One thing guaranteed to get people’s attention around awards shows is when a film, song, or artist is nominated in an unexpected category. Get Out, Jordan Peele’s surrealist horror thriller, was nominated for the 2018 Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy (despite the director’s wry suggestion that it was, in fact, a “documentary” on systemic racism), which infuriated many. Beyoncé’s submission of Lemonade’s “Daddy Lessons” for consideration for Best Country Song at the 2017 Grammys incited spirited debate and was ultimately rejected, despite support from many in the country-music community. And after the British folk/prog-rock group Jethro Tull won the 1989 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal, beating out Metallica, which seemed destined to receive the award, the announcement was booed loudly by the Shrine Auditorium audience (including artists themselves). The upset spawned major criticism and the development of special screening committees to ensure songs stayed in their proverbial lane for years to come.
So when Migos, the Atlanta-based rap trio whose influence on the culture has ranged from helping to popularize the dab to introducing the triplet flow to mainstream audiences, won its first American Music Award on Tuesday in the category of Favorite Pop/Rock Duo or Group, one could have expected cries of “foul” from the corners of the internet and from the commentariat where these things tend to originate. There were a few tweets criticizing the decision, but generally the announcement was met with bemusement akin to Lil Uzi Vert’s shoulder shrug in his guest appearance in the video for “Bad and Boujee,” the group’s breakthrough single. “We did not know we was winning this at all,” admitted the Migos lead, Quavo, who accepted the award with his groupmate Offset. No one else did either, but the award certainly didn’t generate the usual amount of outrage in the wee hours of the evening.