but the crown jewel of musical accomplishment has been a mainstay since its creation. The Grammy Awards are the music industry's biggest night. Winning a grammy carries the same weight for musicians as the Oscars do for actors - there is no greater achievement.
Over the past decade, the Grammy's have become a greater reflection of music that is not only critically acclaimed, but popular as well. According to AllMusic.com, seven of the previous 10 winners of the grammy for Album of the Year have reached number one on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. 2003's Album of the Year winner, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast, has sold over 10 million copies since its release in September of that year. Norah Jones' 2002 Grammy winner, Come Away with Me, has sold over 18 million copies worldwide, also according to AllMusic.com.
One of the best ways to gauge what music is popular today is what music listeners are downloading. The internet has become a virtual candy land for music lovers, and the acronym "MP3" can be heard as often in conversations about music as "CD."
MP3's themselves have become more mobile as technology advances, and are now making their way from the desktop to the cell phone. MP3 ringtones are the latest advancement in the ringtone industry. One of the fastest growing industries worldwide, ringtones are worth about $3.5 billion dollars, according to Deloitte Accountancy.
"Record labels and artists really rely on the revenue ringtones can generate," said Bob Bentz, Sales and Marketing Director for MonsterTones (http://www.monstertones.com). "It's a new found source of income for them in an era of overall declines."
Ringtones have become such a strong gauge of song popularity that Billboard gave its first Ringtone of the Year Award in 2003. The inaugural winner of the award was 50 Cent for his single, "In Da Club." 50 received five grammy nominations in 2003. Although he didn't win any, three of those were for "In Da Club."
Can ringtone popularity predict Grammy victory? Or is the crossover popularity that a hit ringtone signifies a death wish on Grammy night?
Kanye West has been described over the past year as "cocky." He believes he is the best. His Grammy nominations prove him right. West leads the field with ten noms for songs from his debut album, The College Dropout, and his work as a producer for artists like Alicia Keys. Kanye is nominated for Song of the Year and Best New Artist, and The College Dropout is nominated for Album of the Year thanks to hit singles and ringtones like "All Falls Down."
Usher earned eight nominations, and will look to continue his award season success in some of the biggest categories on Grammy night. He is nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, and his seven times platinum album, Confessions, is nominated for Album of the Year. According to a source to the Times UK, Usher's single "Burn" (nominated for Best Male R&B Performance) was one of the top ten ringtones of 2004.
Alicia Keys avoided the sophomore slump with The Diary of Alicia Keys, and also garnered eight grammy nominations. In 2002, Keys won five grammys for her debut album, Songs In A Minor, and should have mantle space cleared for more grammophones this year. She is nominated for Album of the Year, and Song of the Year for her single "If I Ain't Got You."
Green Day re-introduced themselves to fans in 2004 with the release of their seventh album, American Idiot. They will try to win their first grammy since 1994 with six nominations, including Record of the Year for their politically-themed single "American Idiot." American Idiot is also nominated for Album of the Year and features the hit single "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," which is currently the seventh top selling ringtone on MonsterTones.
The Grammy Awards are becoming a more accurate reflection of music that is both popular and creative each year. As the awards show makes that shift, the popularity of ringtones could begin to play a role in which artists and songs receive nominations. There could even be a possible grammy created for Ringtone of the Year.
"Rap music is the best music since the '60s, and the Grammy's took a few years to recognize it as a musical category," said Bentz. "If ringtones continue to help shape what music becomes popular, who knows what could happen?"
The 47th Annual Grammy Awards are on Sunday, February 13. All the songs mentioned above, plus ringtones from other nominated artists like Hoobastank, NERD, and the Killers are currently available at MonsterTones for 47% off. For more information on MP3 and cell phone ringtones, please go to http://www.MonsterTones.com.
Jonathan is a starving, struggling writer who aspires to work in public relations when he graduates from West Virginia University. He is a marketing intern with Advanced Internet and a stringer for the Associated Press.