It’s the Monday after the Grammy awards, so it’s time for every armchair quarterback to sit back and analyze what’s known as Music’s Biggest Night. It’s like we have a sort of Stockholm Syndrome – we keep wanting the awards ceremony to do better, and of course it doesn’t. Of course, hard rock and metal fans know better than to expect anything from the Grammys going back to 1989, the first year there was an award presented for the genre and Jethro Tull won it. but with another year in the books, we might as well have our own bitch session anyway.
Bram: Here’s the thing: I don’t think that fundamentally, the Grammys did a bad job this year in terms of rock and metal. Or at least my expectations were tempered from so many disappointing years. Mastodon absolutely deserved the Grammy they won. They’ve been nominated and lost before, they’re a current band that’s worked hard, and they made a great album this year. The thing is, all of the nominees were pretty deserving, with the possible exception of August Burns Red. I don’t even have anything against them, just that they ‘re not a super well-known or critically-acclaimed band with any anthems that every metalhead knows.
Onto rock. There are some that will probably argue that Metallica deserved to win the Grammys they were nominated for. Meh. They put out a really good album, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if they won both awards. However, I’m kinda fine with them getting shut out. First of all, the album came out in 2016. Secondly, they’ve had plenty of success since pretty much the year after they lost to Jethro Tull. It would be just like the Grammys to award a band in their 35th year of making music another few awards and I’m glad they didn’t. I pretty much figured it’d be between them and the Foo Fighters for Best Rock Song, and the Foos won. No surprise there. And I’m not really a War on Drugs fan (they’re essentially Dire Straits for people that listen to NPR), but it’s a breath of fresh air for a critically acclaimed band to grab the award.
Where the Grammys fell short aside from rock and metal, well, that’s a whole other story (Kendrick was robbed for album of the year!), but as far as rock in general, it seems like they read that R&B and hip hop are streaming more and acted accordingly. The only “rock” performers on the ceremony consisted of Sting and U2. Yawn. It’s encouraging that a rock band, Portugal. The Man, won “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” for “Feel it Still” over the Chainsmokers and “Despacito,” but even that wasn’t televised. And the fact that Leonard Cohen, Mastodon, Nothing More and Kaleo (who?) were in the same overall umbrella was a little confusing. As far as the “in memoriam” segment, they did pretty well, with Motorhead’s Fast” Eddie Clarke, and Malcolm Young getting shout-outs in addition to Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. They could’ve done worse overall is what I’m saying.
Zenae: During last year’s Grammys, I was very hesitant to see Metallica collaborating with Lady Gaga. However, aside from the mic incident, I have to say that I wish a performance collaboration similar to this would have taken place during this year’s ceremony. Let’s face it, aside from U2 and Sting, it was as though rock/metal didn’t exist. Each year, these genres continue to get insulted and well, these categories aren’t even included with the live telecast. It seems as though they are phasing out these genres to the mainstream and each year will feel like a lose-lose situation. However, this year’s nominees and winners were more on point than previous years. We were lucky that we didn’t see a live album with songs that were 40 years old take home a winning Grammy, nor seeing a parody metal act winning for a cover song. Therefore, there are improvements but, they still have a long way to go. Yes, it was disappointing to see Metallica lose to War on Drugs for ‘Best Rock Album.’ However, Metallica’s Hardwired…To Self-Destruct was released in 2016, and that alone should say something.
Also, on the “In Memoriam” segment, admittedly, it was a surprise to see Motorhead’s “Fast” Eddie Clarke, appear. However, I knew Malcolm Young would be included, as well as Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. There was a moment when I thought Dolores O’Riordan would be neglected since her passing was recent, yet there was a moment of relief when I saw her name. As far as the real snubs are concerned, Paul O’Neil, Warrel Dane, Sib Hashian, David Zablidowsky, and Bill Tolley, to name a few but most of them appear on this list.
When all is said and done, the truth is that as much as we say, “I’m boycotting the Grammys for life,” there’s always something that makes us want to keep watching.
Zach S: Honestly, only two things really surprised me about last night’s Grammys: 1) Bruno Mars somehow winning every award against albums/songs that really should have won, and 2) that the Grammys didn’t do a larger/more extravagant tribute to Tom Petty. However, neither surprise actually bothered me (the Tom Petty tribute was short but well done, and as much as I dislike the 24K album, I’ll always love “Locked Out of Heaven” so I can never stay mad at Bruno).
Now I know what you’re thinking: those don’t even have anything to directly do to metal. And tying into Bram and Zenae’s comments, that’s the point: all in all, the Grammys’ did fine by rock and metal. Granted, it helps that I’ve essentially lowered my expectations considerably over time, but that makes seeing Motorhead’s “Fast” Eddie Clarke acknowledged in the “In Memoriam” segment a great surprise (because let’s be honest, you know the Grammys could have easily forgotten to include Eddie Clarke … they did that with Jeff Hanneman, who actually won a Grammy!).
And sure, it might have been nice to see a metal or hard rock band during the televised show. But as a consolation, we did get to see Body Count play the pre-telecast ceremony via online stream, and don’t act like THAT isn’t awesome in and of itself. And frankly, harping on and on about an award show not televising a rock performance is as pointless as Avenged Sevenfold making a point to say aloud they aren’t going to said award show because the award they’re nominated for isn’t being televised (“Oh no, Avenged Sevenfold isn’t attending the Grammys?!,” said no one). At this point, why do we keep stressing ourselves over it? Let’s just be happy when a metal band does get on TV (or in last year’s case, when a metal band gets to perform on TV with a major pop star) instead of whine about the times metal doesn’t get invited to the big party (which fans will call them sell outs for attending anyways).
Jeff: Dire Straits for people who listen to NPR” – haha, you’re killing me, Bram! But yeah, the Grammy’s – they just don’t get it and they never will. The Jethro Tull incident is classic aversion to all things somewhat heavy but it’s so incredibly endemic of all these awards going back to when Gandhi beat E.T. for best picture at the Academy Awards years back. It’s merely all an A-list event for the A-listers and a night of ridiculous expense accounts topped off by incessant virtue signaling. I didn’t bother watching the Grammy’s for one second while it was on live and instead opted for reruns of Brickleberry on Netflix. Sadly there was more depth on that failure of a late night cartoon than any bit on the Grammy telecast. And whoever thought it would be a great idea to have Hillary Rodham Clinton on that Trump-bashing book sketch should be sent to Arkansas’ public school system under her husband’s gubernatorial oversight.