Alicia Keys almost left Los Angeles’ Staples Center Wednesday night (February 27) with a perfect Grammy record, if U2 didn’t have to “Walk On” and break her winning ways.
Winning five of the six categories in which she was nominated, the R&B singer/pianist was the artist with most wins at the 44th annual Grammy Awards, including two of the big four awards: Song of the Year for “Fallin’ ” and Best New Artist. Keys also took home trophies for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song and Best R&B Album, for Songs in A Minor.
(Click for photos from the show.)
“I was excited — very, very thrilled,” Keys said in the press room following the ceremony. “You have to be involved as an artist. Never let people tell you what to do, or you will never do anything.”
U2, who stood to take home the lion’s share of statuettes with a pack-leading eight nominations, made good in four categories: Record of the Year for “Walk On,” Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for “Elevation,” and Best Rock Album for All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Their four wins brings the Irish quartet’s all-time Grammy total to 14, two of which came last year when they took both Song of the Year and Record of the Year honors for “Beautiful Day,” from the same album.
Music from the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” was actually bestowed the most awards — six in all — including the official soundtrack’s wins for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album and Album of the Year, besting LPs by India.Arie (Acoustic Soul), Bob Dylan (Love and Theft), Outkast (Stankonia) and U2 (All That You Can’t Leave Behind). The soundtrack’s producer, T-Bone Burnett, won for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, while Down From the Mountain, an LP of live soundtrack songs and tunes inspired by the film, won for Best Traditional Folk Album.
“We are very, very surprised,” said one of the album’s featured artists, Emmylou Harris, perhaps echoing the sentiment of those taken aback by a bluegrass and roots music album cleaning up the way it did. “If the soundtrack moves people the way it moves me, then I’m very happy.”
India.Arie, who was second among those with the most nominations, came away wanting, coming up empty in her seven chances, including all big-four categories.
After performing, the sultry songbirds of “Lady Marmalade” — Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Lil’ Kim — took home the award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals, trumping the efforts of Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera, Brian McKnight and Justin Timberlake, Shaggy and RikRok, and Tony Bennett and Billy Joel. With the evening’s second award presentation, the ladies set a “first you perform, then you win” trend that continued with Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” (Best Rock Song), the Soggy Bottom Boys’ “O Brother” contribution “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” (Best Country Collaboration With Vocals), Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’ ” and Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” (Best Rap Album).
Nelly Furtado made good on one of her four nominations, winning Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “I’m Like a Bird.”
In the midst of the night’s well-scheduled flow of award presentations and performers (see “Mary J. Fights The Drama, Outkast Fight For Attention On Grammy Stage” ), Michael Greene, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Grammys, addressed the issue of illegal file-sharing and CD-copying in his annual speech, condemning those who engaged in the unlawful practice and equated them to thieving from the artists’ pockets directly.
“Many of the nominees here tonight, especially the new, less established artists, are in immediate danger of being marginalized out of our business,” he said. “Ripping [CDs] is stealing their livelihood one digital file at a time, leaving their musical dream haplessly smeared in this worldwide Web of theft and indifference.”
Eighty-nine of the evening’s 101 total Grammy Awards were doled out before the Grammys’ televised broadcast began, and the early winners there often foretell the night’s overall outcome, as it did last year when Eminem and Dr. Dre each went into the ceremony with two pre-telecast Grammys and Slim Shady eventually walked away with three total. This year was no different: the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack had three wins before the ceremony started.
Although losing to Keys in the Best New Artist category, Linkin Park didn’t walk away empty-handed. The group that churned out the best-selling album of last year won for Best Hard Rock Performance with “Crawling” from Hybrid Theory.
“The Wizard,” by Best Metal Performance nominee Black Sabbath, couldn’t put a jinx on Tool, whose “Schism” took the title over Slayer, Slipknot and System of a Down.
“Thanks to my parents for putting up with me, and I want to thank Satan,” Tool drummer Danny Carey joked from the podium, before bassist Justin Chancellor directed his appreciation even further back: “I want to thank my dad for doing my mom.”
Usher won his first Grammy for “U Remind Me” from his latest album, 8701, in the Best R&B Male Vocal Performance.
Atlanta rap duo Outkast, with five total nominations, started off on the right foot, scoring a Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group win for “Ms. Jackson,” from Stankonia, which later won Best Rap Album honors. Missy Elliott took home the Best Rap Solo Performance for last year’s ubiquitous “Get Ur Freak On,” while Eve and Gwen Stefani were the two that tangled best in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category, with “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.”
Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” won for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal, giving the group its second Grammy, following last year’s win in the same category for “Say My Name.”
In a category dominated by veteran artists, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, sensitive singer/songwriter James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” won over pop tracks by Michael Jackson, Elton John, Brian McKnight and newbie Craig David. The Best New Artist of 1985, Sade, brought her winning ways to the new millennium by picking up her third all-time Grammy, landing Best Pop Vocal Album honors for Lovers Rock, beating LPs by ’NSYNC, Janet Jackson, Elton John and Best New Artist nominee Nelly Furtado.
For Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance, Lucinda Williams’ “Get Right With God” beat out songs by Tori Amos, Melissa Etheridge, PJ Harvey and Stevie Nicks in the female category; while Lenny Kravitz’s “Dig In” won out over nuggets by Ryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp in the male category. Guitar virtuoso Jeff Beck won for Best Rock Instrumental (“Dirty Mind”), knocking out Godsmack’s only shot at a Grammy this year.
Although Radiohead’s Amnesiac could not take the title of Best Alternative Music Album from the grasp of Coldplay’s Parachutes, the Oxford, England, quintet didn’t leave the Staples Center without a statue, as it picked one up for Best Recording Package for the well-designed Amnesiac.
Other notable pre-telecast winners include Janet Jackson, who bested Daft Punk, Depeche Mode, Gloria Estefan and Lionel Richie for Best Dance Recording (“All for You”); Fatboy Slim, who, thanks to the lovable Christopher Walken, takes another honor for the “Weapon of Choice” video; Deep Dish, whose reworking of Dido’s “Thank You” helped him take Remixer of the Year; They Might Be Giants, whose “Boss of Me” from “Malcolm in the Middle” was deemed Best Song for TV or a Movie Soundtrack; Ozomatli, for Latin Rock Alternative Album (Embrace the Chaos); and Enya, who won Best New Age Album for her multiplatinum A Day Without Rain.
Jon Stewart hosted the proceedings for the second year in a row with his self-deprecating humor. In his opening monologue that spoofed the extra security precautions instituted at this year’s ceremony, he was hassled by a guard while attempting to pass through an onstage metal detector before two burly men in black suits strip-searched him down to his socks and boxers. “Welcome to the Grammys,” he said, speaking into the clip-on mic he now held in his hand. After the “Lady Marmalade” performance, he joked that he lost his virginity to that song — not Labelle’s 1974 hit, mind you, but last year’s cover version, unfortunately.
For a list of Grammy winners, click here.
For more Grammy news, check out the MTV News Grammy Archive .