Kanye West's Snub and the Proud History of Grammy Incompetence

Homer Simpson proudly displays his Grammy Award for Outstanding Soul, Spoken Word or Barbershop Album.
Homer Simpson proudly displays his Grammy Award for Outstanding Soul, Spoken Word or Barbershop Album.

Adele could soon become a Grammy paper champion. Oh sure. 21 is a worthy entrant for the coveted Grammy for Album of the Year. "Rolling in the Deep," after all, topped the 2011 Pazz and Jop Poll by a pretty substantial margin. And in an era where physical releases don't sell particularly well, 21 is a remarkable outlier. The album -- which has spent an astounding nineteen non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 chart -- sold at least 17 million copies across the globe.

Those are impressive attributes for any contender for the Grammy's biggest award. And there's little question that Adele deserves praise if she ends up winning big during Sunday's award show. But there's just one problem: For some reason, the hoosiers who control the Grammys forgot to include Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in the Album of the Year category. Instead, Adele's masterwork got grouped in with Rihanna's Loud, Foo Fighters' Wasting Light, Bruno Mars' Doo-Woops & Hooligans and Lady Gaga's Born This Way.

Obviously West is a controversial figure. With his propensity for dumb statements and interrupting subpar video-makers, the Chicago MC doesn't get or deserve a whole lot of sympathy. But when it comes to judging the subjective beast that is popular music, it is difficult to make an argument that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was less deserving of an Album of the Year nomination than Loud, Doo-Woops & Hooligans or Born This Way. It was one of the better reviewed albums in recent memory, making it a better rival to 21's inevitable dominance.

(For those who are wondering -- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy missed the cutoff for last year's awards, which is why it is eligible this year despite a 2010 release date.)

That's not to say that 21 wouldn't have beaten My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy anyway. But the public will never know since Adele is going up against such subpar competition. And while others have written extensively about the stupidity of this particular decision, nobody should be surprised. This is an award show that's made a number of horrendous choices over the last few decades, most notably:

1977: Starland Vocal Band beats back Boston

"Afternoon Delight" hasn't really stood the test of time. But the Starland Vocal Band managed to beat out rock giants Boston for the Best New Artist Grammy in 1977.

Boston turned out to be one of the biggest bands of the 1970s and is still a mainstay on classic-rock radio stations across the nation. As for the Starland Vocal Band, its music is best known for being used in PCU, Arrested Development and Anchorman.

1989: Jethro Tull captures 'metal' honor

Speaking of Ron Burgundy, Jethro Tull played a very tiny role in a scene showcasing the San Diego legend's jazz flute dominance. But the band played a bigger part in one of the bigger Grammy goofs.

Make no mistake -- Jethro Tull is a great band. But can any outfit with a flute player be considered metal? Probably not. And that's an even tougher argument when Metallica's ... And Justice for All and Jane's Addiction's Nothing's Shocking are in the running. While both albums are considered seminal releases, neither could withstand the force that was Jethro Tull's Crest of a Knave, which managed to capture the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental. It was a surprise even at the time, as members of Jethro Tull didn't even attend the ceremony.

When Metallica finally won a Grammy in 1992 for its self-titled record commonly known as the Black Album, drummer Lars Ulrich thanked Jethro Tull, "for not putting out an album this year."

Scroll to read more Music News & Interviews articles (1)


Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.