Lest we forget: The artless are in charge of the arts.
The Grammy is a coveted symbol of music’s accomplishment and is there to give rise and hopes to those who affect the masses – at least, that’s the goal, anyway. But, behind the scenes, whatever is happening, Heavy Metal seems to be the running joke.
Very much like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Recording Academy took their disdain and limited tolerance to a new level when it comes to our genre last night and made Metal a bad punchline.
Pointing out the elephant in the room first was the dumpster fire (like, literally?) of the Metallica/Lady Gaga performance from their latest release, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, “Moth to the Flame.”
The mashup, itself was not the issue. Lady Gaga has always been open about her admiration for Iron Maiden and being a Metalhead. Though she makes her living catering to a different audience, it’s no secret that she initially auditioned as rock act and was later ‘made’ into the icon she is today.
On her part, the Lady gave a very strong performance and worked well with the band. She was not the problem; it was everything else.
First, what possible excuse could the sound engineers and producers have for not turning on James Hetfield’s mic – and then not jumping in to fix it when they saw there was a problem? Any Metal roadie would’ve been on that shit like a flash. Granted, Hetfield’s little temper tantrum at the end didn’t soften the disaster. But still, there is no doubt that he was rightfully asking the same thing. No answer has yet to surface on the issue, so it begs the question if the Academy even cares.
Then there was that ridiculous stage production.
So much fire on that tiny patch of stage there was actual smoke, which clearly made the performers uncomfortable. And again, The Grammys show complete insensitivity for Hetfield as he was once burned so badly by pyrotechnics he had to get surgery. So, sure, let’s have huge open bonfire right behind his head in case he loses his footing, if the band doesn’t keel over from smoke inhalation.
That was bad enough. But, those models “moshing”…? No.
They weren’t cool. They weren’t making a statement. They didn’t enhance the performance or represent the culture. They were giggling and posing. They looked incredibly foolish, which in turn, made Metalheads look foolish.
Moshing in Metal is a tribal tradition, not a spectator sport or a dance form; there is no ‘Bob Fosse School of Moshing.’ And from every comment thread from Loudwire to Metal Hammer to any webzine or blog post that featured this story, not a single Metalhead who watched that shit appreciated it.
It was embarrassing and frankly, I believe that was the producers’ point.
Insult to injury, they played Metallica when Megadeth won their trophy.
The ignorance was so blatant, if the powers-that-be had any idea what kind of faux pas they made, they’d hide in a sandbox and wish for death.
The Grammys took their time to understand and appreciate Rap and Hip Hop culture before they made them official categories to be awarded in 1995. When they showcase Pop artists, Blues, or Adult Contemporary artists, it is done with memorable style, grace, elegance. But, Metal? A Metal artist has never been nominated for Album of the Year. A Metal artist outside of the popular or ‘safe’ gate with a notable name has ever won, even to the point of awarding a tribute band over original artists, which was another stab in the throat.
So, here is the message to The Grammys: If you’re going to include Metal, perhaps it’s time to understand Metal. Don’t insult us like this again.
T. Ray Verteramo
Feb. 13, 2017
UPDATE: SOURCE OF MIC TROUBLE FOUND – TMZ “…between the mic check and their act … a wire under the stage got unplugged. We’re told a stagehand did it by accident, but the damage was done — Hetfield’s mic was dead through most of the performance. They eventually fixed the unplugged wire with seconds left in the song.”