Grammys: Tony Bennett’s 1995 MTV Unplugged win revisited


The 1995 Grammys were one of the most exciting the awards show ever. Most relevant for this year was the last year without Nomination Review Committees. And not by chance, it was the year Tony bennett won Album of the Year for its “MTV Unplugged”. Bennett’s victory is worth pondering, especially since he’s once again nominated for Album of the Year for “Love for Sale” with Lady Gaga.

Bennett has always been on the Grammys radar. His first victories came at the 5th Grammy Awards, where he took home record of the year and best solo male vocal performance for “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”. Bennett was a constant nominee for a few years after that, but dropped the price radar for 25 years until in 1991 his album “Astoria: Portrait Of The Artist” became his first nomination since 1966.

Bennett spent the intervening years struggling to make mainstream pop music amid the rock boom, dealing with financial problems, and struggling with addiction. But like the fighter he always was, Bennett bounced back into the 1980s and put his life and career back on track with a new era of music and new music listeners eager to hear again. After a career comeback where he focused his old-fashioned style on a new audience, Bennett recorded what would become his second Grammy winner: “MTV Unplugged” from 1994.

“MTV Unplugged” had a few advantages. First of all, the songs were known classics, including Bennett’s ROTY winner, as well as others like “Body and Soul” (which would win Bennett a Grammy years later with Amy winehouse for the best pop performance in duo / group) and “Autumn leaves”. Bennett’s Grammy competition for album of the year was also not the strongest.

SealThe eponymous 1994 album was a success, but it was only the following Grammy season he would become a monster because of the single “Kiss From A Rose,” which won the year’s recording and song the following year. Eric clapton‘S “From a Cradle” was acclaimed, but it was a blues cover album that had more limited appeal in the recording academy. Bonnie raitt‘Longing in Their Hearts’ was acclaimed by the Grammys, winning Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Engineering Album. But she had just won AOTY five years earlier for “Nick of Time,” and “Longing” wasn’t such a big hit. The final nominees, The three tenors (Plácido Domingo, Jose carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti), suffered from the fact that opera was not exactly in fashion with young voters.

Bennett’s victory was possible because of his sympathy across the generations, which seemed out of the ordinary to some. In a mixed review of the TV special, Variety wrote that “it’s hard to fathom exactly what made Tony Bennett love on the Gen X set, and this hour-long showcase of the crooner’s best works shouldn’t be. that exacerbate scratching. ” Bennett’s success with a younger audience was odd, but he was there. And that probably pushed him over the edge, on top of how Bennett had always been loved and how compelling his comeback tale was. Voting for the recording “MTV Unplugged” also meant, indirectly, voting for the hit MTV series.

The victory of “MTV Unplugged” and the nomination of the Three Tenors was seen as the tipping point which led to the addition of a Nominating Committee for the General Domain. Many found the lineup to be unrepresentative of the year, with the Los Angeles Times writing, “In a year in which ‘The Three Tenors in Concert 1994” – a major spectacle work but of minor substance – and a pedestrian collection by Tony Bennett were nominated for widely acclaimed works by Hole, Neil young, REM, and Nine inch nails, leaders publicly call for electoral system reforms.

Many believed the committees would filter out the top voters and present newer candidates to the public. But these secret and anonymous committees have also proved controversial and they were dissolved this year after the whole fiasco of The Weeknd. Now Bennett finds himself nominated again for Album of the Year for “Love For Sale,” which is billed as Bennett’s latest album as he continues his long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. It would be great to see Bennett be the last winner of the pre-committee and the first post-committee winner, am I right?

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