Jethro Tull, New Vaudeville Band and Katy Perry: A Historical Tribute to the Worthlessness of the Grammys

katyperrygrammy225.jpgOn Wednesday night CBS aired the Grammy nominations in the form of a big concert, but the music died sometime in the first hour: Katy Perry earned an Album of the Year nomination, Glee garnered one for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals (come on), and typically tepid Grammy bait like Lady Antebellum picked up six noms. While the Grammys are supposed to represent music's biggest night on television, the ceremony remains what it has always been: a valentine to the recording industry, where popularity and obligation supersede quality. We've lined up our favorite reasons to loathe the Grammys (which is saying a lot coming from award-show junkies like us), and we hope you're dragging the needle onto your prized Jethro Tull LP as you read along.

· 1993 wasn't just a solid year for women in rock; it was the definitive year. PJ Harvey, Aimee Mann, the Breeders, and most of all Liz Phair turned out albums that would define the decade's surge in women's alternative. Unfortunately, 1993 is also a year the Grammys decided to cancel the category of "Best Rock Vocal Performance -- Female" and present a gender-neutral rock vocal award to five male nominees. In a close race, Meat Loaf beat out Bob Dylan.

· 1992 was arguably a good year for Nirvana. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" pretty much transformed the music industry overnight, no? Well, that year's Best Rock Song went not to the mulatto-mosquito anthem, but to Eric Clapton's unplugged and non-rock version of "Layla."

· The Grammys' most grating quality is its weird obligation to award legendary artists for less-than-stellar output in their latter days. (See, also: The Oscars.) The past decade's Album of the Year winners alone have included known oldsters Steely Dan, Ray Charles, and Herbie Hancock.

· While it's hard to fault the Grammys for incorrectly predicting the future, their history of awarding the Best New Artist trophy to one-hit wonders is pretty bizarre. Some awardees include Bobbie Gentry, the Starland Vocal Band, Debby Boone, a Taste of Honey, Sheena Easton, Men at Work, Milli Vanilli, Marc Cohn, and Arrested Development.

· The list of legends who've never won anything but Lifetime Achievement Grammys is predictably eye-popping: Janis Joplin, the Doors, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Bob Marley all qualify. In fact, only last year did Neil Young win his first Grammy -- for "Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package," an award given not for music, but CD artwork. And yes, there is an award for CD artwork. A better encapsulation of how tone-deaf the Grammys are could not be found.

· I have to credit Cracked for this find: 1966's Best Rock & Roll Recording (sounds dubious already, I know) went not to nominees the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, the Association, or even the Monkees. Nope, it went to a studio-musician novelty project called the New Vaudeville Band and their single "Winchester Cathedral." Even your great-grandmother, that song's intended audience, knows better. You should know that "Eleanor Rigby" and Jimi Hendrix's personal choice for the greatest song in rock history, "God Only Knows," were the losing tunes.

· Since the amount of Grammy categories exploded sometime in the past 20 years (and oodles of "rap/sung collaboration"-style niches have sprung up), many performers have been over-rewarded. Beyonce's a dynamite performer, but does she really deserve -- ahem -- 13 Grammys (plus the three she earned with Destiny's Child)? Does Alicia Keys deserve 12? Compare that to artists who've been around much longer like seven-time winner Madonna, five-time winner Elton John, four-time winner Carole King, and zero-time winner Bjork, and the tally doesn't quite add up.

· The introduction of a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in the 1989 ceremony sparked polite applause from the headbanger community, but their joy was short-lived. Flute-playing folkies Jethro Tull won the inaugural award over actual rockers like Metallica, AC/DC, Iggy Pop, and Jane's Addiction. Figuring they had no chance of winning, Jethro Tull didn't even show up to accept the award. The upset remains the Grammys' signature moment in insanity.


  • halligator says:

    Jethro Tull is so much better than the other nominated bands.That's why they won!Listen to "Cross Eyed Mary"-Now,listen to Metallica's cover of it.Metallica is awful.

  • The Winchester says:

    I love how the Hard Rock category could have easily been the same in 1994 as now.
    Team Soundgarden!

  • Mikeman says:

    Metallica didnt cover Cross-eyed Mary, but Iron Maiden did, i like it, but I am also a big Tull fan, Tull was one of the biggest bands of the 70's and they have many rock hits (Aqualung, minstrel in the gallery, etc) Heavy metal no, hard rock, well, sometimes, Tull did deserve a grammy for best freakin non conformist band with musicians who can acutally play music, but dont blame the tull boys for the goofy grammy people.

  • Bart says:

    Katy Perry being nominated for Album of the Year would be like Grown Ups getting a Best Picture nod.

  • Irenaeus says:

    Thank you. There is a video on YouTube of Tull's "Cross-Eyed Mary" covered by Iron Maiden, though it is incorrectly identified as a cover by Metallica. Tull has sometimes added a touch of Monty Python and Benny Hill to often great music spanning a spectrum of genres: folk, classic, jazz, blues, hard rock, and, yes, even heavy metal. I believe ironically, it was Tull's "No Lullaby" that inspired or suggested Metallica's "Sandman."

  • George says:

    Glee being nominated is like if Up With People or The Brady Kids or The Archies had been nominated for Grammys.

  • C-mo Love says:

    Yes Beyonce does deserve -ahem- all 13 of the awards she has receieved. She should have won 14 for "Album of the Year" last year. God knows I love Madonna, but she does not have a strong voice! Why do people always forget this fact? Beyonce not only has an amazing voice, but can dance, and she is a brilliant performer. Grammys are based on things like "Best (Insert Category Here) Vocal Performance" and to me Beyonce voice is unmatched in the game. Stop the hate...when legends like Paul McCartney (google it) say they'd put Beyonce on their cover that should be the proof you need.

  • Jim Cook says:

    Last I checked, Sheena Easton had several Top 40 hits. Are all your articles so poorly researched?

  • Uncle Ernie says:

    Jethro Tull is one of the best hard rock heavy Metal bands of all times the one time the Grammys actually got it right. You might have thought Movie Line would have a columnist that knew what he was talking about! But if you did you'd be wrong! Sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intents. Yeah that folk all right!

  • Get off your high horse. says:

    Despite the so-called industry "professionals" that brush off the cast of Glee as just a gimic without legitimate talent behind them, if you did your research (which i now know that you didn't) you would know that the cast of Glee are the hardest working young people in entertainment today, and definitely deserve a Grammy nomination. Why are you writing for this site? You are obviously completely unaware of what is actually going on.

  • dirtyharry says:

    Taste of Honey beat out Elvis Costello for Best New Artist in 1978 or'77. I boycotted the Grammy's for years after that.

  • P Smith says:

    The "award" given out should not be a model of a gramophone.
    It should be a mirror. That way, the worthless "winners" can continue looking at themselves, as well as the record industry executives have somewhere to cut their cocaine on.
    And by the way, it isn't just the Grimy awards that are irrelevant, the "rock and roll hall of fame" is equally so. People only get nominated so old records can be repackaged and resold.

  • Ryan E. says:

    thank you for that, I was ready to blow a gasket at that line about Beyonce... smh

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