Riff Rant: Right of Trent Reznor to Rail Against Grammys?


trent-reznor-grammys-smallAs a faraway Grammy Awards viewer on Sunday night, I couldn’t help but feel cheated by the way the show cut away early from the star-studded headlining performance of Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, and Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac). Needless to say, I wasn’t nearly as pissed off about the circumstance as one Trent Reznor.

“Music’s biggest night… to be disrespected. A heartfelt FUCK YOU guys,” read a Tweet issued by the Nine Inch Nails frontman not too long after a performance packed with high-quality rock n’ roll goodness, along with flight and accommodation advertisements; rolling credits; and a preview for a forthcoming episode of Criminal Minds. Apart from the rock n’ roll, Reznor obviously didn’t anticipate the other elements interrupting his performance.

Now, it’s not as if focus shifted from the band immediately. They had already blasted through the first half of the medley with the NIN track “Copy Of A,” and had just ventured into QOTSA’s “My God is the Sun.” However, that doesn’t excuse the show’s executives from pulling down the broadcast curtain early.

Yes, the show was running late, but don’t they all? That’s the risk you run by having an exceptionally large amount of performances crammed into a three and a half hour timeslot, lengthy commercial breaks, as well as speeches that rarely finish before the ‘get off the stage’ music moves in.

Also, since when are headlining performances – especially ones as newsworthy as this one – made casualties of in order to avoid running an extra two to three minutes longer? This wouldn’t have happened had the script been flipped with Beyonce and Jay-Z closing the show instead of opening it.

Furthermore, why continue to alienate the rock n’ roll viewership and performers who are already abundantly aware that the treatment and placement of rock n’ roll at the Grammys has become more and more disgustingly bleak as the years have gone on? Most of those trophies are given off-air, and chances are you’ll see no more than three rock-like performances on the live telecast.

Lastly, knowing what I know of this headlining collective, this performance was for the fans, not Taylor Swift and the rest of the front-of-house attendees. How can the Grammys possibly not realize this and understand the importance of the audience engagement?

With all of that out there, of course Reznor was right to give the Grammys the single-finger salute on a highly-publicized scale. As a long-time celebrated musician and someone that cares about his craft, his fans, and giving them fresh experiences, he understood that something needed to be said. Who knows if it’ll make a difference moving forward, but I’d like to think that the Tweet was just a tip of the backlash offered to the Grammy folk by the performers affected.

What’s more sad about this is that Reznor, who has at long last chosen to play a little bit of ball with this faction of the music industry, will likely never return to the Grammys.

As a fan I find that tremendously disappointing, yet doubt that the Grammys will lose any sleep over the matter.

­-Adam Grant