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Category: Grammys

Grammy flashback: When Elvis was the devil

ElvisLooking back through music history upon the 34th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, it's shocking to recall that "The King" never reigned at music's highest honors: the Grammys.

Elvis never won best record, song or album of the year. Even more outrageous: The music artist widely viewed as the devil decades ago won just three Grammys, all in gospel categories for now largely forgotten religious recordings: "He Touched Me" (1972) and two versions of "How Great Thou Art" (1967, 1974).

Elvis was feared at the Grammys in the 1950s and 1960s because the Recording Academy represented the conservative music establishment, and Elvis, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and other hip-shakers represented the barbarians at the gate. Amazingly, Elvis did get nominated for best record twice. In 1959, "A Fool Such as I" lost to Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife," and, one year later, "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" lost to Percy Faith's "A Theme from 'A Summer Place.'"

RELATED:

Elvis Presley, who died 34 years ago today, spurs fresh tears

Photos: Elvis in Film

— Tom O'Neil

Photo: In 1967, Elvis won best sacred performance at the Grammys for his first recording of "How Great Thou Art." Photo credit: Sony BMG.


Flashback: Amy Winehouse at the 2008 Grammys [Video]

Amy winehouse

When comedian George Lopez announced Amy Winehouse's six Grammy nominations, he wisecracked, "Can somebody wake her up around 6 this afternoon and tell her?"

Back in 2008, the British rock star's titanic struggle against drugs was so painfully apparent that the question loomed: Will she attend the ceremony? Even if she could physically handle the transatlantic trip, there was the question of getting a visa. The U.S. government was hesitant to issue one to her because of her drug-plagued past.

CBS came up with a backup plan in case she couldn't travel. Winehouse and band were set up on a soundstage in London so she could be beamed into the ceremony live via satellite. In the end, her visa came through at the last minute, but it was too late for CBS to change production plans. Winehouse had to go on with the show, singing "You Know I'm No Good" and "Rehab," after 3 a.m. London time.

RELATED:

Amy Winehouse: An appreciation

Photos: Amy Winehouse | 1983-2011

Amy Winehouse, singer-songwriter, found dead

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Amy Winehouse performing in the wee hours, London time, for the 2008 Grammys. Credit: Getty Images


Amy Winehouse's shocking upsets made Grammy history [Video]

Amy Winehouse Back to Black newsAt the 2008 Grammys, Amy Winehouse pulled off an amazing and historic awards sweep.

She entered the contest with six nominations, but was expected to win just three. Most pundits predicted she'd bag best new artist in a close contest with Taylor Swift and that she'd fend off Christina Aguilera ("Candyman"), Fergie ("Big Girls Don't Cry") and Nelly Furtado ("Say It Right") to claim best female pop vocalist for "Rehab." In the race for best pop vocal album, odds were good that her "Back to Black" CD would squash Maroon 5's "It Won't Be Soon Before Long," but it wasn't a sure thing.

In the end, she won all three.

However, pundits weren't eager to stick out their necks for Winehouse in the top Grammy contests. In the past, those prestigious honors had never been won by music's trash divas like Madonna. Most Grammy gurus believed "Rehab" would lose best record and song to Rihanna's "Umbrella." They were wrong. Ultimately, the only contest Winehouse lost was for best album. "Back to Black" was expected to lose to Kanye West's "Graduation," but -- surprise -- both got trounced by Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters."

At the end of Grammy night, Winehouse tied Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones and Beyonce for the record of achieving the most wins by a female artist in one year. Beyonce would claim that crown solo in 2010 by winning six.

Below, Winehouse at the 2008 Grammys accepting the award for best record of the year from Tony Bennett and Natalie Cole via satellite from London.

RELATED:

Amy Winehouse: An appreciation

Photos: Amy Winehouse | 1983-2011

Amy Winehouse, singer-songwriter, found dead

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: The "Back to Black" CD cover. Credit: Republic Records


Grammy mystery: Can Beyonce finally win album of the year for '4'?

Beyonce's fourth studio album as a solo artist, appropriately titled "4," was released this week to generally strong reviews. According to Spin, "As a singer's showcase, '4' will probably end up bested this year only by Adele's '21.'" And the Los Angeles Times calls it "a surprising, confident turn."

But will it bring her more Grammy glory? Yes, if history is any indication.

Beyonce 4Beyonce holds one Grammy record, and she's within striking distance of another. In 2010, the singer won six awards, more than any other female artist in a single year. Those prizes brought Beyonce's overall haul to 16, which places her third among women, trailing only Aretha Franklin, who has 18, and country veteran Alison Krauss, whose 26 career wins makes her Grammy's third-most-awarded artist overall.

Beyonce will probably overtake Franklin before long, but can she catch up to Krauss? Next year, the two could potentially go head to head in the album of the year race for the first time; Krauss also has a new album in the running, "Paper Airplane," recorded with her frequent collaborators, Union Station. It's a race in which Krauss has a decided edge. The country star has won the award twice already, first in 2002 as a contributor to the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack and then in 2009 for "Raising Sand," her collaboration with Robert Plant.

Beyonce received her first nomination for album of the year in 2010 for "I Am ... Sasha Fierce," but she lost to another country powerhouse, Taylor Swift ("Restless"). Beyonce has also never won record of the year, despite four nominations: "Halo" (2010), "Irreplaceable" (2008), and "Crazy in Love" (2004) as a solo artist, and for "Say My Name" (2001) with Destiny's Child.

Hip-hop and R&B artists have historically struggled in those two top races, which in recent years have been won by adult-contemporary and rock acts. (This year, for instance, record of the year went to Lady Antebellum's country crossover hit "Need You Now," while the album of the year was "The Suburbs" by indie rockers Arcade Fire.) To date, only two hip-hop albums have ever won: "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" by OutKast (2004) and "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" (1999).

Beyonce has won just one award in the general field: song of the year in 2010 for the ubiquitous "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." Will she finally win record and album of the year for "4," or continue to be relegated to the R&B categories?

RELATED:

Album review: Beyonce's "4"

Grammy overhaul: Bad news for Beyonce?

Beyonce's new song, "Girls (Who Run The World)," leaks online

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: The cover of "4." Credit: Sony

 


Why don't the Grammys ever win a top Emmy?

"Why don't the Grammys ever win a top Emmy?" a veteran Emmy watcher asked me recently. "Every year they win Emmys in the crafts categories for things like sound mixing and lighting direction, which proves that it's an award-worthy show, but the Grammys never win best variety special or special class — the top program award. That usually goes to the Tonys or the Oscars. The Grammys don't even get nominated. Why?"

GrammmyFascinating question! Certainly, the Grammys are a spectacular awards show, packed with high energy, technical dazzle (spinning lights and stages) and powerhouse performances by music legends at the top of their game. As a physical production, the Grammys are far more ambitious and complicated than the Oscars or Tonys and, as a show, it's usually much more exciting. So why is it the only major award show not nominated by the Emmys in the top race? Heck, even the Golden Globes telecast — which doesn't even have production numbers — was nominated in recent years (2007 — when it didn't even have a host).

I posted the question in our message boards to see what comments it would generate. I agree with the frequently expressed opinion that the Grammys are penalized for no longer being an award show. Years ago, there used to be more awards presented on the ceremony than music numbers staged. Then, about 10 years ago, there were roughly the same (about 16). Now there are fewer than a dozen awards bestowed. The Grammys exist chiefly as a music variety special — a superb one, mind you — but it's a cheat nowadays, and voters at the TV academy, who take their awards very seriously, refuse to give the show Emmys above the crafts races.

Below are some comments from our forums. See more here.

AwardsMadness101: It's my least favorite awards show of the year. I tune in to see the best of the best honored. Instead, I'm given a slew of performances with a few awards thrown in.

Turtle: it's likely the main reason the Grammys aren't considered is that it's basically a concert designed to hawk product with awards an afterthought.

rcamp: Look at the way the Grammys cut their award lists this year. Do you really think they care about winning awards?

Duncan: Instead of it being a Who's Who of the music industry to Emmy voters, it's more of a Who's That? to them. They couldn't remember half of the people who perform on that telecast. Believe it or not, when the Rap, Hip Hop & Pop artist perform most of the voters change the channel! The artist who are the most popular and have sold the most CDs that particular year are the ones who perform on the show. They usual appeal to the under 21 crowd. Most Emmy voters are over 30.

— Tom O'Neil

Photo: National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences


Poll: Is 'California King Bed' Rihanna's next big awards contender?

Loud rihanna

Buzz has been deafening ever since Rihanna performed "California King Bed" at the Academy of Country Music Awards with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles. While the song can be heard on her "Loud" CD, it still hasn't been released as a single. Anticipation is building fast. A few days ago, Rihanna assured eager fans via Twitter, "'CKB' will def be released in the US, but is that the one u guys want next?"

Of course, the response was a riotous, "Yes!"

But is that her next major awards contender from "Loud"? "Love the Way You Lie" was recently nominated for record of the year at the Grammys, where "Only Girl (in the World)" just won best dance recording.

RELATED

Poll: Best performance at the Academy of Country Music Awards?

— Tom O'Neil

Photo: "Loud" (Def Jam)


Grammy overhaul: Bad news for Beyonce?

The radical revamping of the Grammy Awards will reduce the number of categories from 109 at the last awards show to 78, and will achieve this in part by lumping various current categories into one. The move is getting mixed reactions. Below are some comments from our Grammy message boards. See more here.

Beyonce_knowles_grammy_news

 Atypical:  That's pretty awful to  combine the male/female performance categories into a solo category like that, and then lump instrumental solo into that too and cap it at five nominees. Booooo. My head's spinning from all of this ish.

Beastialg: The unification of the pop categories will cause a massive migration of submissions to other categories, especially the dance ones. Pity, since I think a lot of great "under the radar" artists like Robyn or true dance electronica artists will have a harder time getting there.

Troy: Wow. People like Beyonce, Kanye, Alicia, better thank their lucky stars they have accumulated the number of Grammy's they have. This change is definitely going to make it more competitive and prevent artists from racking up 15 Grammy's in a short amount of time.

mjsbigblog: OMG I would NOT want to be around Beyonce when she sees this.

Criss808: THE BIGGEST SHOCK IN MUSIC OF 2011

Guru: Less categories and less nominees does not guarantee quality. All bets are off. No one is a front-runner.

DoubleD: I absolutely love this change. If you want to win a Grammy, then you'll have to earn it. Grammy voters have been nominating way too much garbage lately. I mean look at the forgettable filler that clogged up the pop, rock and R&B fields these past few years. Unfortunately, this change may make it harder for under the radar acts to win Grammys especially in the R&B field.

Continue reading »

Poll: Will poor Britney Spears ever win a top Grammy?

Now that Britney Spears is topping the music charts with her seventh studio album, "Femme Fatale," she'll soon —uh-oh! —  be back in the Grammy derby again.

That's ominous news considering how Spears has fared at music's top awards show in the past. While she's won other major kudos (10 Billboard Awards, four MTV Music Video Awards), Britney's only nabbed one Grammy, and she's never been nominated in the top three categories: best album, record or song of the year. When she was nommed for Grammy's fourth-highest honor -– best new artist -– in 2000, the result was catastrophic: She lost to rival diva Christina Aguilera.

Britney Spears Femme Fatale music news

Of eight past nominations, Britney's only Grammy victory was for "Toxic" as best dance recording of 2005. Does that mean that she's a real femme fatale as far as the top Grammys are concerned?

The 29-year-old's turbulent personal life appears to have quieted down. But just this week she stumbled into another PR bobble when Enrique Iglesias tried to ditch their joint concert plans. And now she's been slapped with a sizable lawsuit related to her perfume line.

Of course, these PR and legal kerfuffles aren't entirely Britney's fault. But it's possible Grammy voters will pick up on this news and decide they still don't want to welcome her into their inner circle. Don't forget -- showbiz trophies are first and foremost about hugs. Winners are typically those the awarding bodies feel good about embracing.

Don't agree? Here are two shining examples: Eminem and Kanye West. Controversy follows them both as regularly as night follows day. West, especially, is prone to massive hissy fits when he feels disrespected. Grammy voters are happy to nominate both artists in genre categories and even for such marquee awards as album, record and song of the year. But despite critical and commercial praise, they never win those top trophies.

Dance-pop music is sizzling hot once again thanks to Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Katy Perry and Pink. And Spears has the technical wizardy of hitmaker Max Martin, among others, contributing to "Femme Fatale." It would seem she is a cinch for Grammy gongs in the dance and pop categories.

But will her reputation for unpredictability -- deserved or not -- continue to strike a sour note with music insiders?

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Jive Records


Arcade Fire and Justin Bieber victorious at Juno Awards, Drake gets skunked

Arcade Fire Juno Awards Justin Bieber newsFollowing up on its shocking victory for best album at the Grammy Awards, the Montreal-based group Arcade Fire won four trophies at Canada's Juno Awards on Sunday. The indie rockers won best album, best alternative album, best group and best songwriting for "The Suburbs."

The Junos' biggest loser was Drake, who entered the contest with the most nominations (six) but failed to claim a single trophy while hosting the ceremony held at the Air Canada Center in Toronto. He lost the fan choice award to Justin Bieber, who wasn't present but sent a pre-recorded video message. Bieber also won best pop album.

Most emotional moment of the night was the appearance of Canadian music icon Neil Young, who made his first appearance ever at the Junos, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary. He beat both Justin Bieber and Drake for the artist of the year award, plus took home the prize for best adult alternative album and an honorary laurel for his humanitarian work.

"Wavin' Flag" by Young Artists for Haiti won best single. Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" won best international album over Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now," Eminem's "Recovery," Ke$ha's "Animal" and Taylor Swift's "Speak Now." See a full list of winners and nominees.

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Arcade Fire accepts the award for best songwriting. Credit: Juno Awards


Music goddess Adele beats the Grammy curse [Video]

Adele newsWhen Adele won the Grammy for best new artist two years ago it looked like she might become another victim of the curse that seems to be dogging one of the Recording Academy's four highest awards.

Adele -– let's be honest -– isn't glamorous. She is chunky and, back then, she was relatively obscure compared with some of the other nominees in that Grammy race, such as the Jonas Brothers and Lady Antebellum. It wouldn't have been too surprising if Adele ended up following other past best new artist winners to quick oblivion, much like Paula Cole, Marc Cohn, A Taste of Honey and Starland Vocal Band.

But Adele has recently experienced an impressive career jump. The L.A. Times says that her sophomore album "21" (which refers to her age when she recorded it) is "marvelous," adding, "Overall, '21' shows that Adele, now 22, is towering in the same landscape where some of her contemporaries, beehived or not, have lost all their bearings."

The CD is now topping the sales charts both in the U.S. and in her native Britain, a rare accomplishment matched only by a few artists in the past, including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Eminem, Coldplay, Susan Boyle and Madonna.

Adele's performance of "Someone Like You" at the Brit Awards last month, below, triggered a sales stampede that drove her CD to the top of the British charts. On this continent, her sales were boosted by TV appearances on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "Jimmy Kimmel Live," CBS' "Early Show" and "Chelsea Lately."

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Adele's "21" CD cover. Credit: Columbia Records



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