Miley Cyrus’s Grammy wins were a sign voters are taking the Disney Channel generation more seriously

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On February 4 singer Miley Cyrus made headlines by winning two Grammys, her first wins ever, for her smash hit “Flowers”: Best Pop Solo Performance and the highly coveted Record of the Year. The latter is one of the most prestigious categories at the Grammys, having gone to some absolute classics of the past and present, from Henry Mancini‘s “Moon River” to Adele‘s “Rolling in the Deep.” That was no easy feat, and for Cyrus to do so in particular feels like a milestone in itself.

SEEHow Taylor Swift cruised to an easy 4th Album of the Year Grammy victory

Cyrus’s career started on the Disney Channel, opposite her dad Billy Ray Cyrus on the hit TV show “Hannah Montana.” Since the show was about a pop star, Cyrus’s acting career and music career were immediately intertwined, although lately she has prioritized the latter over the former. Growing up in the spotlight as a child star often meant that her music wasn’t taken as seriously, despite posting big numbers for a star her age. She was passed over for the Grammy for Best New Artist. This despite the fact that she actually appeared at the Grammys multiple times during her Disney years, whether she was presenting or performing with other artists. The Grammy snubs became all the more baffling when the Recording Academy decided to nominate her contemporaries the Jonas Brothers for Best New Artist, even though they were making music as teen-oriented as Cyrus.

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What Jonas Brothers had that many teen stars like Cyrus lacked was perceived musicianship. To the Recording Academy members, stars who don’t play instruments, write their songs, or contribute to the behind-the-scenes production might be seen as undeserving of recognition. This is probably why teen Justin Bieber, who was first discovered for his online videos drumming and playing guitar, probably had an easier path to Grammy noms than counterparts like Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and, of course, Cyrus herself.

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This new win for Cyrus, though, indicates a change in the academy. It is possible that part of Cyrus’s success this year, unlike previous years, can be attributed to the number of new voters who are part of the organization now. As the years progress and the Recording Academy continues to expand and diversify its ranks, the more voting members there will be who grew up with these former teen stars, are able to sympathize with them, and appreciate their talent and evolution throughout the years.

But the win also speaks well of older voters. In the end, no matter how many new young voters there are in the academy, you can’t just rely on them for victory. It is likely that many young voters were also persuaded by choices like SZA’s “Kill Bill” or Olivia Rodrigo’s “Vampire,” so “Flowers” probably also needed older academy members on its side. What “Flowers” suggests then is that, with time, even the older establishment is more willing to give these former teen acts their flowers (no pun intended). We might’ve gotten a glimpse of this with Harry Styles‘s surprise Album of the Year win last year, but a victory for a once-quite-controversial star like Cyrus further demonstrates that if you put in the work and make music that shows artistic growth, even the old guard will be fine with acknowledging it now.

This year it was “Flowers,” but the future batch of Record or Song of the Year winners might feature more names that have grown up with us. Don’t be surprised if it’s something from Ariana Grande, Bieber, Gomez, or even the JoBros sometime soon.

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