And the Winner Is…
We’re at the tail end of that magical time of year when pampered artistes gather together to pat themselves on the back and make pretentious speeches while wearing dubious fashion – AWARD SEASON!
We here at Hard Rock love us some award shows. If artists we dig are being honored, it’s just tremendous. If they’re not, we can still argue about how our favorites got snubbed and feel superior. It’s win-win!
In tribute, here are some of our favorite award show moments.
Nirvana’s 1992 VMA performance
This was one of the greatest years for the VMAs, but the highlight was definitely Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic’s ill-fated bass toss. Krist launched his bass into the air, but couldn’t stick the landing. The result was the full force of a Gibson bass (a very heavy instrument) crashing down on his noggin. That’s gonna leave a mark…
Self awareness? What’s that?
Here’s one from 2019 and it’s a doozy. Remember last year when Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said that women in music needed to “step up”? In this year’s broadcast, they cut Best New Artist winner Dua Lipa’s acceptance speech to a mere 30 seconds, played her off mid-speech and cut to a commercial. When they came back from the break, Neil Portnow himself took the stage and pontificated for a full three and a half minutes. Look at it this way: Dua Lipa “stepped up” and actually won a Grammy, yet the president of the Recording Academy felt he deserved 700% more stage time to deliver a speech no one cared about. That whole privilege thing? Exhibit A.
“Wu Tang is for the children!”
When Shawn Colvin won Record of the Year for Sunny Came Home at the ’98 Grammys, ODB of the Wu Tang Clan bum-rushed the stage and took matters into his own hands. This was 11 years before Kanye West did the same thing to Taylor Swift and is truly one for the ages.
Lady Gaga at the 2010 VMAs
The meat dress – ’nuff said. Here’s a fun fact: our pals over at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame acquired this dress, had it cured into jerky and put it on display.
Lady Gaga at the 2011 Grammys
Gaga makes the list twice because she never disappoints. Her wildly over-the-top entrance at the 2011 Grammys is the stuff of award show legend. Her Ladyship took the pretentiousness of these events to a new extreme by arriving in a giant egg. It’s so aggressively bizarre and self-conscious, but it’s also an amazing bit of satire. Check it out:
Isaac Hayes is a snazzy dresser
Let’s go all the way back to 1972. In those heady days of the Nixon administration, soul icon Isaac Hayes won an Oscar for “Theme from Shaft” – one of the funkiest, coolest and most unique songs ever recorded. He attended the ceremony in an outfit that has to be seen to be believed. It’s a definitive bit of ’70s couture and features an oversized, plush bow tie because of course it does. Can you dig it?
“I’ma let you finish…”
You knew this one was coming. Kanye West’s stage takeover at the 2009 VMAs during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech is one of the most infamous moments in live television. Somehow he manages to make it all about himself even while praising Beyoncé. It’s still cringe-worthy a decade later.
Metallica gets snubbed
1989 was the first year that the Grammys added a category for metal. Better late than never I suppose, but the Recording Academy was completely dismissive of heavy music until relatively recently. Nothing illustrated this better than the very first metal Grammy going to… Jethro Tull (because nothing says “metal” quite like a renaissance-fair-looking dude with a flute). Metallica was an absolute lock for this award as they had just released the now-classic …And Justice for All album, so Jethro Tull didn’t even bother to attend the ceremony. The backlash was fierce.
The swan dress
In 2001, Icelandic genius Bjork was nominated for an Oscar for her brilliant work in Dancer in the Dark. She didn’t win the award, but she certainly made an impression with her swan dress.
Madonna gets down
The debut of the VMAs in 1984 had a ton of memorable moments, but none as iconic as Madonna writhing on the ground in a lace wedding dress singing “Like a Virgin”. The dress she wore is now a part of Hard Rock’s memorabilia collection.
Girl You Know It’s True…
The 1990 Grammys will be forever remembered as a low point. This was the year the industry honored Milli Vanilli with a Best New Artist award. Of course, it soon came out that the Milli Vanilli guys were’t singers, didn’t perform on the record and were essentially actors. It was a game-changing moment in popular music. The backlash drummed the duo out of the industry and led to singer Rob Pilatus’s subsequent suicide. It’s just depressing in every way – especially when you consider the way pop music is manufactured in the 21st century. If only Milli Vanilli had come along after Auto-Tune had been invented…