Every year, the Grammy nominations are good for a laugh, or at least a head scratch. Jethro Tull for best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance in 1988? Steely Dan for Album of the Year in 2000? (And those two were winners!)
So while it was somewhat surprising to see such under-the-radar groups as Soundtrack of Our Lives and Clinic nominated this year, perhaps no pick raised as many eyebrows as Wichita Falls, Texas, punkers Bowling for Soup. The little-known band is nominated in the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal category for the pop-punk ditty "Girl All the Bad Guys Want." (Click here for the list of nominees and for photos of this year's Grammy nominees and performers.)
Dark horses don't get any darker than these guys, who are up against such music heavyweights as Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews, No Doubt and 'NSYNC.
"We have no chance. They're gonna kill us," admitted guitarist Chris Burney (a.k.a. Christopher Van Malmsteen), 33. "It's pretty funny, because we're just a bunch of fat guys from Texas."
Burney was at home Tuesday when he received the call from his manager about the nomination. He said he checked the Grammy Web site to see for himself, and even then it was hard to believe.
The guitarist said his band — known for its drunken antics, onstage nudity, childish sense of humor and, yes, corpulence — was shocked to be nominated in the pop category, but if ever there was a song of theirs that could be considered pop, it's the first single from their most recent album, Drunk Enough to Dance. Former Marvelous 3 leader Butch Walker (Lit, SR-71) produced the album and co-wrote the longing, power-pop single with singer Jaret Reddick (a.k.a. Jaret Von Erich).
Bowling for Soup came together in 1994, taking their name from a Steve Martin comedy routine about a game show called "Bowling for Sh--." However, fearing a serious beat-down if their grannies saw a flyer with that profane name on it, the group swapped out a few letters.
In 1998 Bowling for Soup released their debut EP, Tell Me When to Whoa!, and four years later the band — which also includes bassist Erik Chandler (a.k.a. Erik Rodham Clinton) and drummer Gary Wiseman (a.k.a. Wiseass) — followed it up with the LP Rock on Honorable Ones !!!, featuring memorable tracks like "Ass Man," "Ack!!!" and "Corndog."
The group landed a deal in 2000 with Jive, who released Let's Do It for Johnny! and last year's follow-up, Drunk Enough to Dance, which found the band sticking to Green Day-inspired pop-punk while injecting a bit of surf rock on songs like "Surf Colorado."
So how did they sneak into the Grammy pool?
A former label exec who's been on Grammy nominating committees said nominations like Bowling for Soup's are rare, but not unheard of. "My guess is one psychopath on the committee is hung up on this band and thinks they're the greatest thing in world and lobbied and lobbied and drove everyone crazy playing their music," said the insider, who requested anonymity. "Just to shut that person up, they probably said, 'We'll vote for the band!' "
A spokesperson for the Recording Academy disputed the notion that lobbying goes on but said the nature of the process ensures that even bands who don't have multiplatinum careers are considered. "Labels and members can submit any recordings they feel are worthy," said Ron Roecker, director of communications for the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Roecker noted that some years up to 15,000 entries are considered. Those recordings then go through a nonjudgmental screening committee that ensures they've been submitted in the correct categories. The first round of ballots are then sent out to the academy's 13,000 voting members with all eligible recordings listed for consideration. The winners are then decided based on the voting in a second round of balloting.
Though Roecker said he didn't know the exact scenario behind Bowling for Soup's nomination, he pointed out that the Grammys "are the only music awards not based on sales or popularity, but a peer-to-peer vote. Plus, with a name like that, they were likely to catch people's attention."
If the Grammys were based on sales and popularity, Bowling for Soup wouldn't stand a chance. Since its August release, Drunk Enough to Dance has sold roughly 48,000 copies, according to SoundScan. And according to Radio & Records rock editor Cyndee Maxwell, out of the 600 stations the magazine tracks, only 63 have played "Girls All the Bad Guys Want." "That's absolutely not a lot of play," she said.
Bowling for Soup have postponed a handful of overseas shows to attend the February 23 Grammys ceremony in New York. For Burney, not only will it be his first trip to the awards, it'll be the first time he's even watched the event.
The boys plan to be respectful and dress up in the powder blue tuxedos they sported for the cover of Drunk Enough to Dance. "We'll be dressed to kill," Burney said. "But, you know, 'Dumb and Dumber' dressed to kill."
For more Grammy news, check out the MTV News Grammy Archive.