Greta Van Fleet’s Grammys win is a slap in the face for rock music

(L-R) Samuel Kiszka, Jake Kiszka,  Daniel Wagner and Kyle Hauck of the music band Greta Van Fleet during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles,...

The Grammys’ decision to award Greta Van Fleet with best rock album defies everything the genre stands for and reveals the organisation’s ongoing ignorance towards new sounds

It happens every time. The Grammys roll out the red carpet, announce their winners and people like me begin typing furiously into their keyboards. Ask any music fan and they’ll tell you the Grammys have got plenty wrong in the past few years. They awarded Taylor Swift over ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’, snubbed Frank Ocean and prioritised Adele over Beyoncé.

Ultimately, it’s easy to see why. The Grammys are a popularity contest, just like any other awards show. Disappointed fans can sit behind their computers and complain, but only the charts and good PR will determine who takes home the prize.

Up until the announcement of last night’s winners I was fairly content with accepting the Grammys for what it was. Then I watched with horror as Greta Van Fleet ascended the stage to receive the award for best rock album. 

Greta Van Fleet have launched their career on nothing more than fan boy devotion, bringing together guitar riffs, distortion pedals and vocal cries to create what could pass off as the worst cover band for a generation.

These days a lot of people love to declare that rock music is either ‘dying’, ‘dead’ or in some state of decomposition. It’s not. 2018 was a great year for new sounds across the genre, from Mitski to Jack White and Parquet Courts to Snail Mail. The problem is it only takes one band like Greta Van Fleet to overshadow this blaze of creativity and ambition.

From their music videos alone, replete with frontman Josh Kiszka prancing around in leather trousers, rock music certainly appears to be staring into a gaping chasm of endless repetition. It’s like someone’s walked into the Louvre, replaced the Mona Lisa and it as toilet paper.


For the record, the Grammys aren’t completely useless. They know how to recognise great pop music, as clearly evidenced by last night’s winners Kacey Musgraves, Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande. Yet the rock category still remains such an impasse for young talent and fresh ideas. At the end of the day, the people who realise that rock music is driven by attitude and innovation are never going to need the Grammys’ approval in order to make their mark.

Ultimately, you get the sense that Greta Van Fleet’s time in the spotlight is likely to be limited. Their music is just like bubble-gum – their fans will chew it up, spit it out, but no-one will go reaching into the bin to get it back. No-one.

For more awards related news check out our coverage of last night's BAFTAs

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