Are the Grammys out of touch? Legendary producer Daniel Lanois agrees with Kanye West

grammys-Daniel-LanoisImage Credit: Rick Diamond/WireImage.comKanye West touched off a new round of controversy yesterday when he said that artists like Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks, Ray Charles, and Herbie Hancock didn’t deserve their Grammy Awards for Album of the Year. But did he have a point? Famed producer Daniel Lanois — who’s helmed several AOTY Grammy winners, including Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind (1998 ceremony) and U2’s The Joshua Tree (1988) and How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2005) — thinks he might.

Lanois says that by recognizing legacy artists, the Grammys sometimes miss out on the best music of the moment. “In defense of the Grammy people, they are probably a little bit embarrassed about the fact that they never gave Grammys to the folks that deserved it back in the day,” Lanois tells the Music Mix. “To think that Bob Dylan had never gotten a Grammy Award [for Album of the Year]! I mean, we made a great record, and I think it deserved to win that year. But should Steely Dan be the album of the year from a few years ago [2001]? Kanye might have had a good point on that year. Maybe [they should say], ‘We made a mistake and we didn’t notice so-and-so back then.’ A lot of cool records don’t get noticed at the moment, and then a few years go by, and it’s like, ‘Oh, these people were breaking some ground.’…Just tell it like it is. ‘We overlooked this artist for many years. They’re doing good work now. They’re getting the Overlooked for Many Years award.’ Something like that.”

What do you think about Lanois’ remarks in support of Kanye? Are they right about this one? Speak up in the comments.

(Follow The Music Mix on Twitter:@EWMusicMix.)

More on the Music Mix:
Kanye West says Taylor Swift, Ray Charles didn’t deserve Grammys
Taylor Swift wins Album of the Year: Did the Grammys get it right?
Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind: Ken Tucker’s A+ review

Comments (108 total) Add your comment
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  • Philip John

    I completely disagree about the Dixie Chicks. Kanye just face it, the girls are better than you are; the best even. My opinion is that, I don’t like you Kanye, not even your name.

    • Billie Jean

      Well said. Kanye is just jealous because he didn’t win. Also, he only wants his black friends to win. If a country star wins, he thinks it is “wrong”. Kanye’s opinion is about as credible as that of a 4 year old retard. The guys is just a moron. It’s just an award, GET OVER IT.

      • Lo

        “Also, he only wants his black friends to win.”


        One of the albums he mentioned that was overlooked was Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds.

      • @Lo

        Justin Timberlake is basically an honorary black guy.

      • ?????

        Dixie Chicks deserved the win, Taylor didn’t. There is some great country music. Taylor just isn’t great country music.

      • u


        An “honorary black guy” according to whom? The last I checked, he was turned against by the black community for shirking responsibility during the 2004 Superbowl controversy with Janet Jackson. And they still haven’t gotten over it.

      • blanche

        That Dixie Chicks record was amazing, and Kanye is merely a legend in his own mind. The true mark of a talented artist is their ability to perform live…and for that, Kanye uses Auto-tune.

      • Seashore

        @u, I agree with you. I already noticed the type of person he was when he dogged Brit, but the Janet issue was the last straw. Unfortunatley most Blacks (artists) only see dollar signs and will jump on anything. No matter how unoriginal and fake it is. And the rest just feel like because someone outside of the community “copies” them that it validates them in some sort of way. IDK….Kanye shrug.

      • 1234

        Stfu u sound really stupid. Kanye is right. And his work will forever be better than Taylor’s

      • al

        I have no idea what u r saying kanye west yes is a prick…but he makes valid points…this guy knows music he is arguably one of the best hip hop producers and rappers ever….and btw LO … just because Justin Timberlake makes r n b type music dosen’t mean he is trying to be black

      • wakeforce

        WTF? All you people know what’s in the minds of black folks, but any suggestion that a white person MIGHT have a racist thought in the mind gets pooh-poohed. Lucky for us we have you enlightened white folks to tell us how we feel. I bet none of you spend any time with us, but you know f**king everything. What a bunch of hypocrites!

      • me

        You guys do realize Kanye was not nominated the years the Dixie Chicks or Taylor won right? Franky, I thing the Dixie Chicks did deserve record of the year, but album should have gone to Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium. Or to be honest, John Mayer’s Continuum was even more deserving. Out of last years, personally, I think Dave Matthews should have taken it, Big Whiskey was a great album that followed a few years of hum drum ones. Herbie I think actually did deserve his. After it won and I picked up my jaw, I actually listened to it and it is a wonderful album. I will say, rewarding controversy, or legacy is nothing new with any award show.

      • cobras

        if the dixie chicks made such a brilliant album how half the white people in the country dont even know they exist but regardless of what genre you might like everybody knows who kanye is i didnt even know taylor swift existed until he cut her off so she can thank him for her career boost every country artist sings the same songs over and over again from reba to rascal flats same chords on the guitar same beats on the drum but to create something that you probably will never hear again that deserves the award not the last 4 albums from a yr that released almost a thousand

    • Michael

      The Dixie Chicks’ Taking the Long Way is a brilliant album. Kanye West is a(n albeit talented) douchecanoe.

    • Sara

      Yep. The rest of whatever statement he was trying to make got lost on me after he said the Dixie Chicks didn’t deserve their Grammy. Taking the Long Way is an amazing album and spoke volumes about what the country was going through at the time. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. West would NEVER believe that a country album should win the Grammy…and especially one put out by a female.

      • Anna

        I think your veiled accusation of sexism is completely baseless.

      • me

        haha, that was veiled? Sara seemed pretty obvious to me.

    • FromChicago

      I agree with this and Kanye’s opinio…I only watch the show for the entertainment and that’s what it has become–a variety show. And having a Grammy, with its zillions of categories, is useless to an artists. The Grammys have so many sub-categories it’s hard to keep up. And they rarely recognize the artists who are cutting edge or have the best production values. So just watch the show and enjoy.

  • Sharlin

    He is totally right. I have been thinking this for years.

  • The Jackal

    Best example: Jethro Tull, 1989 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance

    • LOL

      Tull melts your face.

      • B

        Yeah especially those earth shattering flute solos!

  • Lisa

    Awards are subjective. If you think about Academy Award history, you’ll realize all award shows have good picks & bad ones, but hindsight is always 20/20. In 1998, Shakespeare in Love won out over Saving Private Ryan. In 1993, Dances With Wolves beat out Good Fellas. Lots of examples of actors/actresses who were never nominated or never won. Pick an award and you’ll find winners who shouldn’t have won.

    • Zach

      The Grammys are the most random and least predictable of all, though.

    • JackieB

      I love Shakespeare in Love. Great movie.

    • Shannon

      Cough. Cher. Cough.

      • Ben

        You are ignorant. Cher was incredible in Moonstruck and absolutely deserved to win the Oscar. And by the way: the ‘cough’ thing? Really lame.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    Hindsight is 20/20.

  • TorontoTom

    Hate to admit it but Kanye’s right. Most people in the business won’t speak out because, let’s face it – they might be looking for potential votes next year or the year after. The media treats awards shows as SERIOUS BUSINESS but, sadly, the voters are usually just participating in a popularity contest. That said, don’t look for Kanye to pick up AOTY anytime soon…

    • SXiPPY

      I’m really inclined to agree with Kanye about most of his statement. Dixie Chicks did indeed deserve to win, but the others…not really. I totally don’t think Taylor Swift should have, and it does often appear as though they give Album of the Year to older artists who they feel the need to shine a light back on. So much good music gets snubbed in that category, like Lanois said “Steely Dan”? I remember that year and I thought to myself when they won ” I haven’t heard any music played by them on any station, classic rock or adult contemporary; nothing. If that album they won for was so good, why then didn’t any radio station play their stuff? Fleetwood Mac’s last album (2003’s “Say You Will”) got airply, thus if albums that win such a meritorious acknowledgement are so good; shouldn’t we have heard of them in some capacity? And to base Taylor Swift’s win on a few semi-decent songs that didn’t really have much depth to them (whereas the Dixie Chicks’ songs on that album had political clout); Kanye’s right in saying that she didn’t deserve it.

      • me

        I’m with you to an extent. I agree that that many times, the award is to honor older contenders or controversy. I have to disagree with you that a condition of being a good album is lots of radio play. Radio friendly does not equal great. Their are a number of artists out there (and I admit, mostly older ones, who can’t pay to get their songs on radio because they arent “hip” enough)

  • Kole

    We all know the the only person Kanye believes deserves to win is himself.

  • Dave

    Kanye was only right in some respects. But he’s completely wrong when he basically said that they should award albums that sell 10 million copies. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: popularity does not equate to quality. And I should also point out the hypocrisy of what Kanye said. If he wants the most popular albums to win awards, then shouldn’t he have been glad about Taylor Swift winning? Didn’t she have one of the best selling albums?

    • Luke

      Kanye was saying that high-selling albums are discriminated against because they’re considered “popular” and not “good.”

      • Ben

        Well, if that’s the case, then how did Taylor Swift’s album win? If you recall, it was the highest-selling album of the year, so there goes Kanye’s theory.

  • S.O.

    Like I’ve posted before……..

    Taylor Swift’s last album winning Album of the Year pretty much sealed the deal for the Grammy’s being completely irrelevant. Here’s a scorecard to back up my point:

    Taylor Swift: 1 for 1
    Radiohead: 0 for 3

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Radiohead sucks

      • S.O.

        & yet Radiohead is well received by critics, fans, & other artists/bands as one of the best bands out there. & has been for nearly 20 years.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        They still suck.

      • Pangin the Fleen

        Radiohead are awesome

      • The Obvious

        No, Rusty. You do.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Gee good comeback there The Obvious.

      • u

        I’m no Radiohead fan, I find them overrated… but they do not suck. Far from it. You must have them confused with Nickelback, Rusty.

    • Celimene

      I’m still slightly bitter that Kid A lost to Steely Dan in 2001. WTF was that? I mean, even Beck and Eminem were better choices. And dare I say this, I agree with Kanye. In 2008 it should have been his or Amy Winehouse’s.

      • Dave

        It should have been Amy Winehouse’s.

  • Dave

    And another thing: we didn’t need Kanye or Daniel Lanois to point out that the Grammys are at times out of touch or irrelevant. Anyone with any credible opinions about music should have been able to see that for some time now.

  • Meghan

    I disagree about the Dixie Chicks, also. I think that they deserved to win that year. Otherwise, I think he’s right. I was just looking at the past winners of Album Of The Year on Wikipedia and I found many albums that should have won but didn’t or curiously missing nominations. Seriously, Pink Floyd’s The Wall album lost to Christopher Cross (!) in 1980, and Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged In New York wasn’t even nominated for Album Of The Year in 1995.

  • Jeremy DC

    Another example is Green Day losing to a subpar U2 album. I’m not a huge Green Day fan or anything but American Idiot was great. It goes both ways too though. Springsteen lost to freaking Norah Jones and the only explanation I can think for that is the grammys didn’t want to give it to a legendary rock artist.

  • Brianna

    Kanye was right. Taylor Swift is the worst vocalist in any genre of music, and the most-overrated, over-promoted of her generation. She writes bubble gum tween pop about boys, end of story. How she won last year remains a mystery to me, but I think some major payola changed hands. She took away from the integrity and prestige of the Grammys, in my mind. If you cannot even sing on key live, you should not even be a singer, much less a Grammy winner.

    • Dave

      The integrity and prestige of the Grammys were gone long before Taylor Swift won.

    • Liz

      I agree with you it was sad to watch her sing then walk away w so many award that was a slap in the face to the other artist

      • Peggy

        I agree that Taylor Swift is totally overrated. I can’t say too much about the rest, but Taylor is not a good singer and I don’t understand what her appeal is.

  • Jane

    They have too many categories. If the Oscars had “Best Comedy” and “Best Action” they’d be irrelevant too. The Grammys need to reduce the awards down so that getting one means more, plus they’ll have to think a lot harder who they’ll award the Grammy to. But I doubt any of that will happen. So someone should set up an alternative award. Similar to the Shortlist Prize or the Mercury Prize.

  • hager

    Has there ever been a performer who’s more obsessed with awards than Kayne West?

    • u

      Nope. That guys is so grossly insecure about himself that he needs to feel validated with a trophy telling him he is the best at something. In spite of having won over a dozen Grammys, he’s only bitter about the ones he DIDN’T win. Sad, really.

    • u

      Sorry, I meant that guy.

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