The Grammys Must Hate Heavy Metal

Black Sabbath before winning its Grammy this past Sunday.
Black Sabbath before winning its Grammy this past Sunday.

So, I know that as soon as the Grammys are over, there is typically an onslaught of heavy metal music journalists complaining about how the awards don't respect the genre. We all know this, in fact. The heavy metal category hasn't even been televised in more than a decade.

While I originally was going to focus on the most metal moments at NAMM this past weekend (stay tuned for that), I decided to jumped on the annual Grammys-bashing bandwagon.

That's because the problem with this year's Grammys is that there was some blatant, and I mean blatant disregard for metal. The members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences that decide the winners each year didn't just ignore the genre; every aspect of heavy metal was patronized.

Before you decide that you've hit your 15-second limit on this blog, let me clarify: heavy metal could care less if the Grammys stopped treating them like a red-headed stepchild. It's about the fact that metal musicians have influenced a vast array of the very people who are worshipped at the awards ceremony -- yet those figures aren't shown a lick of respect.

One of those figures includes the sex goddess and one of the best-selling female recording artists of all time: Madonna.

I don't think there's anything shocking about the fact that Madonna digs heavy metal. For God's sake, she's worked with Prong guitarist Monte Pittman for more than 10 years as a studio and touring guitarist, and even used him as a guitar coach. And before her Sticky & Sweet world tour in 2008, Madonna's tour manager wanted her to play her popular song "Hung Up" in D minor.  

After asking Pittman the easiest way to learn this, he told Madonna that Dimebag Darrell from Pantera once gave him the advice to "stay on top of that string" when it came to right-hand technique. And the best way to learn Drop-D tuning, as he informed her, was to learn some Pantera, particularly the riff to "A New Level," because it would be easy to remember how the notes moved up chromatically. From then on, she started playing it all the time after she finished playing "Hung Up" in rehearsals.

Madonna wound up honing and perfecting her craft by playing Pantera -- so much so that she has incorporated the riffs to "A New Level" into the live version of her popular song "Hung Up" since 2008. I'm sure its cause a majority of her fans to unjustly believe that she's a riff-writing goddess as a result.

"Ermagerd. Madonna is SO talented! She writes the coolest guitar riffs AND she can dance AND she can sing?!"

Check out the footage of the show filmed during a performance in Buenos Aires. The Pantera riffs kick in around 4:24.

So why do the Grammys insist on forsaking heavy metal every single year? Like this year, for instance, when the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal categories were merged into one award. I mean, c'mon, at least separate the two - it's two completely different genres. In the Latin field alone, there are a ton of individual categories: Best Latin Pop, Best Banda, Best Tropical Latin, Best Tejano, et cetera.

And consider these other factors:

During the annual "In Memoriam" tribute video that honors all the musicians lost during the past year, Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman was not included, despite the fact that Slayer has been nominated for a Grammy five times, and even won twice.

Shocking absolute nobody, the winner of the Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal performance category was Black Sabbath for their track "God Is Dead?" beating out Anthrax, Dream Theater, Killswitch Engage and Volbeat. It wasn't that Black Sabbath didn't deserve to win, but it's probably because they were the most recognizable band.

The same goes for the "Best Rock Song" and "Best Rock Album" category, the latter of which went to Led Zeppelin for their Celebration Day live CD. So the Best Rock Album of the year was a live album with tracks from more than 30 years ago? (And this is coming from a huge Led Zep fan.) As for Best Rock Song? It was the collaboration between Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear for "Cut Me Some Slack."


Then the ceremony ended with a collaborative performance between Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl and Linday Buckingham. All the time must have been spent on the other live acts, because the credits were running over the performance.

I wonder if it's at all possible that the Grammys have some sort of grudge against heavy metal, since it's the one genre where the musicians actually call them out on their crap. Like in 1996, when Pearl Jam won Best Hard Rock Performance, singer Eddie Vedder commented, "I don't know what this means...I don't think it means anything."

And Tool's Maynard James Keenan didn't even attend after he won one of band's Grammys, explaining:

"I think the Grammys are nothing more than some gigantic promotional machine for the music industry. They cater to a low intellect and they feed the masses. They don't honor the arts or the artist for what he created. It's the music business celebrating itself. That's basically what it's all about."

Whatever the case may be, we can cherish the most metal moment at the Grammys, brought to you by none other than Metallica with their performance of "One" with Lang Lang.

Naturally, since the Grammys hate us, there's no "official" video of the collab available on YouTube. Thankfully, one devoted metalhead came through with a relatively decent recording.

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