Viral TikTok song nominated in the annual Grammy Awards

Marit Erickson, Variety Editor

On Nov 15 the 2023 Grammy Award nominations were released. Names like Lizzo, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, and Adele were featured in the impressive list of musicians. 

By far the most controversial choice this year was Gayle’s song “abcdefu” being nominated for the Song Of The Year category. 

The track first gained attention through TikTok, and was officially released Aug 13, 2021. 

Personally, I think this is one of the worst songs ever written. 

Gayle, or Taylor Rutherford, is an 18-year-old “indie” artist with a pop-punk influence. She is often clad in black, with heavy eyeliner and hair dye, helping bring together the “I’m edgy” look. 

Many have speculated whether or not the singer-songwriter is an industry plant due to her rapid overnight success. Her songs largely consist of replacing one word within a nursery rhyme, subsequently making the song about a boy / breakup. 

Seeing an artist who hasn’t even released a full LP nominated amongst some of the most iconic artists of this generation is shocking, especially considering the visceral reaction many had against Gayle’s single. 

“abcdefu” has a 1/5 star review on Musicboard and a 1.19/5 on Rate Your Music, both popular music review sites. The latter rating came from a whopping 931 total reviews.

The gist is “abcdefu” is not a popular song, nor is it a technically impressive song. The lyrics lack creativity, and the melody is repetitive. 

This is a clear example of an artist who received way too much corporate support despite an utter lack of talent. 

The song received extensive marketing through TikTok, an app where even the worst music can gain popularity out of its sheer existence. 

One can’t help but speculate that some form of bribery took place in order to clinch this nomination. Perhaps the Grammys aim to appeal to a more adolescent online audience. Still, the credibility of the awards, though long debated, seems to have officially died. 

In 2019, former chief executive of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan, filed a legal complaint about the nomination process, claiming the Academy nominated artists they had strong connections with. 

Last year, in accordance with many accusations of immoral committees, the Recording Academy shifted their nomination decisions towards a group of 11,000 voters rather than small groups of industry experts. 

Gayle’s presence in the nominee list counters the assertion that the Academy lacks corruption based on pure statistics– nobody liked that song.