Last night, there was a tweet floating around the Internet that noted that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis had already amassed four Grammys and legendary artists like Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys, and the Who have a grand total of zero among them.
The suggestion, of course, is that possessing an an armload of Academy-issued gold sippy cups doesn’t necessarily have any real correlation to artistic greatness.
Still, that doesn’t mean there weren’t some head-scratching decisions and maddening snubs during last night’s telecast, most of which happened off-camera. As surprised as Taylor Swift was that Daft Punk won the Grammy for Album of the Year last night, the French duo’s victory can’t entirely be called an upset; though there were some mild surprises among the awards handed out live at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, there wasn’t a single on-camera score that could be considered a true surprise of snub.
Luckily, there were dozens more awards given out before the televised show even started, and there lives a parade of outrage.
Let’s start with possibly the most absurd victory of the night: In their first official Grammy win, Led Zeppelin took the prize for Best Rock Album for Celebration Day, a live album full of 40-year-old songs recorded in 2007. (The fact that those songs are performed ploddingly is ultimately neither here nor there.)
In taking that prize, Led Zeppelin beat out Queens of the Stone Age, Black Sabbath, Neil Young With Crazy Horse, David Bowie, and Kings of Leon. QOTSA’s …Like Clockwork was a bracing and exciting comeback and ranks as one of the finest rock moments of 2013, and there’s no way it should have lost to Zeppelin’s hobbled victory lap.
But even if the Grammy voters were determined to give the award for Best Rock Album to an old guy, why not give it to David Bowie? His The Next Day was a convincing argument that aging rockers can remain vital and interesting even in their twilight years. Both Celebration Day and The Next Day are ruminations on the past, except Bowie’s contribution is restless while Zeppelin’s is entirely dormant.
That wasn’t the only guitar-based outrage of last night’s pre-show. Black Sabbath winning the Grammy for Best Metal Performance for the turgid “God Is Dead?” is only slightly more excusable than Zeppelin’s win, mostly because the entirety of the Best Metal Performance category was a joke. That all being said, Killswitch Engage’s “In Due Time” should have easily bested Sabbath, Anthrax, Dream Theater, and Volbeat.
Elsewhere in the rock categories, Imagine Dragons scored the win for Best Rock Performance for “Radioactive,” beating out Alabama Shakes’ “Always Alright,” David Bowie’s “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” Queens of the Stone Age’s “My God Is The Sun,” Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” and Jack White’s “I’m Shakin’.” Imagine Dragons wasn’t the worst choice (better them than Zeppelin’s entry, which came out in 1975), but it’s also probably the least “rock” of all the entries. Imagine Dragons did prove their rock bona fides when they teamed up with Kendrick Lamar to blow the doors off the Staples Center later on in the broadcast, but rock probably would have been better represented with a Queens of the Stone Age or a Jack White win. (Although there’s something vaguely inspiring by the fact that Imagine Dragons were the youngest winners in any of the rock categories.)
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ clean sweep in the rap territory was maddening as well: Their Best Rap Performance win for “Thrift Shop” is arguably justified considering what it was up against, but “Thrift Shop” was the weakest of the contenders in the Best Rap Song category (this is the place where Drake’s “Started From The Bottom” should have reigned supreme). But the truly absurd win for Macklemore was in the Best Rap Album category, where they overtook next-level releases like Kanye West’s Yeezus and Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, m.a.a.d. city. Heck, even Macklemore himself thought Lamar was robbed.
Finally, there’s one more insane footnote to last night’s proceedings: Snoop Dogg’s Reincarnated lost the prize for Best Reggae Album, which isn’t in and of itself a travesty, but it does mean that Snoop is now a remarkable 0 for 16 in Grammy races, a staggering feat considering here-and-gone rappers like Coolio, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and MC Hammer all have Grammys.
He’s got good company, though: He can join the never-won party with Nas, Queen, Bob Marley, The Ramones, and Bjork.
What was your pick for the most absurd upset of the 56th Annual Grammy Awards? Let us know below.