Grammys not showing their "metal"

Awards show gets it wrong ... again
By Peter Lindblad

AC/DC gave a commanding
performance at this year's Grammys
For just a second, let's forget about Kanye West and his weird obsession with getting Beyonce a Grammy. Can we talk about the Grammys and their "heavy metal problem?"

Why can't they ever seem to get metal right? Smartly, the Grammys kicked off their soul-sucking awards show with AC/DC doing "Rock Or Bust" and then following it up with a galvanizing performance of "Highway to Hell."

Katy Perry – yes, that Katy Perry – had plastic devil horns on her pretty little head and was flashing signs. Lady Gaga was losing her mind over it. Everybody was on their feet, from clueless industry executives to Dave Grohl, celebrating the survival of battle-scarred veterans rocked by a founding member's debilitating health problems and another's bizarre legal battles.

Oh, Grammys ... we knew you cared. This was a magnanimous gesture, one that would surely lead to peace between an institution that either had no clue about metal or was intentionally dismissive.

Metallica's ... And Justice for All
lost the Grammy to Jethro Tull
And then came the award for Best Metal Performance. The National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences first recognized metal in 1989 with a category known as Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental. A lot of people forget that "Best Hard Rock" part, because that year, the Grammy inexplicably went to Jethro Tull's Crest of a Knave. over Metallica's ... And Justice For All.

The metal community has never forgiven the Grammys for that disaster. Still, there is that nagging feeling that at least they were taking into consideration the "Best Hard Rock" part of the equation in making the decision. Still, hardly anybody mentions Crest of a Knave anymore, except when people want to talk about how out to lunch the Grammys are when it comes to heavy metal.

Over the years, the title of the category has changed, and Metallica has ended up with their fair share of Grammys. Controversy has dogged this area, with Soundgarden's Chris Cornell wondering why Dokken was nominated in the heavy metal category a year later. Many, including yours truly, had a beef with Soundgarden winning a Grammy for "Spoonman" in 1995.

Here's the rest of the entrants that year: Rollins Band's "Liar"; Pantera's "I'm Broken"; Megadeth's "99 Ways to Die"; and Anthrax's groundbreaking collaboration with Public Enemy on "Bring the Noise." Little did Cornell know that he'd be living in a newly furnished glass house five years later when he made his remarks about Dokken.

Anyway, the point is, there have been good choices and not-so-good picks in the past 15 years, but surprisingly, the Grammys had generally avoided making complete fools of themselves in that time. That is until last year, when the show cut off a performance from Queens of the Stone Age, Trent Reznor, Dave Grohl and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham before it was finished – a sort of musical coitus interruptus, if you will.

Reznor declared a self-imposed exile from the event forever. They were insulted, and it stands to reason that aside from Grohl, who always seems to want to play peacemaker, none of them will ever do the Grammys again. Black Sabbath's win aside, this was not a good moment for the Grammys and metal. This was Vladimir Putin defecating in Obama's corn flakes. And that doesn't even take into the Grammys' In Memoriam snub to Slayer's Jeff Hanneman, repeated again this year with its overlooking Gwar's Dave Brockie.

So, we come to this Sunday's event, filled with the usual ridiculous drama and lame thrown-together collaborations it's always had and awards handed out to the undeserving – Beyonce, I'm looking at you!

But here comes Best Metal Performance. In this category are Anthrax's "Neon Knights," Mastodon's "High Road," Motorhead's "Heartbreaker" and Slipknot's "The Negative One" – all worthy candidates. But, when that envelope was opened, the award somehow went to ... Tenacious D's remake of Dio's "The Last in Line."

Okay, Tenacious D are great at what they do, and Jack Black and Kyle Gass came up with an amazing version of "Last in Line," doing Ronnie James Dio proud. But choosing a slap-sticky acoustic comedy duo over four incredible bands like that? It's a, pardon the pun, joke ... and it smacks of the Grammys consciously and with malice of forethought again spitting on metal. What it comes down to is this: whatever you think of the Grammys, at the very least, they are supposed to recognize sublime artistry in music. By that yardstick, it's hard to even fathom why Tenacious D was nominated in the first place.

And lest you believe this is rampant paranoia or an oversensitivity as to how metal specifically is mistreated by the Grammys, do you think for a moment they'd ever choose somebody like Tenacious D over their precious Taylor Swift or Sam Smith in any other category? Not in this lifetime. This was a decision made carelessly and deliberately so, and because of that, it's a slap in metal's corpse-painted face.

I don't buy the notion that the Grammys are simply lorded over by old geezers who somehow just don't get metal and make decisions based on a lack of awareness. That argument didn't hold water then and it doesn't now. They've had all this time since the Jethro Tull debacle to figure out how to give metal the respect it deserves. And time and time again, they prove they just don't give a shit about it. This is the Grammys saying, "Hey, I've seen those guys in the movies. Forget all the rest of those clowns. Let's give it to them. I liked 'The Pick of Destiny.' Hell, 'Nacho Libre' was a work of cinematic genius!"

And if the Grammys really and truly were paying attention to metal, wouldn't they stop trotting out the same old acts to reward retroactively for sins of the past? Wouldn't they include newer acts in the Best Metal Performance category, like Revocation, Periphery, Animals As Leaders, etc., etc.?

Trashing the Grammys is dumb. It's like a vegan trying to get McDonalds to give up beef for tofu. They'll never change. I hate talking about them. And yet, here we are. Damn it, Grammys ... you've won again. Visit and tell 'em what you think. At least Brann Dailor got to show off that cool suit.

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