2015 Grammy Awards: What Went Right and What Went Wrong
Another Grammy Awards is in the books and for rock and metal fans, it's another year of shaking your head and struggling to find something to identify with during the ceremony. But the Grammy Awards did get some things right while others were awkwardly off base. Let's take a look at what worked and what didn't:
What Went Right: AC/DC opened the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. After last year's debacle with Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails being held to the closing credits of the show and then having their performance overlapped by credits and a commercial spot, the Grammys desperately needed a make good to the rock scene. And snagging iconic rockers AC/DC to open the show went a long way toward smoothing over the past disrespect. Not to mention, they gave AC/DC two songs to play in the performance and one of them was 'Highway to Hell,' a track sure to have put a fright into the bible-thumping blue hairs tuning into CBS right at 8PM to see what this night of music had in store. Plus, given the drama going on with AC/DC's lineup in the past year, there definitely had to be a curiosity factor as well. Way to go Grammys on booking AC/DC, giving them the spotlight and not getting all politically correct on dictating song choice.
What Went Wrong: Aside from AC/DC, where was the rock in the Grammy telecast? It was a particularly somber night of performances at the Grammys, with "mellow" and "ballads" being touchtones for the evening. Hey look, there's Paul McCartney, but he's relegated to playing guitar and seemingly left out of the vocal mix while performing with Rihanna and Kanye West. Meanwhile, Beck gets a spotlight, but this was the year that he released the melodically mellow 'Morning Phase' album rather than some of his usual funkiness, so a pairing with Coldplay's Chris Martin wasn't exactly brimming with hard rock vibrations. Perhaps the second most rocking performance of the night came from country superstar Miranda Lambert on 'Little Red Wagon.' So while the Grammys did "play ball" with AC/DC, it was a swing and a miss on rock for the rest of the night.
What Went Right: Honoring the late metal great Ronnie James Dio. Speaking of making good, can you believe that the late Dio, Black Sabbath and Rainbow vocalist had never earned even a look in the Best Metal Performance category? So when a bunch of artists got together to pay homage to the man who had done so much for the metal genre with the 'Ronnie James Dio - This Is Your Life' tribute album, it was a nice touch to do a solid after years of oversight by giving a nomination in the Best Metal Performance category. But …
What Went Wrong: … Dio should have been recognized long ago, and using two of five available nomination spots on artists covering Dio's music is short-changing the rest of the genre on their merits of the past year. Plus, while Tenacious D's cover of 'The Last in Line' is a solid moment on the disc and worthy of inclusion in the track listing for the album, the fact that the comedy duo not only received a nomination but also won the category was a bit of an insult to real metal bands who truly represent the genre. In a year where Motorhead, Slipknot, Mastodon and Anthrax were also nominated, the Tenacious D victory makes the Grammy voters seem as though they're as out of touch with the genre as ever. If voters wanted to honor Ronnie James Dio, Anthrax's nomination was for their cover of 'Neon Knights' from the same Dio tribute album.
What Went Right: While the Grammys are there to award artists for their musical prowess, there's also a huge emphasis placed on fashion. And Mastodon definitely bucked the red carpet trend as drummer Brann Dailor and guitarist Brent Hinds stole the show. Hinds came decked out in a full Los Angeles Dodgers uniform wearing first baseman Adrian Gonzalez's number, while Dailor had a jacket and pants with a party balloon print, with a green shirt underneath, green shoes and striped socks. Dailor told reporters that it was his "second birthday suit."
What Went Wrong: Yes, we've heard this all before. It's a struggle to get all the deserving folks into the 'In Memoriam' segment during the show, but when the likes of GWAR's Oderus Urungus, Wayne Static and The Stooges' Scott Asheton get left out, while agents, music publishers and behind the scenes folks who never recorded a note get recognition, it's pretty obvious where rock and metal fall in terms of priority for the Grammy producers.
Summary: All told, rock and metal seem to be getting squeezed out of the Grammys more and more each year. Even looking past the questionable Tenacious D win, the winners in the rock categories were Beck, Paramore and Jack White. All talented artists, but definitely leaning more alternative than hard rock. Not to mention, there could stand to be more than one rock performance during the ceremony. That all said, the music world doesn't need the Grammys to tell us that hard rock and metal are alive and well. We see it all year with huge rock and metal festivals selling out, dynamic new bands breaking onto the scene and legendary acts still going as strong as ever.