When our band finally gets big and wins a Grammy award (and it's just a matter of time), it's going to be something of a hollow victory. After all, one look at Grammy history reveals a long list of winners seemingly picked by a blindfolded man chucking darts at a wall of album covers.
71992: Best Rock Song
Fuck the Grammy, in 1992 Nirvana deserved a Nobel Peace Prize. When "Smells Like Teen Spirit" came out of left field to overtake the pop and rock music landscape, it also had the pleasing side effect of wiping glitzy, overproduced, bloated hair metal bands right off the map practically overnight. For this, rock fans almost everywhere (trailer park residents excluded) are eternally thankful.
Nobody had ever heard anything like Nevermind (except for those few odd people who were familiar with the countless bands that Nirvana was "influenced" by). Such a musical revelation couldn't possibly go unrecognized.
And the Winner is ...
Who are we kidding, of course it could go unrecognized. This is the Grammys. When the Grammys see young rock bands, they shake their cane at them and tell them to get off their lawn. The Best Rock Song category in 1992 would be no different.
In what would turn out to become a disturbing trend of dishing out big awards to undeserving rockers long past their prime, the Grammy for Best Rock Song went to Eric Clapton's unplugged and slowed-down version of "Layla."
Now, if this was 1970, "Smells Like Teen Spirt" Vs. "Layla" would be a pay-per-view-worthy battle royale of epic proportions. But it wasn't, it was 1992 and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the most important song of its day and "Layla" had morphed into a tender, acoustic ballad. Putting aside for a second that the song was over two decades old, the version of "Layla" that was nominated was about as far from rocking as you could get. Once stripped of it's memorable guitar riffs, boundless energy and devil horn-worthy awesomeness, this new, all growed-up "Layla" had no damn business being in the rock category to begin with.
In light of the fact that Clapton won approximately 60 more Grammys that evening, the least they could've done was leave him out of this one and give Nirvana their due.
But, apparently they were assuming Kurt Cobain would live another 25 years and produce an easy-listening version and they could just give it to him then.
62000: Album of the Year/Best Pop Performance/Pop Vocal Album
Let's not kid ourselves, the Grammy voters were dealing with some extremely slim pickings in 2000. Pop music was ruled by boy bands, rock was ruled by the likes of Korn and Limp Bizkit and rap was at the height of it's diamond-encrusted, Rolex-wearing, Bentley-driving materialistic douchebag phase.
There were, however, a couple of bright moments. For starters, Radiohead made everyone wait what seemed like 20 years to release the follow up to their instant classic OK Computer. What they finally gave the world was a strange mix of electronic blips, sometimes inaudible lyrics and odd song structures that somehow came together to form an album that most everyone agreed was one of the most original albums ever made.
Then there was Eminem. Was The Marshall Mathers LP controversial? Sure, but it was also the most compelling album to come from a major artist in who knows how many years. Good thing they were both nominated for Album of the Year! For once, the Grammys would be practically forced to recognize artistic merit over commercial appeal. There was no way they could fuck this up.
And the Winner is ...
We stand corrected, they could definitely fuck this up. As deserving as he may have been, the Grammy voters would have done just about anything to avoid the controversy of giving Eminem the Album of the Year award (at the time he was already drawing protests from the gay and lesbian group GLAAD).
The originality of Radiohead's album was pretty shocking to most, so going that way would've also involved controversy. Steely Dan, having just released their first album in almost 20 years (which was a big deal, according to our parents) provided the perfect escape route.
Yes, 2000, was the rare year Grammy voters didn't care about record sales. Unfortunately, they also ignored artistic merit in the interest of not wanting people to yell at them.