Why do the Grammys hate metal?

That question is among the Top 10 internet search terms when combining the words "Grammys" and "metal," according to the search database website Keyword Tool.

But do the Grammy Awards actually hate heavy metal? And if so, why is that the case?

Do the Grammys Hate Metal?

As one might presume, the Grammys' historical neglect of the metal genre often gets attributed to the ceremony's inclination towards more mainstream, commercially successful genres. With its diverse subgenres and often intense, unconventional sound, metal may not align with the mainstream tastes that the Grammy voting body typically celebrates.

READ MORE: Who Won + Who Should've Won Each Metal Grammy, Year by Year

Plus, the selection process and voting members of the Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammys, have faced criticism for not fully understanding or appreciating the nuances of metal. As a result, metal artists who have made significant contributions to the music industry may not receive the recognition they deserve, leaving many metal fans and musicians feeling marginalized within the Grammy landscape.

Of course, despite all this, there is a metal Grammy Awards category, and there have been multiple instances where metal acts have earned Grammy awards. Still, the perception remains that an overall lack of appreciation for the genre persists within the Academy.

Metal Music + the Grammys

The Grammys didn't officially recognize metal music until the 31st Annual Grammy Awards in 1989, and the result was a debacle many metal fans still harbor a grudge over. Metallica, widely expected to win the first-ever combined category awards for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental, lost out to Jethro Tull, who certainly have hard rock material but aren't metal. Headbangers felt slighted.

In response to the subsequent outcry in the rock and metal press, the Grammys split the category (more understandably) into Best Hard Rock Performance and Best Metal Performance. (Best Metal Performance is still around now. The other award is now just called Best Rock Performance.)

Metallica hold the record for the most wins in the metal category, with seven wins as of Sunday's 66th Annual Grammy Awards, when Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo was on hand to accept Metallica's award for "72 Seasons." They were up against Spiritbox, Slipknot, Ghost and Disturbed.

Robert Trujillo of Metallica accepts the "Best Metal Performance" award for "72 Seasons" onstage during the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Peacock Theater on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
Metallica's Robert Trujillo accepts the band's 2024 award. (Amy Sussman, Getty Images)

New Metal vs. Old Metal

And that brings up another point about metal Grammys. Even in trying to assuage a segment of the metal-listening audience, are those who vote for the winners in the Recording Academy simply out of touch with modern metal?

READ MORE: Slipknot Members Past + Present Attend the 2024 Grammy Awards - Photos

At this year's ceremony, in sort of an updated outcome of the 1989 award, many felt it a travesty that a newer band such as Spiritbox didn't win, instead giving Metallica a seventh award.

How things change! Now Metallica are the dinosaurs, and Spiritbox are the young new band that got slighted.

How Things Work

Should metal fans be unhappy? Or should they be content that the Academy is at least trying?

There are other instances the Recording Academy seemed oblivious to metal. For the 2012–2013 awards season, the metal award was discontinued temporarily in a major overhaul of categories. The newly formed Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance took over, only to again be split up in 2014, bringing back the Best Metal Performance category and putting hard rock performances in with the Best Rock Performance category.

Perhaps showing it was striving to understand metal better, the Recording Academy said in 2013, "It was determined that metal has a very distinctive sound and hard rock more closely aligns with rock and can exist comfortably as one end of the rock spectrum."

Indeed, it appears the Academy continually tries to be more accepting of heavy metal while still having to toe the line for the mainstream public.

It's up to you to decide whether metal fans should be happy with that, or protest that it's just not enough.

Metallica Win Best Metal Performance (2024)

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Gallery Credit: Jordan Blum

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