So, they’re handing out the Grammy’s tonight. Ooh, can you feel the excitement? Me neither. Not only is the award ceremony an entirely irrelevant display of prefabricated pop-stars performing for peanuts, but the 55th edition now features 100 per cent less side-boob. I’m certainly not onside with that!
Ah, but there is a Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance category, you say. Indeed there is. In fact, there used to be two categories, Best Hard Rock Performance and Best Metal Performance, before the academy decided to combine the two last year, for the first time since 1988. What was so special about ’88? Well…
Don’t get me wrong, I like flutes just as much as the next devoted disciple of Blood Ceremony. But you know what I’m not so big on? Jethro Tull. In particular, their 1987 release, Crest of a Knave, which has been compared to Dire Straits–a band that ruined my early childhood along with Supertramp. (Thanks Dad!) But while their sixteenth studio album was somewhat of a disappointment by Jethro Tull standards, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences nevertheless saw fit to award it the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental over Iggy Pop, Jane’s Addiction, AC/DC and Metallica. Know who wasn’t so happy about that?
Well, Metallica, for starters. They were considered such a lock to win that the band was invited to perform at the awards show. On the other hand, Tull didn’t even bother showing up, as they were booed when the winner’s name was announced. Of course, NARAS made up for this by awarding Alternica the first three Best Metal Performances of the 1990’s, but that did little to soothe Lars Ulrich’s bruised ego. As Captain Trashcan told Guitar World some 20 years later, “I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was disappointed. Human nature is that you’d rather win than lose, but Jethro Tull walking away with it makes a huge mockery of the intentions of the event.”
Even after Hard Rock and Metal were split into separate categories, there was still some crossover between the two. For instance, it appears the Academy realized in 2000 that Metallica was no longer a metal band, awarding them Best Hard Rock Performance (“Whiskey in the Jar”) over a distinguished field that included Korn, Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit along with Buckcherry and Alice in Chains. Five years earlier, Soundgarden won both Hard Rock (“Black Hole Sun”) and Metal (“Spoonman”) categories, keeping the latter out of the hands of Anthrax and Public Enemy–for a live version of a song recorded four years earlier, no less!
Speaking of live versions, the Academy sometimes takes the easy way out and decides that someone’s concert performance of a classic track was better than anything recorded that year, hence Black Sabbath’s 2000 Grammy for “Iron Man” or Judas Priest’s 2010 win for “Dissident Aggressor,” a pair of songs written in the 70’s. Then again, it’s not hard to see how “Iron Man” won Best Metal Performance, considering that it was up against three industrial artists (Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Rob Zombie) and Motorhead covering “Enter Sandman!” Even putting Lemmy on vocals doesn’t magically make Alternica’s sell-out anthem metal!!!
Do I really need to go on? Well, last year’s Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance went to the Foo Fighters, in a field that also included Mastodon, Megadeth, Dream Theater… and Sum 41. This year’s nominees are Anthrax, Halestorm, Iron Maiden (for a live version of “Blood Brothers” no less), Lamb of God, Marilyn Manson and Megadeth. No matter who wins tonight’s award, it’s safe to say I couldn’t care less.
Oh yeah, I’m also doing a standup comedy gig in a couple weeks time. Come check me out at Amateur Sunday Afternoon feat. Gruesome Greg (+10 other comedians) @ Absolute Comedy, 2335 Yonge St, Sunday, March 3rd. Doors @ 2:30, show starts @ 3 pm. $5.