Trent Reznor tweets that the show was ‘music’s biggest night … to be disrespected’
The 2014 Grammys provided its share of memorable moments, ranging from the disappointing, to the endearing, to the utterly confusing. Viewers, performers, winners, and losers alike took to social media to voice their opinions on the event. However, a few aspects of the show, most notably the awards given in the Rap and Rock categories, have been called out as more suspect than the award show’s predictably mediocre output.
Hip-hop collaborators Macklemore and Ryan Lewis nearly swept the rap category, winning Best Rap Performance (for “Thrift Shop”), Best Rap Album (for The Heist), and Best Rap Song (again, for “Thrift Shop”). They narrowly avoided a full sweep of the category, as Jay Z and Justin Timberlake picked up the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration award for “Holy Grail”. The sweep was considered by many to be a shock, considering the inclusion of Kanye West’s Yeezus and Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City on the list of nominees. In fact, Macklemore himself publicized, via his Instragram account, a text that he allegedly sent to Kendrick Lamar in apology for his win. The text read: “You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have. It’s weird and sucks that I robbed you. I was gonna say that during the speech. Then the music started playing during my speech and I froze. Anyway, you know what it is. Congrats on this year and your music. Appreciate you as an artist and as a friend. Much love.” Macklemore and Lewis also won the award for Best New Artist.
Another award that invited speculation was Best Rock Album. The nominees for the award were Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Kings of Leon, Led Zeppelin (who won), Queens of the Stone Age, and Neil Young with Crazy Horse, the most recently formed of which—that is, Kings of Leon—was formed fifteen years ago. The criteria for Rock Album is nebulous at best, and the list of past winners, which includes The Black Keys, Coldplay, and Bruce Springsteen, emphasizes the degree to which the designator “rock” has become outdated. Perhaps all of more recently formed rock bands were funnelled into the equally unclear categories of Alternative and Metal, the latter of which Black Sabbath was also nominated for.
The evening also saw its fair share of odd collaborations and questionable performances, although there were a few standout performances. Among these was wife and husband Beyoncé and Jay Z, who opened the televised segment of the evening with what was supposed to be a surprise performance of the track “Drunk in Love”, from Beyoncé’s truly surprising late December release. One of the more questionable performances of the evening was Metallica’s rendition of their metal hit “One”, which was meant to pay tribute to the late Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed, who collaborated with the metal band on an ill-advised album in 2011.
Although the reputation of the Grammys has long been disparaged, the utter mess that was this year’s show stands out as one of the most confused and irrelevant in its history.