No offense ladies, but the 41st Annual Grammy Awards telecast
played like a slumber party chaperoned by parents in the next room.
The potential was there for a raucous night, but most of the girls
never got up the nerve to get out of line.
As expected, the awards ceremony was dominated by women (Sheryl,
Shania, Celine, etc.), a welcome change indeed. And naturally
everyone went home happy, as Grammy followed its tradition and
passed out awards evenly to all. But from the moment Madonna, the
forty-year-old single mother, opened the show with a musical ode to
her daughter Lourdes, to three hours later when Lauryn Hill, the
twenty-three-year-old single mother, closed the show with a musical
ode to her son Zion, the show seemed to be dressed up as a lullaby.
(Where were the Beastie Boys and Jay-Z when you needed them?) Even
the token boy band Aerosmith got in touch with its feminine side
when it performed “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing,” written by Diane
Warren, pop’s reigning balladeer.
Early on, Aerosmith began the show’s longest-running theme: string
sections. In fact orchestras, which were trotted out five different
times, outnumbered actual drum-and-guitar bands for the night. Of
course, Celine performed with a cast of hundreds, as did her
Titanic partner, composer James Horner, as well as Luciano
Pavarotti. But so did Alanis Morissette.
For a year dominated by hip-hop there was precious little to
jump-start the night. Grammy kept Hill’s performance in the can for
too long, and when she finally appeared she opted for the wrong
song. A sly, hot rendition of “Doo Wop (That Thing)” was what the
night really needed to end on an up note.
The show did come with some welcome jolts, though. Sheryl Crow
rocked out in her bad-ass bell bottoms. While Shania Twain went
S&M (Nashville style, which means knee-high boots), complete
with her band of boy toys, outfitted in leather pants and goggles.
(Two keyboard players is acceptable, but was that steel guitar ever
plugged in?) Twain was reportedly disappointed backstage for
failing to win Best Country Album, which the Dixie Chicks snagged.
But what does Twain expect when she spends her time seducing the
Las Vegas crowd at the expense of her Iowa base?
And then there was former Menudo star Ricky Martin who was the
night’s bad boy, like a hungry freshman let loose in a sorority
house. Oozing charisma, the Puerto Rican star’s electric,
circus-like production may go down in Grammy history as a defining,
Star Is Born moment.
Other highs and lows:
Classiest Acceptance Speech: Sheryl Crow, who paid
public tribute to her longtime professional home, A&M Records,
which was recently dismantled as part of the Polygram/Universal
Music merger. (Fear not for Crow, she is being absorbed within
Most Out-of-Place Performance: Bono’s awkward live
appearance came during Kirk Franklin’s gospel shout-out “Lean On
Me.” (Small consolation: the diminutive Bono actually towered over
Fashion Victim: Dixie Chicks. We love you girls,
but that Nashville version of East Village chic (i.e. torn
clothing) doesn’t quite cut it.
Best Label After-Party: Sony’s, no doubt, where
the brass were toasting company winners Celine Dion, Lauryn Hill
and Ricky Martin.
Strangest Win of the Night: John “Mutt” Lange, for
writing his wife Shania Twain’s country song hit, “You’re Still the
One.” What’s so strange about that? Lange, who during the Eighties
was best known for producing Def Leppard and other hollow heavy
metal acts, won the Best Country Song award over a fellow nominee
by the name of Bob Dylan. His song “To Make Me Feel My Love,” was
nominated because Garth Brooks covered it last year.
Artists Most in Need of a Grammy Sales Bump:
Alanis. She performed “Uninvited.” Unfortunately, that song appears
on the soundtrack to City of Angels, not the singer’s new
album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, which is
currently entrenched at No. 53 on the Billboard chart.