Many have struggled to understand why certain artists and bands gets nominated in the rock and metal categories at the Grammy Awards. There have been many surprises over the years with the awards and the ceremony, including previous winners like Led Zeppelin’s live album Celebration Day consisting of 40 year-old songs, CBS cutting off Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age’s performance at the end of the show, snubbing the late Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman in the “in memoriam” section, and much more. With that said, we continue to hope that things will change and it seems there has been an improvement with this year, with less mainstream metal bands Gojira and Baroness nominated.
However, we cannot get past looking at the “Best Rock Performance” category that includes R&B/pop icon Beyoncé nominated for her song with Jack White. Firstly, this has nothing against her since she is a well-respected artist in her category, what we cannot understand is, how is this song considered rock music? I made an attempt to hear it myself and rock music does not stand out from this aside from seeing that White is part of it. This particular category has a broad list of nominees that includes David Bowie, Twenty One Pilots, Disturbed, and last year Grammy winners The Alabama Shakes which makes it seem to lack a musical direction.
We weren’t the only ones confused. We heard about Billboard’s discussion of this topic with Disturbed frontman David Draiman, who stated “When you can have, with all due respect, a Beyonce and a Disturbed in the same category, something has gone wrong.” As this issue continues to spread, Metal Injection managed to get a hold of the Recording Academy’s Senior Vice President, Awards, Bill Freimuth to discuss this year’s nominees.
Freimuth started off with,
“When you exclude metal, the rock category is one of our biggest umbrellas. Not quite as broad as pop, but maybe the next up in terms of what constitutes rock. – it can be blues rock, folk rock, ballads. All of that. I think what we found this year is that so many artists that were in rock or adjacent to rock were really taking more sonic risks this year than ever before, and it made for a really exciting dynamic landscape in that field.”
As Freimuth described these categories he defended Beyoncé’s placement in the rock category with,
“That recording has Jack White in it and it has Led Zeppelin samples in it and I think it’s Beyoncé really stretching. It’s an artist at the height of her musical powers, really reaching in many different directions and we are all the better for it.”
As the interview continued, Freimuth discussed the voting process:
“Every one of our thirteen thousand members can vote in the general fields and then for the genre fields, like the rock field, you get to choose up to 15 categories remaining 80 to vote in. So people have to be really selective, and we say that one should only be voting in a category where they have expertise. So, presumably, the people who are voting in metal have expertise in metal.”
Freimuth continued stating that no one in the business aspect of the music industry is eligible to vote. The whole article is interesting and you can check it out here. As far as a metal performances go at the 2017 ceremony, that remains a mystery, but we’ll see if they announce anyone on the heavier side.