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Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys at the Grammy Awards
2/28/02, Photo © 2002


The Hammy Awards, by Jeanne Fury

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 44th Annual Grammy Awards. In honor of Bono, let's call them the Hammy Awards. No great controversy to look forward to, but the show managed to piss me off regardless.

Let's start with the all-important pre-show where I get to make fun of everyone. Celine Dion looked like a Tim Burton creation. The woman is freakishly thin and her intense expression really freaked me out. So glad she's returning after a two-year hiatus. Alicia Keys looked like a cross between Cleopatra and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Honey, burquas are like, so last month. Speaking of ethnic garb, what the hell was that Dixie Chick wearing, a Peruvian throw rug?

Opening the 44th Grammy Awards was seminal band U2 singing the song that eventually won Record of the Year, "Walk On," from their critically adored album All That You Can't Leave Behind. Speaking of U2 songs, let's discuss "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of" – not only winner of Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, but the title also perfectly describes how I feel about the band's (read: Bono's) current stronghold (I'm choking over here) on Billboard, radio, print, television, etc. Bono is growing to Starbucks-like proportions. The band also won Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for "Elevation." I want to vote Bono's ass off the island already but resistance is futile.

I really wished the freshly outed, butched-up Rosie O'Donnell would host, but instead we have the femme Jon Stewart, making his second consecutive appearance. Just as un-funny this year as he was last year, but at least he's dressing better.

  Lady Marmalade divas: Mya, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil' Kim
The "Lady Marmalade" Divas
Mya, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil' Kim
2/28/02, Photo © 2002

Train picked up the award for Best Rock Song for "Drops of Jupiter," possibly the most frequently played song on the radio this past year-eah-eah-eaah. You could tell this is a baby band. Lead singer Pat Monahan thanked his band members, fans, family, and his mom before getting choked up and leaving the stage. He'll be flipping us all off by next year.

Alicia Keys cleaned house, as predicted. She was five for six winning Best New Artist, Song of the Year ("Fallin'"), Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album (Songs in A Minor), and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. "Be who you are no matter what anybody says," Keys exclaimed. Her eye makeup was so complicated that it hid her eyeballs. India.Arie, however, went home empty handed after receiving seven nominations. Ouch. The other pop wonder, Nelly Furtado was one for four, winning Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "I'm Like a Bird." She had one of the more interesting acceptance speeches of the evening. "Whoooo coooool!.... Look we got a Grammy!"

Other winners in random categories that CBS doesn't think we viewers care about included Best Hard Rock Performance which went to Linkin' Park for "Crawling"; Best Rap Solo Performance went to Missy Misdemeanor Elliott for "Get Ur Freak On" (holla); Best Metal Performance went to Tool for "Schism" but should have gone to System of a Down for "Chop Suey!" but what the hell do I know; Best Male Rock Vocal Performance went to Lenny Kravitz for the unbearably mediocre "Dig In"; Best Dance Recording went to Janet Jackson for "All for You," and Jackson was also the winner of the Ab Muscles Most Resembling Those on My He-Man Figurines.

Al Green
Al Green performing at the Grammys
2/28/02, Photo © 2002

The performances this year were above average, which is always a good thing when an awards show runs as long as the Grammys. First and foremost, those "Lady Marmalade" divas, Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, and Pink, were smokin' but the real fun came when Missy Elliott stepped in to introduce Patti LaBelle. Ms. LaBelle had on more chiffon than the first three rows of audience members, but damn, she belted out those notes from the depths of God-only-knows-where. Not shocking that "Lady Marmalade" won for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals. The Latin Grammy Awards were originally scheduled for September 11, 2001, but the universe had other plans. To make up for the missing show, Destiny's Child (winner of Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for "Survivor") backed up Alejandro Sanz which made for a truly beautiful, rhythmic performance (and Sanz is really sexy). I had a soft spot for Tony Bennett and Billy Joel doing a duet of the latter's "New York State of Mind," and Alan Jackson's "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?" I really have nothing to say about Bob Dylan's performance besides "good guitars" because I didn't understand a damn word of it.

My three favorite performances of the evening ranged from bluegrass to R&B to rap. The folks that did the number from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack – Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Ralph Stanley, and the Soggy Bottom Boys (no, no, not Eminem and Elton) – were outstanding. I was overjoyed when "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrows" won for Best Country Collaboration – it's a category I usually pay no mind. Mary J. Blige ignited the Staples Center with "No More Drama." She was a revelation of raw emotion and righteousness, screaming out "I choose to win!" No Grammys this year, Mary J., but you get the MVP, no doubt. Outkast had the crowd in the palm of their stanky hands with "Ms. Jackson," thanks in part, I'm sure, to Big Boi's lovely pink sateen get-up and flowing white wig. Who was the little G getting down onstage with moves like Michael Jackson? Someone ask him if he wants to hang out with me.

The one person who always incites me to yell at the television is the President of the Academy, Michael Greene. Last year he gave us a shpeel on why it was okay for Eminem to be nominated and blah blah blah, hypocrisy, ignorance, etc. This year, Greene attacked Internet piracy and illegal downloading of music. He described file sharing as "oh-so-criminal" and called the situation a "life and death issue." He obviously didn't tune in for "No More Drama." Yes, stealing is bad, but look, you're addressing a world of music lovers, people who care about music enough to stay up and watch the Grammys and stick around to hear what you have to say. Don't get me started about the obscene price of CDs and concert tickets. And don't make me pull out statistics of music sales and show you that, economically speaking (because that's likely all you really care about), file sharing is far from the plague you make it out to be. As I'm yelling this at the television, Greene announces that three college students have been downloading music for two days straight as a "project." They've downloaded over 6,000 songs illegally. The camera then focused on the young students, and Greene encouraged the sheepish kids to say hi. Um, guys, good luck in school tomorrow. Your asses are on the schoolyard's most wanted list. And Mr. Greene, if you're really concerned about artists' welfare, go talk to Don Henley about the Recording Artists Coalition. I believe RAC is in direct opposition to the Recording Industry Association of America regarding what's considered fair and unfair for musicians and contracts.

End on a happy note, shall we? Album of the Year had a big surprise winner. It was NOT U2! Oh, you want to know who actually won? Producer T. Bone Burnette and the O Brother, Where Art Thou? team. The final performance was a rousing gospel routine featuring Brian McKnight, CeCe Wynans, and Al Green. Praise the Lord! We're done for another year.

Last Year's Awards Coverage:

February 2002

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