Rock Music Finds Winning Tough at GRAMMYs

Paul McCartney performs during the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA

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At the end of Sunday night’s ceremony, host LL Cool J noted that “here at the Grammy Awards, we never stop rockin’.” But you could have fooled us.

With a paucity of major category nominations (only Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” for Record of the Year) rockers were consigned to the Rock category and ancillary areas such as Video and Production, this year. And within those, this year’s lesson was that you can’t beat the Beatles – or, in this case, a particular Beatle.

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Paul McCartney was, quietly, the big rock winner of the night, with two honors of his plus “wins” by association in four other categories. On top of the Beatles’ Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, “The Cute One”  -- who performed “Queenie Eye” from his “New” album with Ringo Starr during the ceremony -- shared Best Rock Song honors with Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear from the “Sound City – Real to Reel” soundtrack, which also won the Grammy for Best compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.  McCartney’s “Live Kisses,” meanwhile, was named Best Surround Sound Album and Best Rock Film, and “Wings Over America (Deluxe Edition)” won Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.

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Recording Academy voters, who confined rockers to their own field this year, spread the wealth in the genre’s other categories. Led Zeppelin scored its first-ever performing Grammy, Best Rock album for “Celebration Day” from its 2007 reunion concert at London’s O2 Arena (the group does hold a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award), besting collections of all new music by Black Sabbath, Kings of Leon, Queens of the Stone Age and Neil Young with Crazy Horse.  Black Sabbath did, however, net its second-ever Grammy, Best Metal Performance for “God Is Dead?,” the lead single from its 2013 album “13.”

Imagine Dragons was the standard-bearer for the contemporary wing of the Rock world, taking home Best Rock Performance honors for “Radioactive” – which it performed in a fierce mash-up with rapper Kendrick Lamar during the telecast.

The rock world did get its due on the performing side of the Grammys, at least. Besides McCartney and Starr (who also performed his hit “Photograph”) and “Imagine Dragons,” Metallica joined forces with classical pianist Lang Lang for a performance of “One” that will likely have orchestras around the world trying to book the latter with fire and lasers.

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong stayed in “Foreverly” mode, with Miranda Lambert standing in for Norah Jones to pay tribute to the late Phil Everly with “When Will I Be Loved,” and a combination of Nine inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age and Dave Grohl closed the broadcast, with Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham accenting NIN’s “Copy of A” with “Big Love”-style acoustic picking.

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