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Does Paul McCartney Require The Grammys?

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney’s first Grammy-qualifying recording was released in October 1961. It was ‘My Bonnie,’ a single by English singer Tony Sheridan that was initially only available in Germany. The Beatles were his backing band, but they were credited on the single as ‘The Beat Brothers.’ In the 60 years since that single’s initial release, no artist has had a greater influence on the shifting tides of popular music than McCartney.

The Grammy Awards are ostensibly intended to recognise the best music of any given year. Paul McCartney has nine Grammys with The Beatles, six solo, two with Wings, and one as part of the Nirvana reunion single ‘Cut Me Some Slack.’

Despite being quite a feat, it pales in comparison to the number of Grammys held by Bruce Springsteen (20), Kanye West (22), Jay-Z (23), or Beyonce (28) (composer Georg Solti is the most decorated Grammy winner with 31).

The Beatles were actually fairly well represented at the Grammys during their modern heyday. Confounding the alleged curse associated with the title, the band won Best New Artist and Best Performance by a Vocal Group at the 1965 Grammys for ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’ In 1968, the band won the coveted Album of the Year award for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, their final Grammy as an active unit.

Despite their total of nine awards, The Beatles only won five as an active group. For comparison, Billie Eilish won that many awards in 2020 alone.

Despite remaining one of the world’s most popular artists, most of McCartney’s most celebrated works as a solo artist did not receive Grammy nominations. In 1972, ‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey’ won Best Arrangement, an award now held by Jacob Collier, and in 1975, ‘Band on the Run’ won Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus.

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From there, Back to the Egg’s ‘Rockestra Theme’ won Best Rock Instrumental Performance before McCartney coasted into elder statesman wins.

That’s not to say that some of those late-period awards aren’t well-deserved, such as ‘Cut Me Some Slack’ winning Best Rock Song or Kisses on the Bottom winning Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, but they’re also clear cop-outs at times.

McCartney winning Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for a live version of ‘Helter Skelter’ in 2011 is a clear indication that they should have just given the original an award (that award wasn’t established until 1988, in case you’re wondering how far behind the times The Grammys have historically been).This year, McCartney III has received two nominations: Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song for the first single, ‘Find My Way.’

Neither is a major comeback for McCartney, and neither ranks near the top of McCartney’s insanely impressive list of Best Albums or Best Songs. Perhaps voters will be amused by McCartney’s “I’m literally the only person on this album” gimmick and award the album accordingly. ‘Find My Way’ will have to beat out Grammy favorites Foo Fighters and their mediocre single ‘Waiting on a War,’ so I’ll give it a 50-50 shot.

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The point is that Paul McCartney does not require the Grammys. He had no need for them in the first place. He’s just finished his third album, and he didn’t use a single another musician. There is no artist more acclaimed, successful, or notable than Sir Paul, and a few Grammys won’t change that at this point in his career. Is he deserving of a few more Grammys? Sure, but it will only serve to reinforce the notion that the majority of awards are Lifetime Achievement awards.

It’s wonderful that they’re willing to acknowledge McCartney, as it would be somewhat insulting if they didn’t, but no one should be surprised if the institution instead gives the awards to the Foo Fighters.

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