Music History

7 Grammy Wins That Underscore How the Grammys Suck

I’ll say it one more time: the Grammys are designed as a mass-appeal prime-time TV broadcast that seeks to appeal to the greatest number of mainstream (read: passive) music fans possible. The target is the kind of person that buys three CDs a year at the counter at Starbucks. All they care about is a good beat and a singable chorus.

If you’re a hardcore music fan–and if you’re reading this post, chances are you are–you have no right to expect that the Grammys won’t suck. Yeah, there was that time Arcade Fire cleaned up, but that was a total fluke. This year’s broadcast will have high ratings and bad music.

But the Grammys have brought on their reputation of suck themselves, too.  Here are examples of winners who shouldn’t have won under any circumstances.

1. 1967: Frank Sinatra wins Album of the Year

Sure, A Man and His Music is an okay record. But I’m going to bet that more people own the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Although I could be wrong.

2.  1979: A Taste of Honey wins Best New Artist

Who? Exactly. But you probably remember other nominees Elvis Costello and The Cars, right?

3.  1981: Christopher Cross wins Album of the Year

Yeah, Pink Floyd’s The Wall really sucked.

4.  1985: Lionel Richie wins Album of the Year

Yeah, it’s better than Prince’s Purple Rain.

5. 1989: Jethro Tull wins Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance. 

Imagine Metallica’s reaction when …And Justice for All didn’t win. How was that even possible?

6. 1992: Eric Clapton wins Best Rock Song

His mellow acoustic re-recorded version of “Layla” was judged better than some punk song called “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

7. 2001: Steely Dan wins Album Over the Year

Their Two Against Nature was a better album than Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP? Apparently.

And I didn’t even bring up the Milli Vanilli fiasco in 1990. Then we have this list of 20 classic albums that were totally snubbed by the Grammys.

The Grammy suck. Enjoy the broadcast.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38321 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

14 thoughts on “7 Grammy Wins That Underscore How the Grammys Suck

  • I gave up watching when Bobby McFerrin won for best song and record of the year for “Don’t Worry Be Happy”.

    P.S..I think you’re great and have been listening to you for year! Thank you!! 🙂

  • dont disagree with you. But Im sure if went through your career of calling out talent we’d find just as many blemishes.

  • Don’t worry Be Happy was a pretty big record. What was it up against that should have been chosen instead?

  • Grammys, Junos, CMAs, CCMAs are all somewhat political in nature.. its often not the ‘best’ who wins, but who has the most financial support or largest record label etc.. and yeah that sucks.

  • AC/DC is playing tonight though. I’ll pvr it and skip the bullshit to see them play.

  • Can you write one of these for the Junos please?

  • The Beatles’ “Revolver” lost to “A Man and His Music” in 1967. “Sgt Pepper’s” won in 1968, beating Sinatra’s “Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim.”

    • that, in mind, is an even bigger tradgedy.

  • I think The biggest piss off was last year when Trent Reznor and Queens of the Stone Age performed last and the broadcaster cut it off. Yet all the shitty pop acts got their performances in earlier.

  • Alan, can you add the time Kanye said “Beck needs to respect artistry” to that list!

  • Tenacious D beat Mastodon, Slipknot, Motorhead, and Anthrax with a cover song (granted Antrhax was also nominated for a cover). I like Tenacious D but to give the Best Metal Performance Grammy to a comedy duo over such juggernaught bands is just a slap in the face to the genre. It’s the only Grammy metal bands are ever gonna win just because it’s a bogus system. I’ve been fuming over this all day! Glad to hear you say that it’s all B.S. I’m not nearly as upset now


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