U2 Dismantle the Grammys
Thu, 09 Feb 2006 00:43:23
Television history happened Wednesday night, as millions of TV viewers channel surfing during commercial breaks on Lost were puzzled to see a big, glitzy variety show where they were expecting to see the Grammys.
What the hell happened to the Grammys? What has long been derided as a sterile, fusty awards show jammed with too many long-winded acceptance speeches and half-assed performances finally blossomed, in its 48th year, into a full-blown mega-spectacle that rivaled the likes of the Oscars, the Tonys and the MTV Video Awards, minus any annoying, poorly chosen host like, say, Jimmy Fallon.
With all the attention on the show-stopping performances, it was almost easy to lose track of the awards, especially since only 11 were awarded on the air out of the more than 100 handed out. When all the dust, glitter and stage smoke had settled, U2 stood as the reigning champs of this year's Grammys. The humble lads from Ireland ran the table, winning all five awards for which they were nominated: Album of the Year, Rock Album of the Year, Song of the Year ("Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own"), Best Rock Song ("City of Blinding Lights"), and a little category the Recording Academy likes to call (deep breath) Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal, again for "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own."
"If you think this is going to go to our head," Bono quipped upon accepting another trophy, "it's too late."
The evening's other big winners included Mariah Carey, John Legend, and Kanye West, all of whom took home three awards, including Best New Artist for Legend, Best Rap Album for West and Best R&B Album for Carey. And you'd never know it from watching the show, but Alison Krauss & Union Station also won three awards, all in country categories, even though they're technically a bluegrass act (and in case you're wondering, yes there is a Best Bluegrass Album award, but Kraus and her band weren't nominated in that category).
As hangers-on from last year's Grammys (Billie Joe Armstrong even noted in his acceptance speech that American Idiot came out "something like two years ago"), Green Day were only able to score one trophy, but it was a big one: Record of the Year, for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." Among the nominees they beat out was the evening's most snubbed artist, Gwen Stefani, who had five nominations but didn't take home a single trophy. She does, however, get our vote for the evening's Most Visibly Pregnant Artist.
You can read about all the other award winners, performers, red carpet moments and all that crap on some other website. We prefer to simply sum up the rest of the evening with a quick rundown of our Top Ten Favorite Grammy Moments for 2006:
1. The cartoon band Gorillaz looking visibly bored -- and these are cartoons, mind you -- as they accompanied Madonna on her song "Hung Up." We couldn't agree more, fellas.
2. Kelly Clarkson apologizing for "crying again on national television" as she accepted her first of two Grammys, for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. That, folks, was her only allusion to American Idol during both her acceptance speeches.
3. Kanye West insisting "I didn't expect this" as he went up to accept the award for Best Rap Album, then whipping out a big piece of paper with "Thank You List" printed on the back of it in big block letters.
4. Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers introducing Kelly Clarkson, looking like the maitre d' loaned him a blazer to throw over his ratty green jersey and jeans. No wonder Big Ben sucked so bad in the Super Bowl; he was obviously more interested in preparing for his Letterman and Grammy appearances this week than he was in prepping for the game.
5. Speaking of the Super Bowl, after watching the Rolling Stones' anemic halftime performance, how great was it to see Sir Paul get up there and flat-out wail his way through a blistering version of "Helter Skelter"? The man is ageless.
6. The term "ageless," alas, cannot be applied to Sly Stone, although we must give him props for managing to upstage the ridiculously unfunky clusterf*ck that was his so-called tribute, merely by shambling out on the stage in badass shades, a silver coat, and a creepily snow-white mohawk. Did anyone else notice the clear plastic tube sticking out of one of his microphones? It was probably for a vocoder, but we couldn't help wondering if maybe it was to give him some oxygen between gasping out verses of "I Want to Take You Higher."
7. Kanye West and Jamie Foxx bringing down the house by reinventing "Gold Digger" as some Broadway freakout version of the film Drumline. Kanye still can't rap on the beat, but with theatrics that genius, who cares? He stole the show.
8. Presumably that was meant to be a moment of silence for Richard Pryor at the end of Queen Latifah's simple but moving tribute, but instead it read like an awkward pause, as if some producer was about to start rolling a montage, then went, "Oh f*ck it, all of Richard's best moments can't be shown on TV."
9. Most Random Quote: During his uncharacteristically humble acceptance speech for the Album of the Year award, Bono pointed at Paul McCartney and said, "To be in the company of Paul McCartney, who discovered the country that we're all living in, is a true honor indeed." Huh?
10. The Allen Toussaint/Dr. John-led New Orleans tribute at the show's end was nice, but even cooler was when Bruce Springsteen and Sam Moore of the Memphis soul duo Sam & Dave came out and led another clusterf*ck ensemble through a surprisingly kick-ass version of the late Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour." "This is for Wicked Pickett," Moore exclaimed. It was a great end to the show, even if CBS cut it off to flash their sponsors across the screen, plus offer a long-winded explanation of how the Grammys are chosen, complete with a plug for the awards' official vote-counters, Deloitte & Touche. No self-respecting award show's final word should be "Touche."
The ARTISTdirect Staff
the wee hours of 02.09.06