10 Times the Grammys Got It Wrong

Metallica is metal. Jethro Tull? Not so much.
Metallica is metal. Jethro Tull? Not so much.
Photo courtesy of BB Gun Press

The Grammys have been around now for almost 60 years; the 59th edition of the famed music awards show emanates Sunday night from Staples Center in Los Angeles. During that time, the Grammys have showcased the best and brightest in music. From star-making performances from the likes of Ricky Martin and Adele to powerful statements from artists like Kendrick Lamar, the Grammys have given viewers plenty to celebrate over the years.

Of course, the Grammys have also given us plenty to deride as well. That holds particularly true for the awards themselves.

U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is a perfectly fine record, if somewhat redundant when compared to its superior predecessor, 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind. So it was somewhat disappointing that the album won every award for which it was nominated at the 2006 Grammys. One of those came at the expense of Kanye West, whose classic Late Registration lost out to U2 in the Album of the Year category. Say what you will about Kanye and his antics, and many have, but dude put out a Top 20 all-time hip-hop record, and the Grammys should have responded accordingly.

I don’t even really like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, though it’s hard to deny their 1999 comeback album, Californication, is an all-timer in the rock pantheon. Creed, meanwhile, was a band that fused pop sensibilities with a second-rate attempt at Pearl Jam. It wasn’t so much surprising that Creed’s cliché-ridden “With Arms Wide Open” bested the Peppers’ “Californication” for Best Rock Song at the 2001 Grammys — the awards have traditionally gone the “safe” route. It was simply a bit of a letdown.

For starters, Milli Vanilli’s music was abominable and certainly not deserving of any kind of awards-show love. More important, the dudes who won the awards weren’t even singing the songs! This lip-syncing revelation led to Robert Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan being stripped of their 1990 Best New Artist Grammys, only nine months after winning the award in the first place. So distraught was Pilatus over the controversy, and subsequent fallout, that he fell into a pit of substance abuse and eventually died from an overdose in 1998. He was only 32.

Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” is a pretty terrific song, one that holds up to this day. Need proof? Cue it up on karaoke night and survey the crowd reaction. However, the song isn’t exactly peer-worthy of fellow nominees Dr. Dre (“Keep Their Heads Ringin’”), 2Pac (“Dear Mama”) and Notorious B.I.G. (“Big Poppa”). Not that Coolio was the worst of the nominees; not when Skee-Lo’s “I Wish” was among the contenders.

Nas, an absolute legend in the hip-hop game, has been nominated for 12 Grammys during his career and not won a damn one of them. Moving on.

This one really isn’t so much about Hancock, whose 2008 Album of the Year win for River: The Joni Letters sent shock waves throughout pop culture. Even still, many people were disappointed that Amy Winehouse’s breakthrough, Back to Black, didn’t take home the honor, particularly considering its biggest single, “Rehab,” won both Record and Song of the Year. Back to Black is essentially the perfect pop record, one with its own sound, and a taste of what she might have given audiences had Winehouse not passed away in 2011 at age 27.

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