Picking the Winners at the 2022 Grammy Awards

It is that time of year again, one that brings with it its usual grousing and celebrations. Awards season is underway with the Oscars this last Sunday (did something happen that was noteworthy?), and it will continue with the Grammy Awards this week. The crème of the music world will arrive in Las Vegas (it was supposed to be held in Los Angeles back in February, but COVID guidelines at that time forced its move) on Sunday night, looking to celebrate the best in their industry (and hopefully not smacking the shit out of each other).

I always look forward to the Grammys, so I do not want to hear a lot of bitching about “rich, successful people patting each other on the back.” OF COURSE, it is rich, successful people patting each other on the back. These people work incredibly hard on their craft, not to mention the songwriters, producers, engineers, and other industry people who put together these musical creations for our entertainment. Why else do you think they give out MVP awards in professional sports? It is their way of honoring the best – and that is what the Grammys do.

Because my knowledge of the industry is in the rock field, I am going to concentrate on those categories first. At the end, I am going to offer my prediction for the four major awards – Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist. SPOILER ALERT!! It is going to be the same person, because…

Wait, I am getting ahead of myself. Here are my predictions for the major rock and metal awards for the Grammys 2022.

Best Rock Performance

“Shot in the Dark,” AC/DC
“Know You Better (Live from Capitol Studio A),” Black Pumas
“Nothing Compares 2 U,” Chris Cornell
“Ohms,” Deftones
“Making a Fire,” Foo Fighters

SHOULD WIN: “Ohms,” Deftones
WILL WIN: “Shot in the Dark,” AC/DC

With the passing of drummer Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters VERY recently, there is going to be a strong call for the group to be feted in some manner. Likewise, the posthumous release of cover songs by Cornell, the former singer for Soundgarden and Audioslave who committed suicide in 2017, is sure to draw some support. “Ohms,” however, was a magnum opus from Deftones and it should win…but it won’t.

That honor is going to go to AC/DC, who has been around now for 50 years and have only once taken home the trophy (for a rather subpar “War Machine” in 2009 for Best Hard Rock Performance). “Shot in the Dark” was an outstanding comeback for the group and it gives the voters in the Recording Academy an opportunity to say “Hey, we’re hip with the hard rock!” I’ll leave out my healthy does of sarcasm on this one!

Best Rock Song

“All My Favorite Songs,” Rivers Cuomo, Ashley Gorley, Ben Johnson and Ilsey Juber, songwriters (Weezer)
“The Bandit,” Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill and Nathan Followill, songwriters (Kings of Leon)
“Distance,” Wolfgang Van Halen, songwriter (Mammoth WVH)
“Find My Way,” Paul McCartney, songwriter (Paul McCartney)
“Waiting on a War,” Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear, songwriters (Foo Fighters)

SHOULD WIN: “Distance”
WILL WIN: “Find My Way”

“Waiting on a War” wasn’t even the best song on Foo Fighters’ “Medicine at Midnight,” so we cannot consider it here. Weezer and Kings of Leon are not going to get the award. It should go to Wolfgang Van Halen for the outstanding ode to his father, the late guitar wizard Eddie Van Halen, from Mammoth WVH’s debut record. It was a masterful piece of work that should be recognized (even though I think “Don’t Back Down” was a better song).

The rule with the Recording Academy is “if you can honor a Beatle, you do it.” And that’s why McCartney will win this award. It was not because it was a great song, it was not because “McCartney III” was a great album. It is simply because McCartney is, well, McCartney. I would love to be proven wrong, however.

Best Rock Album

“Power Up,” AC/DC
“Capitol Cuts – Live from Studio A,” Black Pumas
“No One Sings Like You Anymore Vol. 1,” Chris Cornell
“Medicine at Midnight,” Foo Fighters
“McCartney III,” Paul McCartney

SHOULD WIN: “Power Up”
WILL WIN: “McCartney III”

See above. While I personally believe that “Power Up” was the best record AC/DC has released in some time (arguably since “The Razor’s Edge”), this is where Foo Fighters would be best considered. “Medicine at Midnight” was a complete record, front to back, and this might be where they will slip in.

Unfortunately, McCartney is there too…

Best Metal Performance

“Genesis,” Deftones
“The Alien,” Dream Theater
“Amazonia,” Gojira
“Pushing the Tides,” Mastodon
“The Triumph of King Freak (A Crypt of Preservation and Superstition),” Rob Zombie

SHOULD WIN: “Amazonia”
WILL WIN: “Genesis”

The category is Best METAL Performance and, as such, the only qualifier in these five songs would be Gojira. Gojira was nominated twice in 2017 for Best Metal Performance and Best Metal Album (not awarded any more), and they are more than deserving of recognition for their work. I would like to see Dream Theater or Mastodon get some respect, too, but they may be too much on the peripheral of some voters for consideration.

This one will probably be a makeup call for Deftones not winning in the Best Rock Performance category. Although I have always considered Deftones more on the alternative edge, Grammy voters are not known for their knowledge of musical genre (remember, these voters once “honored” Jethro Tull over Metallica for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance). Thus, this is the place where Deftones will probably be receiving their award.

Now, as to the Big Four…

Last year, it was a bit of a surprise. For the first time in 40 years, the Big Four awards – Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist – were all taken home by the same artist, Billie Eilish. The last time that it occurred was in 1981, when Christopher Cross walked away with a truckload of Grammys for his song “Sailing,” and proceeded to be crushed by the MTV steamroller when it debuted in August of that year.

We’re not going to have to wait as long this time for it to happen. Olivia Rodrigo and “Driver’s License” was a MONSTER through the year, and the album it came from, “Sour,” provided a plethora of top hits. You might be able to question Rodrigo on her propensity for “borrowing” sounds from other artists (Taylor Swift, Hayley Williams of Paramore and Courtney Love of Hole is just a small list), but she has been able to concoct a debut CD that blew up the charts.

If you want to look beyond Rodrigo, there are two choices that are very apparent. The collaboration of Lady Gaga and the legendary Tony Bennett on their CD “Love for Sale” would be good candidates in the Record and Album categories as a sentimental “lifetime achievement” statement for Bennett. Meanwhile, Lil’ Nas X might make a run at a trio of awards (Record, Album, and Song of the Year) with “Montero.”

Unfortunately, a couple of the big favorites pre-Grammys are going to be overlooked. Jon Batiste and H.E.R. both received numerous nominations (eleven for Batiste, eight for H.E.R.), but I do not believe that either will crack through in the Big Four categories (they aren’t eligible for Best New Artist). This is unfortunate as both Batiste and H.E.R. have demonstrated their virtuosity as musicians and should be recognized for their outstanding work.

Set your DVR now if you do not plan on watching the 2022 Grammy Awards live – it is Sunday night at 8PM (EDT), airing on CBS. Musical performances lined up include Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak), Batiste, Eilish, H.E.R., Lil’ Nas X, Rodrigo, Chris Stapleton, John Legend, and Carrie Underwood (Foo Fighters were scheduled to be on the bill, but the death of Hawkins – which will have a “tribute segment” during the ceremonies, according to producers – has caused the band to withdraw). It should be a helluva show!

Let’s Not Act Like the Tragedy in Houston is the First Time It’s Happened…

Over this last weekend, a concert in Houston ended in tragedy. At an outdoor show at Houston’s Astroworld Festival featuring rappers Drake and Travis Scott, two of the most popular performers in the world, the 85,000-person strong crowd became so enamored with the performances that they surged towards the stage. Unfortunately, the front of the stage is an unyielding barricade, resulting in eight people being immediately killed by crushing against that barrier and more than 300 were injured.

There is no doubt that this is a tragic situation. Any loss of life when people are gathered to enjoy something – whether it is a concert, a race, a festival of any sort – should not occur. But there is one thing that we should not be doing with the Houston tragedy, and that is trying to make it like it is the first time that it’s happened and that something needs to be done about it.

The list of concert tragedies is a long one and it is not limited to a particular genre of music or its fanbase. It is one borne of several different stimuli – the excitement of the fans, whether adolescents or chemically-altered adults, promoters and venues looking to maximize the revenues for the performance, and artists whose entire purpose is to entertain the audience that has gathered to see them. All one needs to do is to look back over the annals of music history to find similar issues have happened.

One of the most famous incidences that could be compared to Houston was the Cincinnati Massacre. On December 4, 1979, a throng of fans waited in the cold Ohio night for the doors to open to a concert from The Who at Riverfront Stadium. Inside, The Who did a soundcheck to prepare for the show and, spurred by hearing the guitars roar to life, the crowd in the back surged towards the door to get the best seats available – then called “festival seating,” or basically standing to watch the show. Eleven people were killed in the stampede and the promoters, scared shitless by the potential of having to cancel the show and lose a ton of money, did not inform The Who of what occurred and allowed them to take the stage for their entire show.

This isn’t just a “70s thing” or a “States of America” thing, either. On June 30, 2000, in Roskilde, Denmark, the band Pearl Jam took the stage during a major festival. The adoring crowd of Europeans rushed the stage, resulting in the crushing of nine men against the barricades encircling the stage. Pearl Jam, for their part, stopped playing as soon as they were alerted to the problems at the front of the stage and encouraged the fans to back up, but it was too late by that point for it to save those who perished.

In Rabat, Morocco, on May 23,2009, a concert was held to promote the “modern lifestyle” of the Moroccan nation. The Mawazine Festival, featuring the legendary Stevie Wonder and Kylie Minogue, was so popular that police began to close exits to try to control who could enter the festival. The fans, noticing the police closing some of the exits, panicked and the 70,000 people in attendance surged towards the exits that were still open. Eleven people, including two children, were killed in the resulting stampede, with 40 official injuries counted.

In 1991, AC/DC was struck by tragedy in, of all places, Salt Lake City, Utah. 4000 fans packed into a theater for a show from the Aussie legends flooded towards the front of the stage…three teens were crushed to death. Altamont, Woodstock ’99…they also deserve noting. But arguably the worst of all these situations came not because of crowd behavior, but because of a myriad of mistakes that were made.

On February 20, 2003, the 80s hair metal band Great White took to the stage of a small nightclub called The Station in Rhode Island. Great White was supporting arguably what was their last popular album, Desert Moon, and the promoters made sure to pack the club with adoring fans, in fact exceeding the limits that the fire marshals had placed on people being in the club. That was just the first of the problems that occurred that night.

The band used pyrotechnics for their stage show that fateful night, and it is a huge question as to whether they had permission to do this or they did it on their own (promoters blamed Great White for using the fireworks, stating they did not have permission; the band states they did). Regardless of this fact, the pyrotechnics set off caught the soundproofing materials ablaze around the stage in the dimly lit, tiny venue. The resulting fire and stampede killed 100 people and injured another 230, with another 132 people able to get out without injury.

As you can see, there is no rhyme or reason to such tragedies. But let us try to set some new rules.

First off, you cannot blame a particular genre of music nor their fandom. As we noted in recounting these cases, rock music, rap, and country (the Mandalay Bay mass shooting), it is not the music that is making people do these types of things. You also cannot blame the fans, who are all trying, through the rules that have been set at the venue they are in, to get to the best seat that is available. But there are things that can be done as far as the promoters and the venues themselves, but it is going to drive up the cost of concerts and, as a result, concert tickets.

I cannot believe I still have to say this, but there should never be another concert held that has “festival seating.” If you cannot provide seats for the fans to sit in – whether it is an indoor show or an outdoor event – then you do not need to have your concert. It is a simple act to allow people to enjoy a show without having to jostle amongst their fellow concertgoers, first off. Secondly, it makes sure that there are not huge throngs of people that can “bum rush” a stage and potentially cause the problems that occurred in Houston.

“But what about the mosh pit?” I hear many asking. To be honest, my mosh pit days ended long ago, but the mosh pit always had a “code of conduct,” surprisingly, that was adhered to. You did not “blind side” anyone, if someone fell you helped them up, and you didn’t constantly target the same person. I’m not saying that this has to end, but there has got to be some people who inform the “new generation” about the etiquette of moshing around the stage.

There has been another cry from promoters about having to put seats out for the people in attendance. “Well, the fans will use the chairs as a weapon!” If this is what is concerning you about putting seats in a field and the concertgoers then using those chairs against each other, you have bigger problems with your concert than festival seating.

If there is not “festival” or “open” seating, that takes care of many of the problems. Cutting down on alcohol sales (there are way too many miracles of modern chemistry around a concert, especially from the “older set” that wants to relive their youth), setting a MAXIMUM number of people who can be in a certain area of the concert arena or field at a given moment (or for the concert overall – outdoor shows that probably should be 50,000 people have been known to jam in another 25,000, potentially causing problems), and increasing security at these venues that are not only there to protect the artists but also the fans would be excellent additions (this is difficult because getting qualified security in the first place is extremely difficult). These changes, however, would also place a larger burden on promoters.

Already barely making a profit from these events, promoters would have to ensure that insurance (which would most likely go up) for these concerts is able to cover every potential instance. They would have to absorb the costs of more security, maybe even the extended training that they would require…these things would not be given for free. As a result, the base costs of a concert ticket, which are already high, would go even higher. And if the promoters and ticket sellers (ahem, Live Nation…your voice is necessary here too) are not making any money from the deal, then they aren’t going to put on the concerts.

The Houston tragedy could have been avoided, but it is not like it hasn’t happened before. It is going to take a concentrated effort by all parties involved to try to ensure that this does not occur again. But you know what? It will – whenever you have a massive throng of people entranced with the entertainment of their favorite bands or artists, there is always a potential for catastrophe. You can try to ensure that all your bases are covered, but there is never anything that ensures total safety in anything in life.

Renegades Radio Podcast – Classic Rock Magazine’s 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All Time, Part Two: Who DID Make It?

ThinLizzy

Wrapping up the Renegades Radio Podcast’s look at Classic Rock Magazine’s 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All Time, we’re going to take a look at some of the artists who DID make it onto that very selective list. Included among the 100 albums were several highly successful artists and a few surprises, including TWO records from the Irish band Thin Lizzy – take a listen to where they ended up!