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The Grammys: Hey hey! My my! Rock and roll will never die; (it'll just get really, really old and rack up Grammy nominations)

Clapton WinwoodWhen you think of 2009 and "rock music," clearly your first thoughts are of Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood.

The Grammys have never been the playground of the young. Veterans and established stars have always received the most awards; even Best New Artist nominees have often been toiling for a decade before being acknowledged by the voters. (Ledisi and Los Lonely Boys serve as a couple of recent examples.)

It often seems like Grammy voters go out of their way to prove how out of touch they are. There's the famous example of introducing a hard rock/metal category in 1989 specifically to honor Metallica and make the Grammys seem hip ... and the award went to Jethro Tull. When Best Rock Album was introduced in 1995 who won? The Rolling Stones for "Voodoo Lounge." Y'know, their 19th best album or something. We mentioned the instance of Eric Clapton's acoustic version of "Layla" beating Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" in 1993.

After the jump Click Track examines whether this year's rock nominees continue the trend of age over everything.

Best Rock Solo Vocal Performance
"Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" - Bob Dylan
"Change In The Weather" - John Fogerty
"Dreamer" - Prince
"Working On A Dream" - Bruce Springsteen
"Fork in the Road" - Neil Young

What's that young whippersnapper Prince doing in there? Legends every single one of them, but this is a group of dudes -- all dudes, of course -- who peaked in 1966, 1969, 1984, 1975 and 1971, respectively. That's an average of 36 years past prime. Astounding.

Best Rock Album
Black Ice - AC/DC
Live from Madison Square Garden - Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood
21st Century Breakdown - Green Day
Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King - Dave Matthews Band
No Line on the Horizon - U2

Clapton is like catnip to Grammy voters. They can't quit him. The sorta-Blind Faith reunion live album received middling reviews and didn't do much on the charts, yet is one of the top five of the year. It's hard to argue against anything involving AC/DC, but they might've chosen to nominate one of the other dozen or so albums that sounds just like "Black Ice." Dave Matthews was classic rock even when he was brand new; U2 has been classic rock for at least a decade; Green Day finally gained Grammy acceptance by penning a pair of rock operas like their heroes, classic rockers the Who.

Best Rock Performance By a Duo/Group w/ Vocals
"Can't Find My Way Home" - Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood
"Life in Technicolor II" - Coldplay
"21 Guns" - Green Day
"Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon
"I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" - U2

Kings of Leon and Coldplay as young rock saviors. It could be worse, just imagine if ... um ... let us get back to you on that one. As for "Can't Find My Way Home," we've always preferred the Swans version.

Best Rock Song
"The Fixer" - Pearl Jam
"I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" - U2
"21 Guns" - Green Day
"Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon
"Working On A Dream" - Bruce Springsteen

The first three bands could have been featured on a DC101 Work Force Block in 1997. Modern by Grammy standards.

By David Malitz  |  January 27, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Grammys  | Tags: Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Green Day, Kings of Leon, Pearl Jam, Steve Winwood, U2  
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What's the difference between the last 2 categories?

Also, would the Who have made something with as many f and s bombs as the last two Green Day albums? Just saying, tis all.

Posted by: EricS2 | January 27, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I think the difference is that w/Vocals is different from Best Rock Instrumental -- with nominees such as Jeff Beck, Steve Vai and Booker T! As for GD, I think those last two albums are garbage. Well, "American Idiot" has its moments. But "Breakdown" has no moments. Except bad ones.

Posted by: DavidMalitz | January 27, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, so why are you covering this steaming pile of garbage?

Posted by: agl132 | January 27, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

To each their own. I happen to enjoy the last 2 GD albums quite a bit.*shrugs*

There really should be a rule against live albums making the "Best Album" cut.

Posted by: EricS2 | January 27, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Give Springsteen a bit more credit - he peaked in 1982 with Nebraska. I bet the title track would be a Grammy favorite if Clapton recorded it.

Posted by: Miles_Standish_Proud | January 27, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Mmm, I disagree strongly with that comment about live albums. Sometimes they are way, way better than any studio effort. And not just in a "greatest hits" kind of way.

Posted by: agl132 | January 27, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Great post Malitz. I far prefer laughing at the Grammys than simply cringing.

Posted by: josh18 | January 27, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

In the last category, the last Pearl Jam album (or about half of it, anyway) was the first thing I ever liked by them. Also, when I first heard it on DC 101 (no, I don't have satellite radio), the 101 guy was trashing it - "You may not like this, it's not like their old stuff" - a solid endorsement if ever I heard one.

This column would have been more interesting if you had suggested a few examples of who you would nominate in each category. Most new music I hear today, though, seems to be 1) kids spinning dials on synthesizers, 2) folkies who are even worse than the folkies of 10, 20, 30 years ago, and 3) minimally talented groups who are supposed to be that way because they say they are garage/punk/surf and claim truly great bands like the Ramones and the Cramps as influences.

If there is something out there really worth hearing, do tell. Maybe I missed it, but I don't even recall you all doing a column of the best shows of 2009. I wonder why...

Posted by: MyPostID27 | January 28, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Rather than reflecting an out of touch mentality among Grammy voters, perhaps it reflects an accurate perception that stars "past their prime" are still prducing the best rock and roll...since when was age a bar to great music...maybe some of the up and comers ought to step up their game some.

Posted by: sonofkenny1 | January 31, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

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