2023’s Rock & Metal Grammy Nominees Are A Mixed Bag Of Disappointment

With 2023’s rock and metal Grammy nominees, it looks like the Recording Academy has missed yet another opportunity to spotlight both newer artists and critically acclaimed releases following Tuesday’s announcement.

That being said, not all of this year’s nominees are disappointing.

From Turnstile to Idles, there several noteworthy selections among this year’s pickings that are well deserving of praise. However, the vast majority of this year’s nominees showcase the Grammys’ habitual tendency of selecting boilerplate and legacy acts as the face of modern rock music.

Starting off with the category for best rock performance, the following artists have been selected as nominees:

Best Rock Performance

Beck – “Old Man”

The Black Keys – “Wild Child”

Brandi Carlile – “Broken Horses”

Bryan Adams – “So Happy It Hurts”

Idles – “Crawl!”

Ozzy Osbourne Featuring Jeff Beck – “Patient Number 9”

Turnstile – “Holiday”

Predicted Winner: The Black Keys – “Wild Child”

Who Should Win: Turnstile – “Holiday”

Aside from Turnstile and Idles, each of the artists from this category have been previously nominated and chosen as Grammy winners on several occasions. This is exactly where the problem lies for the vast majority of rock’s Grammy nominees, and it’s been one of the longest standing problems for the genre altogether.

The Grammys are so reluctant to pick newer artists within rock that are actually changing the landscape of the modern scene, and instead they rely too heavily on standards like Ozzy Osbourne and Bryan Adams.

However, Turnstile and Idles are the among newer bands who’ve both making big waves in mainstream rock. Both bands have done massive sold out tours and have gotten attention from late night talk show programs among many other outlets. That being said, they’re inclusion among this year’s nominees is one of the biggest wins for not only rock, but the sub-genres of hardcore and punk music.

Best Metal Performance

Ghost – “Call Me Little Sunshine”

Megadeth – “We’ll Be Back”

Muse – “Kill or Be Killed”

Ozzy Osbourne Featuring Tony Iommi – “Degradation Rules”

Turnstile – “Blackout”

Predicted Winner: Ozzy Osbourne Featuring Tony Iommi – “Degradation Rules”

Who Should Win: Ghost – “Call Me Little Sunshine”

Moving on to ‘Best Metal Performance,’ many would argue that this category has seen the worst history among all the rock specific Grammy categories. From Tenacious D winning Best Metal Performance in 2012 to the snub in 1989 where Jethro Tull was nominated and then won Best Metal Performance over Metallica, the Grammys have routinely left metal fans scratching their heads over the years from these puzzling decisions.

However, in recent years things have certainly gotten better with this category, but not all is great. Ghost, Megadeth, and Ozzy Osbourne are the only nominees from this year that could be classified as metal, and all of them have won a Grammy in previous years. Muse, who may have dabbled with metal on their latest record, are by no means a metal band nor have they ever been classified as one.

Even more confusing, the Grammy’s have put Turnstile’s “Blackout” into both Best Metal Performance and Best Rock Song. Turnstile is easily the best nominee among this year’s rock category as a whole, but it’s a little bit of a stretch to label them as a metal band, especially when there are actual trending metal bands that would have been a better fit such as Spiritbox, Knocked Loose, and Architects to name a few.

Best Rock Song

Brandi Carlile – “Broken Horses”

Ozzy Osbourne Featuring Jeff Beck – “Patient Number 9”

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Black Summer”

Turnstile – “Blackout”

The War on Drugs – “Harmonia’s Dream”

Predicted Winner: Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Black Summer”

Who Should Win: Turnstile – “Blackout”

A similar critique can be made with the Grammy’s Best Rock Song category.

While most of the featured nominees here fit the classification of being a ‘rock’ artist, Turnstile are the only nominee here who’ve not previously been nominated or won a Grammy. It’s hard to believe that Turnstile is the only newer artists that the Recording Academy could find for this category, as there are a number of great young rock bands who’ve released stellar work in recent years.

Brandi Carlile, Ozzy Osbourne, and Red Chili Peppers are tremendous artists in their own right, but they feel like very safe picks for nominees, especially considering their past recognition at the Grammys.

Best Rock Album

The Black Keys – Dropout Boogie

Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Boy Named If

Idles – Crawler

Machine Gun Kelly – Mainstream Sellout

Ozzy Osbourne – Patient Number 9

Spoon – Lucifer on the Moon

Predicted Winner: Machine Gun Kelly – Mainstream Sellout

Who Should Win: Idles – Crawler

Lastly, 2023’s Best Rock Album category shares many of the same artists from the previously discussed categories, and therefore many of the same critiques. Given the success seen from Machine Gun Kelly’s Mainstream Sellout, it’s only fitting and expected of the Academy to select him as a nominee, and the same can be said about both The Black Keys and Ozzy Osbourne’s new records.

None of these records offer much substance as far as pushing the boundaries of rock music, but their overall success tends to outweigh that of sonic exploration. Idles, Spoon, and Elvis Costello are certainly more appropriate picks in this respect, but overall the Recording Academy has missed another opportunity to highlight actual trending and intuitive rock artists.

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