With the exception of those ”Lady Marmalade” hootchie mamas, the was a shockingly refined affair. Not only did substance (U2, Alicia Keys, the Soggy Bottom Boys) trump style (‘N Sync) in many categories, even bad boy Kid Rock was a perfect gentleman, paying an impromptu tribute to the late, great Waylon Jennings, who died Feb. 13. But such classy behavior doesn’t mean the evening lacked for drama. EW.com went behind the scenes for the low down on the music industry’s big night.
U2 had four opportunities to speechify during the evening, taking home awards for Record of the Year, Best Group Pop Performance, Best Group Rock Performance, and Best Rock Album. But that didn’t stop Bono, a recent Time magazine cover boy, from climbing onto his political soapbox once backstage. Criticizing the United States for its lack of involvement in the AIDS crisis in Africa, he suggested that the legacy of Sept. 11 might be helping Americans understand why their nation is loathed in other parts of the world.
”I hope the shock of 9-11 wasn’t just watching the Twin Towers turn to dust, but the aftershock of watching people jumping up and down in Pakistan. Very hard questions have to be asked,” he said, adding that the terrorist attacks have helped him rediscover his love for the idea, if not the reality, of America. Thankfully, it turns out Bono hasn’t entirely lost his sense of humor. When asked what he said to a clearly disappointed India.Arie backstage when U2 won the Record of the Year award, he deadpanned, ”I said ‘That frock is really, really working for you.”’ Good to know he’s keeping up with the national debt AND couture.
Though the long shadow of Sept. 11 may have accounted for a more somber mood at this year’s awards, Aaliyah’s absence also struck a melancholy note during the evening. A nominee for Best R&B Album and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, the late singer lost to Alicia Keys in both categories. ”I think Aaliyah deserved something,” admitted Missy Elliott. ”Even when she was still here I felt a lot of times she should have got something, but right now my main concern is that her music live on.” Before her death, Aaliyah and Elliott covered Lisa Stanfield’s 1990 hit ”All Around the World.” ”It’s eerie, because she made so many records before she passed, there’s a whole album’s worth of material out there,” said Elliott, who says the song will be released. ”It kicks me down, but I love her and know she’s looking over me.”