"I don't know what this means. I don't think it means anything"

-- Eddie Vedder, accepting a Grammy for Pearl Jam's 'Spin the Black Circle,' 1996

I tend to take the Pearl Jam Attitude toward the Grammys, but it's still fun to sit back and watch people who know nothing about metal try and hand out awards for "Best Performance" every year. It seems more a popularity contest than meaningful accolades for truly state-of-the-art performance. Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest have won awards recently, but are they really offering new material that matches the vitality of their earlier output, or that of hungrier, in-their-prime bands like Opeth or Meshuggah? With all that in mind, below is a recap of each year's nominees, who won, which nominee should have won, and who might have taken home the award in that unattainable utopia, the proverbial "perfect world."

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[Notes: The year noted is the year the award is given, for material that was officially released the previous year. Thus, Metallica's 1991 album wins the award given in 1992. Also, the first time the National Acadamy of Recordings Arts and Sciences (NARAS), which selects the nominees, gave awards for heavy music, 1989, the category was combined as Best Hard Rock/ Metal Performance. From 1990 to 2011, the category was split in two: Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. As of 2012 they are combined again. I have taken the Metal road for the commentary below, and you can bet that's the road on the left hand side of the path.]