This year’s Grammy Awards may have felt a little predictable thanks to Santana’s sweep, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few surprises. Here’s EW Online’s roundup of the behind-the-scenes high jinks, on-screen missteps, and Rosie-induced weirdness at music’s biggest shindig.
THE HIGH POINTS
Go ahead and call it a fashion faux pas if you want, but the most talked about outfit of the evening was worn (just barely) by Jennifer Lopez. Doing little more than giggling and clutching Sean ”Puffy” Combs’ arm, Lopez demanded the attention of everyone with her cocktail-napkin excuse for a dress, if only out of curiosity to see if she might pop out of it. Better yet, no one even noticed that she lost Best Dance Record to Cher. As a bleary-eyed David Duchovny blathered backstage, ”Her ass is good! Her ass is good!” Need we say more?
Sting surprised even himself when he took home his 14th Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. ”The talent I was up against was tough,” he admitted backstage. ”I don’t think anyone thought I would win.” Sting may have caught a lucky break, since Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony likely canceled one another out in the voting. Now if Sting can just stop talking about tantric sex and convince his wife Trudie to leave the goofy headwrap at home, we might be able to take him seriously again.
The Roots took home the award for Best Rap Group, beating out the bigger selling acts Dr. Dre, Eminem, Janet Jackson, and Puff Daddy. The win was a rare example of the Grammys putting substance above style, and Roots member Leonard Hubbard brought up a valid point backstage when he said, ”It’s about time in contemporary black music someone gets an award who can actually play an instrument.”
Though we didn’t see her, her tattoos, or her hair extensions, Cher very quietly walked off with the first Grammy of her career for Best Dance Record. Even if ”Believe” wore a groove into your head that caused serious brain injury, you have to admit it’s not bad for a chick in her 50s.
One of the biggest winners was embattled Arista Records honcho Clive Davis. For months BMG has been pressuring the 64-year-old to step aside so that younger R&B producer L.A. Reid can fill his shoes. But Davis isn?t going down without a fight, and the Grammys provided the executive with a flashy forum to prove he’s still up to the job. Not only did Santana‘s ”Supernatural,” which Davis executive produced, walk off with eight awards, but almost every star who’d ever shaken hands with Davis paid their respects. Even TLC included him in their awards acceptance speech, a surprising move given that Reid once claimed Davis tried to block the band from releasing one of their biggest hits, ”Waterfalls.”
Erykah Badu, Ricky Martin, Santana, and TLC all turned in sharp performances, and kudos to Kid Rock and the Dixie Chicks for providing a glimmer of badly needed humor with their stage shows. Kid Rock warbled ”We’re An American Band” while go-go dancers in American-flag bikinis boogied in the background and the minuscule Joe C. shook his groove thing, while the Dixie Chicks screened their slightly creepy but amusing video for ”Goodbye Earl,” featuring star turns from Dennis Franz and Lauren Holly. Too bad they couldn’t give host Rosie O?Donnell a few pointers on picking up yuks.
THE LOW POINTS
Brace yourself, Christina — the backlash has begun. When Christina Aguilera was named Best New Artist, an audible groundswell of disbelief and disappointment was heard backstage. Aguilera didn’t help matters by trotting over to talk about how the award would now allow her to ”do things that require a little more depth than a catchy pop hook” and that she ”wanted to take it to the next level.”
Britney Spears didn’t fare much better than her old Mickey Mouse Club buddy. Her performance fell short of the mark, and not just because of the unflattering spandex jumpsuit she was squeezed into. Opening the segment with an image of herself as a little girl dreaming of someday going to the Grammys reminded us of her cheesy background (M-I-C, K-E-Y…) and how far she needs to go before she’s a mature artist. The Backstreet Boys met a similar fate. By teaming up with an experienced talent like Elton John, the winsome fivesome proved their sweet but somewhat bland style works best as backup, and their hackneyed tribute to former winners wasn’t much better. There’s something fundamentally wrong with these guys singing ”Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” period.
Shirley Manson may have looked like a naughty schoolgirl in her extreme minikilt, but that was no excuse for rolling her eyes and sneering when gentle giant Michael Clarke Duncan said ”Hi” to his mom before presenting an award. Looking like you’re in high school is no excuse for acting like it, too.
THE REALLY LOW POINT
The biggest loser of the evening was host Rosie O’Donnell. While she made a big fuss during her own daytime talk show about using ”gentle” humor to take the wind out of celebrities’ overinflated sails, her shtick was neither good-humored nor funny. Puff Daddy likes to Sing Sing? Doobie jokes? Please. Griping that she was out of the loop because she didn’t ”get” Kid Rock only served to show how inappropriate she was as a host, and taking down-and-dirty pot shots at Puffy (who, apparently sick of getting sniped at all evening, left halfway through the show) and Whitney Houston (who did herself no favors by bitching back in her award acceptance speech) didn’t help matters. And then there was her blatant sexual double standard: Attacking Jennifer Lopez for her cleavage-baring outfit but swooning over Ricky Martin’s ultra-snug leather pants. Wake up NARAS: Maybe the underemployed Jerry Seinfeld would be available for next year’s ceremony.
(Reporting by Tricia Johnson and Carrie Bell)