Music awards – why do we even care?

Mastodon Grammy 2018

You probably know by now that Mastodon won the Grammy for Best Metal Performance and Foo Fighters won for Best Rock Song. Hooray for hard rock and heavy metal, right? Well, it’s not all that glorious. Let the annual metal hate flow through you because we are going to talk about the topic all metal heads love to hate: Awards!

Every year we complain about who got snubbed at the Grammys, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and other award shows. The awards are problematic on several levels. Take the Grammys for instance. 70 of the 84 Grammy Awards in 2018 were handed out in a non-televised event. No one watches it, nobody cares. Of course, Best Metal Performance and Best Rock Song were among them. Avenged Sevenfold were nominated for the first time for Best Rock Song.  Front man M. Shadows announced beforehand that he wouldn’t go. “Fuck ’em,” he reportedly said. “I mean, how marginalized has rock become when ‘Rock Song’ of the year can’t get two minutes?”

Tool has won the award for Best Metal Performance twice. After their second win in 2001 lead singer Maynard James Keenan explained why he didn’t attend by saying: “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.”

The Grammys have arguably never been good at honoring innovation and trendsetters either. The nominees are usually well-established bands that are sticking to their well-known formula. At times it seems that the winners are being awarded for their long service to music. Take Iron Maiden for instance. They won their first Grammy in 2011 for the song “El Dorado”. Not to take anything away from Iron Maiden or their incredible career but they should have received a Grammy for their groundbreaking music in the 80s, not for a song that follows the same formula more than two decades later.

And then you have the annual discussion about the inductions to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This year Bon Jovi were inducted ahead of Judas Priest. Of course lots of people were mad because they felt that Judas Priest got snubbed. Both bands have been important to rock music, so stop bickering about the little things. The real problem lies in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation itself. It is supposed to recognize and archive the history of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have had some major influence on the development of rock and roll.

The name itself is a joke. After the turn of the millennium lots of hip-hop artists and groups have been nominated and inducted. In 2007 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were inducted ahead of the Dave Clark Five. Roger Friedman of Fox News claimed in an article that “The Dave Clark Five got six more votes than Grandmaster Flash. But he [Jann Wenner, the foundation’s chairman] felt we couldn’t go another year without a rap act.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation later denied fixing the vote. Cheating or no cheating aside, I have nothing against hip-hop, but if it’s a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame then the nominees should be acts that have affected rock in some fashion. Otherwise just call it Music Hall of Fame!

If these awards are good for anything it is that our hate for these awards brings us together. We metal heads are a proud people and we want the world to know that we are proud of the bands and artists we know and love. But who are we trying to impress? Do we need the mainstream acknowledgement? We certainly don’t need to be arguing amongst ourselves about which band deserved a nomination or a win the most. Go buy the albums from bands you like. Go see their shows. That’s how you support metal. Not by bickering about mainstream awards.

In the end, awards mean nothing. Music is not a competition. Music is art. This is not better than that. It’s just different and we have different taste. You like what you like and I like what I like. And that’s fine.


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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