Welcome to GRAMMY Week! This week, from Monday to Friday, you’ll be treated to some special GRAMMY related topics, from the past to the present, all leading up to the music’s biggest night on Sunday at 8PM eastern on CBS. Let’s dive into today’s post…
Now, time for some GRAMMY wins from the weird and wacky corner of the music universe. Over the past fifty-four years, some of these choices haven’t exactly held up well are still criticized to this day. How and why did these happen? The voting committee shows us that, sometimes, they might just be a bit out of touch with the mainstream with a few of the results in these six different categories. Take a look.
THE BIG FOUR
A few entries have won Song Of The Year without hitting the top 40 on the Hot 100. In fact, they barely made the Hot 100 as is. 1966’s winner, “The Shadow Of Your Smile” by Tony Bennett, peaked at #95. Forty years later, “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” by U2 only went to #97. Both are GRAMMY darlings, but it seems sort of weird to have won such an honor without being a big national hit. Several Record Of The Year winners never made the Hot 100 at all: 2002’s “Walk On” by U2, 2005’s “Here We Go Again” by the late Ray Charles and Norah Jones and 2009’s “Please Read The Letter” by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. I think we’re at the point where this phase is over… for now.
There have been some really questionable choices for Best New Artist since the category’s been around. In 1961, television’s Bob Newhart pulled off a win, the only time a comedian has won Best New Artist. Then, in 1963, Robert Goulet took Best New Artist in one of the stranger wins, beating out Peter, Paul and Mary and The Four Seasons. Goulet only had one big hit, but it was one year after the win. 2001’s winner, Shelby Lynne, had been making the Country chart since 1989… I mean, because getting an award twelve years after your first hit is really new. We’ve also had two really left-of-center choices in the past two years: 2011’s Esperanza Spalding and 2012’s Bon Iver. We won’t have this same kind of situation this year, even if Alabama Shakes wins. I don’t need to bring up Milli Vanilli once again. Cringe all you want.
I think we’d rather forget 2008 when Herbie Hancock and friends won for River: The Joni Letters, a jazz album that beat out the late Amy Winehouse, the Foo Fighters and Kanye West. It was one of the few times in recent years that an Album Of The Year failed to certify even Gold for shipments of 500,000 copies. I think the Academy learned from their mistake. There have been other peculiar choices, especially in last decade or so, but none as much as Hancock’s win.
Lots of great R&B songs came out in 1977, but for Best R&B Song at the 1978 ceremony, the winner ending up being “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer, beating out big hits by The Emotions, Thelma Houston and two songs by The Commodores. Decent song, but one problem: it never made the R&B chart. Oops! It was Sayer’s only GRAMMY win and his charting days were done in the States by 1981.
Probably the worst offender in a genre category happened at the 1989 GRAMMY Awards with Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental. Metallica, who were the front-runners to win for their 1988 album, …And Justice For All, were defeated by Jethro Tull and their album Crest Of A Knave. Who knew a flute was metal? Guess this was a prime example of the panel “living in the past”. The controversy was well-publicized and it was such a joke that the category was dropped altogether at the next ceremony and split up into two distinct Awards.
They don’t always get it right, but at least we can look back and laugh once in a while. Any other outcomes at the GRAMMYs that you thought were totally wrong, whether in a big category or in a genre one? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel. All of my GRAMMY predictions for the upcoming ceremony are coming tomorrow! Better get to working on that post, right?