Tonight is the live telecast of the 56th Annual Grammy Awards and while I typically dislike 99.9% of the music represented at this awards show, I will still tune in. It’s the one time of the year where I find out “who the fuck are those people” who dominate the current pop charts. Here’s the thing: If you’re not Madonna/Lady Gaga (same thing) or now Katy Perry (who I still call Cat-y Perry) or Beyonce (Mrs. Carter if you’re nasty), then I probably don’t know the hell you are and if I do, I’m probably baffled as to why anyone would consider you relevant.
Anyhow, all this to say, I have always felt and will likely always feel like the Grammys are complete bullshit.
So, why bother writing about the Grammys? Well, first, there’s the whole Metallica thing — I was a fan well before the Black Album was even conceived and was around for their first Grammy performance, so I’m looking forward to seeing them. Second, and most importantly, I’m psyched that King Diamond – and by King Diamond I mean King himself, not his band — has been nominated this year (the band was nominated in 2008 for “Never Ending Hill,” but lost to Slayer). King’s nomination, in the Best Metal Performance category, comes from his guest appearance on Volbeat’s song “Room 24.”
King Diamond and Volbeat, the latter featuring former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano (who we interviewed here and here), are up against Anthrax for their cover of AC/DC’s “T.N.T.,” Black Sabbath’s new song “God Is Dead?,” Dream Theater’s “The Enemy Inside, and Killswitch Engage’s “In Due Time.” I’m betting the award will go to Black Sabbath, and while I’d be fine with any of these bands winning, I’m really pulling for King Diamond to take home the tiny gilded gramophone.
You see, I find it amusing that the openly Satanist singer has found his way onto a Grammy ballot, and just as I reveled in Metallica’s mind-fuck of a performance at the 1989 Grammys, I would love nothing more than for King to win this thing and for the general population to say, “Who?” Even though I think the awards are bullshit, I’m not so naive as to be oblivious to how helpful they are to the nominated artist. Having “Grammy-nominated” or “Grammy-winning” before your name is a huge deal in how the general population perceives you and just as winning an Oscar elevates an actor’s profile, demand, and salary, so does that Grammy distinction, especially for the nominated metal acts, who can get even a little spotlight shone on them by the acknowledgment. What would be even better would be if they actually showed the Best Metal Performance category in the live broadcast, but its relegated to the pre-telecast ceremony. Maybe in my lifetime metal will get the respect it deserves, but I won’t count on it.
Ok, so back to King Diamond: Let me explain something to you — I fucking love King Diamond. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen the Danish singer with his solo band and also fronting his original outfit Mercyful Fate. His first four solo albums — Fatal Portrait, Abigail, Them, Conspiracy — are some of the greatest metal albums ever made and I still listen to them regularly til this day, 30 years after their release. King, with his amazing vocal range and trademark falsetto, is also a master storyteller as well as a talented songwriter. With his grease-painted face (KISS’s Gene Simmons sued him over the use, not surprisingly) and upside-down crosses, you might get the impression that his records are subpar, but they’re totally not. They are brilliant.
In 2010, King faced death after suffering several heart attacks and undergoing triple-bypass surgery, which then required a lengthy, difficult, and painful rehabilitation process, and the 57-year-old singer has said that he basically was dead for a while, even likening his experience to that of Metallica’s “One.” But now he’s back making music and performing live. (In August 2014, King and his band will be headlining one day of the two-day Jalometalli metal festival in Northern Finland.)
In statement in reaction to the Grammy nomination, King was gracious as he alluded to his near-death experience:
“Thank you to everyone involved with voting. This is a great way to come back from the dead”¦literally.”
King’s presence dominates Volbeat’s “Room 24,” which is from Volbeat’s fifth studio album, Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies, and it’s storytelling straight out of a King Diamond concept album. Volbeat’s singer/guitarist Michael Poulson revealed the back story of of “Room 24” to Rock Revolt Magazine and it basically is King’s song “Visit From The Dead,” so it’s not surprising that King jumped right in, writing half the song, and then performing on it.
Below is the video for “Room 24” with lyrics via Vimeo, so check it out and enjoy. And good luck tonight at the Grammys to Volbeat and King Diamond. I’d love nothing more than to write a follow-up story about their win.
Video: Volbeat w/ King Diamond “Room 24”
The 56th Annual Grammy Awards will be broadcast live from at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 8pm EST/PST on CBS.