“The Grammys is the one award that doesn’t matter to anyone until they win one.”
For 15-20 years, I dismissed the Grammys as utter crap. It all started back in 1989, when they decided to branch out and recognize heavy metal and hard rock with its own category/award. And in a year when Metallica’s …And Justice For All ruled the rock/metal world (and, in my opinion, were still good and relevant), who was awarded the Grammy? Jethro Tull.
I repeat: Jethro Freaking Tull. A band with a flautist. How metal.
It was an insult, a joke, and the moment I quit caring about the Grammys. And why should I? The music that mattered to me wasn’t even getting radio airplay most of the time, let alone being recognized by the industry. If a band I liked would’ve won a Grammy back then, I would’ve expected them to either not show up to receive it or give a vulgar and disparaging acceptance speech, detailing the ways the award was a joke and meant nothing to them. Breaking it on the stage would have been a plus.
In the early 2000’s I started watching the Grammys again, mostly out of morbid curiosity. There were some interesting wins here and there, some I agreed with and a lot I didn’t. There were interesting performances, some memorable and some miserable. But what became more and more clear is that for every tragic misfire there would usually also be a step in the right direction.
A prime example: in 2007 and 2008, Slayer won back-to-back Grammys. Slayer, one of the least commercial bands in the history of rock music, and one of my favorite bands. And all I could think to myself was, “It’s about damn time.” Suddenly the Grammys mattered, because a band I liked won one. And they humbly and graciously accepted the award, despite my wishes a decade earlier that any band I liked that won demolish the award immediately.
Now, I don’t always agree so wholeheartedly with who wins the Grammys (although I really don’t lose any sleep over any of it), but over the last few years I’ve come to view the Grammys as an uncool uncle you only see once a year—he isn’t as cool as he tries to be; he can sometimes be downright embarrassing; but, above all else he’s trying, and that counts for something.
Looking at this year’s rock nominees is a pretty good example: a handful of newer, and in my opinion more relevant artists mixed in with the likes of Black Sabbath, Neil Young, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin, for God’s sake. It seems to me more young acts should be nominated to keep interest in the awards, or else each new generation is going to write the Grammys off as a bunch of geezers giving each other awards—although hopefully we never see another Jethro Tull-style goof up.
I had thought about doing a write up of the Grammys fully expecting it to be a snarky, sarcastic, excessively negative piece about the worthlessness of the awards. And while I still don’t think any band should care that much about winning one, it would be naive to say they don’t matter at all. The truth is, the Grammy is the biggest music award on the planet, and who wouldn’t like to be told their work is good enough to get one? The fact that they also give them to some of the worst songs/performers every year in the pop categories is another matter, and I’ll leave that issue to someone else.
I also have to admit that I’ve quite enjoyed the actual Grammy telecast the last few years; they really appear to be pulling out all the stops to make the show itself memorable, even if you don’t care about the actual awards. And with that, I’ll be the first to admit I’ll be watching Sunday night anxious to see who/what people are going to be talking about on Monday. Will you be watching?
11 thoughts on “The Grammy Awards: Your Uncool Uncle”
I won’t be watching (I don’t have the patience for awards shows), but this was an interesting post!
I wonder if rather than sitting through the entire show it might be smarter to go on Youtube the next morning and just watch the performances. Hmm…
That’s what I would do. Hey, I wonder if there are videos of just the Tina Fey parts of whatever it was she just hosted. I really don’t care about the awards…
I bet there are, and the first ten or fifteen minutes of the Golden Globes was definitely the highlight of the show.
I’m actually not sure I have ever watched the Grammys. Maybe as a kid, but I don’t remember. I just know that the last ten years or so I have pretty much avoided watching music related award shows because the music I’m into is usually not going to be included anyway. I have become more open minded towards pop music over the last 5 years or so as there’s definitely some stuff I like out there, but the biggest load is usually just not my thing. It might be interesting to have a look though, just because I don’t think I ever have before. You never know I may be surprised! So if I have time on my hands on Sunday I might consider giving it a go, even if it’s just on in the background or something 🙂 Depending on what time the award show is and everything of course.
I totally understand about your music not being included, that’s why I avoided them for so long. The last few years it seems like someone over there in Grammyland finally realized some of the potential collaborations and hookups that were possible and really started making interesting choices. Even though I haven’t liked Metallica for about 20 years now, I’m still curious to see what they have planned when they perform with this concert pianist.
I’m not into Metallica, but they are actually quite fantastic live and with a concert pianist, that sound very interesting. You’ve quite enticed me now!
Jethro Tull is great, but they are not metal by any stretch of the imagination. I’d categorize them as prog rock.
I’ve honestly never cared much about awards shows. Also, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is pretty well a joke, in my opinion.
I had to really work to keep this post short, because if I’d branched off into the American Music Awards and/or the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame I think I’d still be writing. They make me sick, although I do have to admit that when I found myself in Cleveland, OH I did visit the museum, and it was really impressive. But the actual hall of fame thing is a joke.
Please get started on your post about the Rock & Roll HOF; I went right after it opened and have definite opinions, but you always express yours so well! (It’s so easy to get lost in Cleveland, too.)
Well, the actual inductions are one thing, but the actual museum was another. Looking at Britney Spears hot pants was a big eye roll, but seeing Jimi Hendrix memorabilia made up for it. We spent several hours there and I felt we needed a whole extra day to be able to see everything and take it all in without being totally beat. Now I’m trying to think if the pictures we took were “old fashioned” or digital…might have to do some digging.