One of rock music’s most polarizing group of Midwesterners is headed to the Grammy Awards.
Greta Van Fleet, the brotherly Michigan blues rock four-piece channeling a sound uncannily similar to Led Zeppelin, scooped four Grammy Award nominations Friday morning, one for each major rock category – Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance – and a Best New Artist nod. Will the group Slash wishes “didn’t sound so much like Led Zeppelin” bring home a gold gramophone? It’s quite possible.
Greta Van Fleet successfully split critics, musicians and rock purists this year for its post-Millennial embrace of gettin’ the Led out. The band put blues guitar back on the radio, scoring three No. 1 songs on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart, while simultaneously earning burning criticism for channeling “stiff, hackneyed, overly precious retro-fetishism.” The debut album, released in October and thus ineligible for this year’s awards, debuted at No. 3 on the all- genre Billboard 200 chart despite earning a lukewarm 53/100 score on review curation site Metacritic.
Positive or not, that buzz could translate into a big night for the outfit. Glossing over worthy indie candidates (Courtney Barnett, anyone? Hop Along?), the Grammys lean into radio rock comfort with little exception this year (for exception, see: The punk mayhem of FEVER 333). The band’s easiest win could come from Best Rock Album (nominated for the eight-song release From The Fires) where a metal band – formidable Swedish outfit Ghost, which won Best Metal Performance in 2016 – arguably offers the best competition.
None of the others – Fall Out Boy, Alice in Chains and Weezer – had particularly interesting releases and don’t really fit what Grammy voters have embraced for the last decade. With the exception of last year’s War on Drugs victory, voters lean toward legacy and household names in this category. The last 10 years featured wins from Foo Fighters (x2), Muse (x2) Green Day and, yes, Led Zeppelin in 2012. Greta Van Fleet’s pull isn’t that of Dave Grohl, but the band fits an musical comfort zone that voters may gravitate toward.
Tougher competition comes in the Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance field, though. In best song, there’s the Jack Antonoff-produced St. Vincent track “Masseduction” and Twenty One Pilots’ “Jumpsuit” each respectively embraced critically and commercially during the eligibility period.
In Best Rock Performance, Greta Van Fleet could fall to Chris Cornell’s “When Bad Does Good,” a posthumous track released in September. Grammy voters have shown a penchant for posthumously awarding Best Rock Performance, with David Bowie winning in 2017 and Leonard Cohen in 2018. The band also faces rock darling Arctic Monkeys in the category, which earned the nod for its piano and jazz-influenced intergalactic single “Four out of Five.”
Still, it’s probably not be the last fans see of Greta Van Fleet on a Grammy nomination ballot. Anthem of the Peaceful Army remains eligible for next year.
The 61st Grammy Awards ceremony airs Feb. 10, 2019 (8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST) on CBS.