With the 2012 Grammy Awards upon us and everyone already thrilled for the big Beach Boys / Foster The People / Maroon 5 reunion (finally!), let’s take a second to remind ourselves of something we all already know and complain about every year: The Grammys are, without a doubt, the weirdest and most arbitrary awards show in the entire entertainment world.
To re-prove this time-tested theory, we’ve scoured Grammy’s checkered past and compiled some of its most bizarre winners in a desperate search of some meaning for this odd gramophonic statue. From the awesomely-random to the just flat-out terrible, here’s a list of 13 People You Can’t Believe Won A Grammy:
1. Zach Braff
Without rehashing the internet’s eminent disdain for Garden State, let’s just take a moment to acknowledge that an actual physical golden gramophone was given to Zach Braff for being the “compilation producer” of the third-date-mix that was the Garden State Soundtrack. Nothing against the actual music, but if burning Nick Drake onto cds to impress people is award-worthy, most of us earned that Lifetime Achievement Award by sophomore year of college.
2. Mikhail Gorbachev
The former Head of the Soviet Union won a “Best Spoken Word Album for Children” Grammy for his contribution to a 2004 recording of Peter And The Wolf, though it might’ve been a make-up win after his failure to be recognized for having inspired a decade of award-worthy hilarity from Yakov Smirnoff.
3. The Baha Men
Winners of the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording, and a Grammy every year since for “Most Random Song Inexplicably Still Played At Sporting Events Free Of Irony” (a co-award shared with “Cotton-Eye Joe”).
4. Martin Scorsese
After spending a decade-plus as the go-to “Great Artist Who’s Never Won An Oscar” reference, Scorsese actually snagged a Grammy Award for “Best Long Form Music Video” in 2005 for directing American Masters: No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, one year before his vindicating Oscar win for The Departed. Finally came around on that Scorsese fellow, eh, entertainment world?
5. Patrick Stewart
More in the “Awesomely Unexpected” Category than the “Wait, Really?” Category for this list, the incomparable Patrick Stewart won a “Best Spoken Word Album for Children” Grammy in 1996 for his vocal contributions to a different recording of Peter And The Wolf, though no one knows for sure if it was actually him or just Data imitating his voice.
6. Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix won a Grammy in the catchy-titled “Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media” category in 2006 as the lead vocalist on the “Walk The Line” soundtrack, and I don’t think it’s unfair in any way to completely blame the Grammys for everything he did afterwards. Nice one, Grammys!
7. Bill Clinton
Few Grammy wins truly encompassed the super-necessary spirit of the Awards more than Bill Clinton winning a Grammy for My Life: The Audiobook. And for good measure, Clinton won another one in ’04 for ALSO contributing to the Gorbachev Peter & The Wolf recording (Fun Fact: Half of all Grammys ever given out have been Peter And The Wolf related), so he’s a two-time Grammy Award winner. When’s he eligible for the Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame?
Shaggy summed up in a Tweet by my colleague @haulihan: “Wanted to congratulate everyone on helping Shaggy have several hit songs a few years back. Who knew we could commit to a joke so hard?”
Elmo won the Best Musical Album for Children Grammy in 1999, 2000, and 2002, on an impressive Meryl Streep-esque run, only superior, because Streep never released anything called Elmopalooza.
10. Todd MacFarlane
Spawn creator and toy magnate Todd MacFarlane took the 2000 Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video for directing Korn’s “Freak on a Leash”, and that is officially the Year-2000-est Sentence Ever Written.
11. Barack Obama
In what was surely the most thrilling moment of his career, Obama won the ’06 Best Spoken Word Album Grammy for his Dreams From My Father audio reading. Nothing for The Audio-dacity Of Hope?
12. Tia Carrere
Wayne Campbell’s love interest won Grammys in 2009 and 2011 for Best Hawaiian Album, though sadly, her work on the jungle-tastic music video for “Ain’t Got No Reason For Reaction” went unrecognized by the voters.
13. Orson Welles
Orson Welles won the Best Spoken Word Album Grammy in both 1979 and 1982, and this, folks, is indisputably what he will be remembered for forever.
So that’s it. ENJOY THE GRAMMYS, EVERYONE!!! Can Betty White beat Val Kilmer for the Best Spoken Word Album this year?? Guess we’ll have to tune in and see! Also, what is anything?