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Testament’s Alex Skolnick Defends Metallica/Gaga Grammy Performance

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Alex Skolnick to the rescue: the Testament guitarist has stepped in as the voice of reason surrounding the very controversial Grammy collaboration between Metallica and Lady Gaga (watch it here).

That Skolnick would be measured and articulate is unsurprising if you’ve ever met the guy — he’s smart, understated and introspective — but his commentary here is particularly astute. The tl;dr version: it was a great idea in theory that fell a bit short due to technical mishaps that were no one on stage’s fault, and both parties deserve kudos for taking a risk even if the visual imagery was a bit much.

Here’s his take in full via Facebook:

“My thoughts on #MetalliGaga (for those asking):

“Great idea in theory. Would have/should have gone down in history as a home run for the ages. Unfortunately to be forever overshadowed by mic problems (can’t fault anyone performing) and failed intro (please make sure all presenters do a quick run thru before going on. I did when introducing DillingerEP at Golden Gods. Haven’t we learned from from John “Adele Dazeem” Travolta??).

“Saw a few comments accusing Lady G of “leaving James hanging,” and saying “she didn’t help” while others claim she “came to his rescue” and “saved the day.”

“Both are wrong: She (and the guys) are all wearing in-ear monitors which – as anyone with experience using them can tell you – provide a custom mix separate from the audience. You don’t hear anything else. The first thing you assume if you don’t hear a vocal or other part that’s supposed to be there is that it’s just an issue with the monitors relating to your individual in-ear mix, which does happen sometimes (who’d ever guess – in the heat of performing no less- that Hetfield’s mic isn’t even on in the house? At the Grammys?!)

“In other words, she had no idea and just did her thing. So all in all, for the naysayers, I think you have to look at the following:

“A) What other mainstream pop superstar would even dare get up there with Metallica (or any other metal band)?

“B) Who else could pull off performing with Tony Bennett one moment and Metallica the next, with equal love and appreciation for both?

“C) Sure, it was maybe a bit over-the-top for those more interested in Metallica than her. But then again, she is Gaga, after all (over-the-top is her middle name, or at least should be).

“D) Yes, she does lot of theatrics but she’s also someone that can kill with just her voice and a piano (which I hope she’ll do more of one day).

“E) Given her and Lars’ interest in art and doing the unexpected in music, it absolutely makes sense they’d collaborate.

“F) Bottom line, did she sound good on the tune if you turn away from the imagery and just listen? Heck yes! Great song choice, too.

“The only thing I’d change (other than the mishaps, which were accidental) is this:

“Why was there a freakin’ Zumba class going on up there? Whose idea was that? Get real fans up there rocking out for effect (as Metallica does at some shows), but a bunch of obvious pop dancers/models in metal-like wardrobe gave it a very “hot topic” vibe.

“Otherwise, it’s all 👍 from here and I truly hope they’ll give it some tweaks, maybe add a tune or two and try again!

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