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At the Grammys: Drama onstage and off*



For an awards ceremony that is supposed to honor music, the 51st annual Grammy Awards were slim on televised awards, thick on performances and heavy in drama.

Before the night’s festivities came to a close, the mediasphere was buzzing over reports that the Los Angeles Police Department booked Chris Brown on suspicion of making felony criminal threats involving his girlfriend, singer Rihanna. Both Brown, 19, and Rihanna, 20, canceled their scheduled performances.

Only 10 awards were sprinkled into the three-hour telecast, but more than 20 performances were crammed in. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Lil’ Wayne and Coldplay were the big winners of the night.

Plant and Krauss received five trophies — album of the year, record of the year, pop collaboration with vocals, country collaboration with vocals, and contemporary folk/Americana album  — for their collaboration “Raising Sand.” Many Grammy prognosticators considered them to be the favorites to win.

“I’d like to say I’m bewildered,” Plant said after their acceptance of album of the year. “In the old days we would have called this selling out, but I think it’s a good way to spend a Sunday.”


Coldplay took home a total of three awards. After a medley performance, which included an appearance by rapper Jay-Z and a snippet of Coldplay’s No. 1 single “Viva la Vida,” Chris Martin found himself in a sweat. It wasn’t clear if the perspiration was a byproduct of the intense stage lights that shined overhead or his relief that he wouldn’t be served a subpoena at any moment. Joe Satriani has accused the band of plagiarism after claiming their recent single “Viva La Vida” was based on his song “If I Could Fly.”

But the plagiarism claim didn’t seem to be a factor for voters; the group, dressed in Sgt. Pepper-inspired outfits, walked away with a Grammy for song of the year, and a reunited Blink-182 presented them an award for best rock album. Before the show got underway, Coldplay won in the best pop performance by a duo or group with vocals category.

Jennifer_hudson_4 They weren’t the only ones starting the year on a bright note. Jennifer Hudson can now add Grammy Award winner to her repertoire that already includes a Golden Globe and Academy Award. She took home the award in the best R&B album category for her debut self-titled album.

After the slaying of her mother, brother and nephew in October, the former "Dreamgirl" and "American Idol" contestant was triumphant and raised the statue in the air.

“I first would like to thank God,” she added. “I’d like to thank those who have got me through — my family in heaven and those who got me through today.”

Other winners at the half-point included Adele for best new artist and Sugarland’s “Stay” for best country performance by a duo or group with vocals. But they might have been hard to miss, sandwiched in between all those performances.

U2 kicked off the show with a performance of “Get on Your Boots,” the lead single off its upcoming album “No Line on the Horizon.” Al Green, Justin Timberlake and Boyz II Men looked to be gearing up to launch a new boy band with their performance of Green’s soulful hit “Let’s Stay Together.” Katy Perry looked as if she had ransacked the produce section of a grocery store, appearing onstage in an outfit bedazzled in fruit shapes as she performed “I Kissed a Girl.” Tween favorites Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift -- who know a thing or two about dating a Jonas brother -- shared the stage for a performance of “Fifteen” off Swift’s album.

The star-studded concert-disguised-as-an-award-show didn’t end there.

Kanye West pulled double duty, appearing onstage in a shimmering silver suit jacket alongside Estelle, who also donned a silver outfit, to perform the chart-topping single “American Boy.” Before he could catch his breath, he joined rappers T.I., Lil’ Wayne and Jay-Z -- or as Queen Latifah called them, the Rap Pack -- as they performed with mother-to-be M.I.A. Paul McCartney commissioned the help of Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl as he wiped the dust off the Beatles’ 1964 hit “I Saw Her Standing There.”

In a haze yet? Wait, there’s more.

Gwyneth Paltrow, looking like an award in her own right in a gleaming gold mini-tube dress, introduced the “utterly brilliant” Radiohead, who performed “15 Step” off their seventh album, “In Rainbows,” with the help of the USC Trojan Marching Band. Soul brothers Jamie Foxx, Ne-Yo, Smokey Robinson and Abdul “Duke” Fakir appeared onstage for a Four Tops tribute, which included “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” and “I Can’t Help Myself.” The Motown group received a lifetime achievement award.

Oh, and a few more trophies were awarded.

John Mayer walked away with a Grammy for best male pop vocal. But the outspoken rocker was less than controversial with his acceptance speech, simply saying: “It’s always an honor to be a musician.... I love making music and hope you all do too. It’s the best thing in the world.”

Before announcing the winner for best rap album, will.i.am took a moment to congratulate President Barack Obama. But T-Pain -- without the assistance of AutoTune -- and the Black Eyed Peas member quickly got back on track and announced eight-time Grammy nominee Lil’ Wayne as the winner, his fourth award of the night.

But the rapper who can manage to fill a three-minute song with flurry of words had surprisingly little to say in his acceptance speech.

“I just want to say thank God, thank New Orleans, and thank these people you see right here, and thank you.”

A short and simple end to an otherwise long ceremony.

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Top: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times. Middle: Coldplay arrives at the Grammys, by Chris Pizzello/Associated Press. Bottom: Jennifer Hudson sings, by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Comments () | Archives (6)

One thing you forgot to mention was the collapse of a photographer from agency WireImage. He was taken to Cedar's.

Is it me or are The Grammy's getting more schizophrenic every year?? This is the weirdest mix of music. I think The Grammy's weakness is that they have a major identity crisis. What???? Alison Kraus/Robert Plant won Album of the Year??? Are you kidding me?? Coldplay was robbed. Why do I watch this show???

Is this the L.A Times' music blog or Us Weekly? Who cares what Gwyenth was wearing.

Why did the show insult BB King and Buddy Guy by not giving them an intro as the worlds greatest guitar players and Blues musicians that they are. BB King is Music Royalty and deserves better from the Grammy producers who do not know anything or care about his contribution to the art of music around the world. Since there was no mention of Mr King or Buddy being on the show at all. Don't you think they could of at least gave them the proper introduction before the lil 2 minute performance they were given. These two men came all the way from Orlando, Florida after there show and in the middle of there tour. Get on flights back to there tour in West Palm Beach, Florida to continue the tour. And the Grammy people did not even have the brains to even give them an intro. That made me feel angry and sad at the same time. And because BB King is such an honorable and kind gentleman he will never complain or mention anything about what was done to him on that show. God Bless BB King and Buddy Guy too. Tony Coleman

Where was Beyonce??

I have to say that I was heartened by the variety of music honored by the Grammy Association and those in the music industry who voted. There's already a People's Choice Award for the fans to be part of, and the Kid's Choice Awards for the under-18 set. This was for the music pros to acknowledge superior efforts by their peers.

Since the press is pretty much reduced to sharing gossip when it comes to Entertainment news, I'm not surprised by all the fol-de-rol over clothing and off-screen shenanigans. If it weren't for the gossip, most of the readers here wouldn't bother reading about the Grammys. It's called show business for a reason. It's all about the bottom line, which makes all major awards easier to predict (those who make more money get more awards).


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