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Most Egregious Grammy Shafts

February 6, 2009  |  1:00pm
Most Egregious Grammy Shafts
We know the Grammy Awards almost always get it wrong, but sometimes they get it really, really wrong. Not counting psych-prog folkers Jethro Tull edging out Metallica for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental in 1989 (a choice disqualified from this round-up, lest it make the other misfires seem like spot-on hits in comparison) here are a few more of the most egregious Grammy shafts. Know of any we missed? Don't think any of these are too bad, actually? Slug it out in the comments.

Song of the Year

1994     
Winner: Alan Menken & Tim Rice for "A Whole New World" by Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle
Losers: Billy Joel for "The River of Dreams" by Billy Joel, Jim Steinman for "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf, Sting for "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" performed by Sting, Neil Young for "Harvest Moon" performed by Neil Young
Shafted: "Harvest Moon." Fuckin' Aladdin? Really?

1987     
Winner: Burt Bacharach & Carole Bayer Sager for "That's What Friends Are For" performed by Dionne Warwick & Friends
Losers: Peter Gabriel for "Sledgehammer" performed by Peter Gabriel, Robert Palmer for "Addicted to Love" performed by Robert Palmer, Steve Winwood & Will Jennings for "Higher Love" performed by Steve Winwood, Paul Simon for "Graceland" performed by Paul Simon
Shafted: "Graceland." Friends are not for allegedly ripping off friends' songs, but at least the songs were good.

Record of the Year

1998     
Winner: "Sunny Came Home" by Shawn Colvin
Losers: "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" by Paula Cole, "Everyday Is a Winding Road" by Sheryl Crow, "MMMBop" by Hanson, "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly
Shafted: "MMMBop." My inner thirteen-year-old-self has bad bangs, awkward pants and unvanquished rage over this slight, and will go furiously journal in her room—alone, for hours, with a pink pen—if challenged. Don't make me do it.

1989     
Winner: "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin
Losers: "Giving You the Best That I Got" by Anita Baker, "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman, "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson, "Roll With It" by Steve Winwood
Shafted: "Fast Car." Sorry, Bobby. Totes unhappy.

1986     
Winner: "We Are the World" by USA for Africa
Losers: "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits, "The Boys of Summer" by Don Henley, "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News, "Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen
Shafted: "Born in the U.S.A." There comes a time to heed a certain call, and that call is "Broooooce!"

1976     
Winner: "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain & Tennille
Losers: "At Seventeen" by Janis Ian, "Lyin' Eyes" by The Eagles, "Mandy" by Barry Manilow, "Rhinestone Cowboy" by Glen Campbell
Shafted: "At Seventeen." Janis herself probably wasn't too suprised, but Tina Fey will surely back me up on this!

Album of the Year

2001     
Winner: Two Against Nature by Steely Dan    
Losers: Midnite Vultures by Beck, The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem, Kid A by Radiohead, You're the One by Paul Simon
Shafted: Kid A. Against nature, indeed.

1997     
Winner: Falling Into You by Celine Dion
Losers: Odelay by Beck, The Score by The Fugees, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins, Waiting to Exhale: Original Soundtrack Album by various artists
Shafted: Odelay. Guess two turntables and a microphone vs. fifteen producers and 32 million copies sold isn't quite a fair battle, though.

1994     
Winner: The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album by Whitney Houston
Losers: Kamakiriad by Donald Fagen, River of Dreams by Billy Joel, Automatic for the People by R.E.M., Ten Summoner's Tales by Sting
Shafted: Automatic for the People. Little known fact: Dolly Parton wrote "I Will Always Love You" about this album.  

1985     
Winner: Can't Slow Down by Lionel Richie
Losers: She's So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper, Purple Rain by Prince, Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen, Private Dancer by Tina Turner
Shafted: Purple Rain. Or Born in the U.S.A. Or, really, anything.

1981     
Winner: Christopher Cross by Christopher Cross
Losers: Glass Houses by Billy Joel, The Wall by Pink Floyd, Trilogy: Past Present Future by Frank Sinatra, Guilty by Barbra Streisand
Shafted: The Wall by Pink Floyd. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?!

1970     
Winner: Blood, Sweat & Tears by Blood, Sweat & Tears
Losers: Abbey Road by The Beatles, The Age of Aquarius by The Fifth Dimension, Crosby, Stills & Nash by Crosby, Stills & Nash, At San Quentin by Johnny Cash
Shafted: Abbey Road. Mostly just tears, here.  

Best New Artist

1990     
Winner: Milli Vanilli     
Losers: Neneh Cherry, Indigo Girls, Soul II Soul, Tone Lōc
Shafted: Neneh Cherry, Indigo Girls, Soul II Soul, Tone Lōc

1989     
Winner: Tracy Chapman     
Losers: Rick Astley, Toni Childs, Take 6, Vanessa L. Williams
Shafted: Toni Childs.

1981     
Winner: Christopher Cross     
Losers: Irene Cara, Robbie Dupree, Amy Holland, The Pretenders
Shafted: The Pretenders. Irony: They're the realest of the bunch.

1979     
Winner: A Taste of Honey     
Losers: The Cars, Elvis Costello, Chris Rea, Toto
Shafted: Elvis Costello. A taste of...wait, who?

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