Clive Davis' annual Grammys-eve party has become so massive it's not even a party anymore, but more like the mini-Grammys. And with Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood and Smokey Robinson among the entertainment at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, on Saturday the two shows have a lot in common this year.
Justin Timberlake was also slated to perform, but he came down with the flu, according to Davis. Fortunately, his good friends the Black Eyed Peas were happy to fill in last minute, following sets from Aguilera and Akon. Surprisingly, the night's top performance came from Pink, who strolled onstage accompanied by an acoustic guitarist, sat on a stool and belted out "Me and Bobby McGee" like Janis Joplin were living inside her. ...
Of the party's many traditions, perhaps the most talked-about is who Clive accompanies down the red carpet. In fact, it's become such a focus (Jamie Foxx, Alicia Keys and Mario have made that prestigious walk in the past) that Davis did it twice Saturday, with one very new artist and one very veteran artist. The first was Jennifer Hudson, who beamed as her boss talked her up from TV crew to TV crew. "Tonight is her launching pad in music," Davis told MTV News. "She's clearly been launched in film in a royal way, but her soul is in music." The second star was Whitney Houston, for whom the carpet was cleared to make room for her enormous entourage. No interviews, but Davis later announced he was happy to "welcome her back to music."
Hudson, who headlined the show with her songs from "Dreamgirls" — after Davis played a montage of "divas" singing at past pre-Grammy parties (including Aretha, Alicia and Whitney) — returned to the carpet for a second time without Davis, but had no problem finding star power to mingle with, from Quincy Jones to Naomi Campbell. "This is my goal and it feels good to be here," Hudson said.
At times, the carpet felt more like an "American Idol" reunion than a bash thrown by a 74-year-old music mogul, as Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood all entered within minutes of each other. "I don't know if I'll meet anyone new," McPhee said. "I'm not much of a schmoozer."
John Mayer was one of the first to arrive at Clive's shindig, and the first to break out the "just happy to be nominated" line, although with a welcome twist. "Win or lose, you gotta give your nominations back," he said. "I wish there was some kind of like final deal. You could wait until tomorrow and have a one-in-five chance of winning, or you can trade it in now for a speedboat. I want that speedboat!" Mayer, who was presumably not sitting at the same table as Nick Lachey, wasn't expecting a late night as he had an early call time. "Music is my bitch, and she keeps a short leash on me," he quipped.
Also pulling out the "just happy to be nominated" line was Ne-Yo, who's not putting any money on himself, to say the least, for the Male R&B Vocal Performance prize. "Let me see," he said. "Prince is in the category. Lionel Richie is in the category. Luther Vandross is in the category. I don't see myself winning."
Even with all the major stars on the carpet (Diddy, Mary J. Blige, blah blah blah) the artist who clearly caught the most eyes was Best New Artist nominee Imogen Heap, who, in platform heels, towered at least 7 feet tall — even over Slash's top hat. Several media outlets had to ask who the woman was, but then again, that also happened to Velvet Revolver, and most of those dudes were in Guns N' Roses!
Just like Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy I-have-more-juice-than-all-of-y'all celebrity gala, the Roots' yearly jam session the night before — which always leads into the morning of — the big show is becoming tradition. It's four years running now for ?uestlove, Black Thought and the gang.
Once again they returned to West Hollywood's Key Club, and if you haven't learned by now that you need to get there early, you might not deserve to get in.
Well, unless you are part of the band. The Roots actually had a gig Saturday night in Universal City, where they welcomed guests such as Akon, Jill Scott and Lupe Fiasco, so it took them a little time to get to the Key Club — especially in the world's most dreaded traffic.
Things started slowly. ?uest announced that for only the third time in 20 years, former Prince protégés the Family would be performing. And although people sang along as lead singer St. Paul crooned "Nothing Compares 2 U" — the Family were actually first to release the Prince-penned song, five years before Sinead O'Connor scored a #1 single with it in 1990 — the crowd was growing weary and was ready for the Roots.
But when Roots bassist Hub was seen walking through the crowd — which included actor Michael Rapaport — things didn't bode well for those hoping for an early night.
Maybe the show couldn't kick off properly because because the people the Roots were supposed to jam with couldn't get in.
"The fire marshal is trying to shut us down," a guy declaring he was one of the club's managers whined to another guy trying to get into the VIP section without a VIP wristband.
"The problem is that there are too many people," the manager later hissed to a friend. "You have India.Arie, Fall Out Boy, Anita Baker, and they all have people with them. ... The problem is Alicia Keys with 12 people. I can let two in, but 12 people? We're at capacity."
Meanwhile, in a downstairs lounge, Dave Chappelle smoked a cigarette and talked to Will.I.Am, and Def Jam newcomer Chrisette Michele sat with her brother and cousin.
Sunday, 1:50 a.m.: Last call for alcohol, and Black Thought finally got on the mic and welcomed everyone. He told the people the show would be real loose.
2:00 a.m.: The parade of stars began.
Anita Baker came out scattin'. She testified to the people that the Roots crew "make it look easy, but to do it live with no net, it takes a lot of soul." Baker and India.Arie then traded soulful riffs.
Later Dave Chappelle came out and got the loudest show of support of the night.
"I miss being on TV. ... Damn you, integrity."
Chappelle also joked that he hated the way Comedy Central brought in new hosts for the last season of his show.
"Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings hosting my sh-- — that sh-- cut like a knife! That's like giving 'The Cosby Show' to Rudy and Vanessa."
Chappelle then introduced Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy, who shocked the crowd with pleasant surprise: a soulful rendition of "She's a Bad Mama Jama."
Grammy Party Report: Friday
If the IRS ever needs to get a hold of Wesley Snipes again, maybe they should try inviting him to a Justin Timberlake concert. Though scarcely seen of late, the "New Jack City" leading man was among the glut of stars who came out Friday night to Hollywood's Avalon to see the singer that everybody seems to love these days: JT.
The show was billed as Justin Timberlake and Friends, with "friends" being the key word because it was the not the full-on JT concert many were hoping it would be. Timberlake had plenty of stage time as the host of the evening, but he was occupied with way more than singing Friday night.
Just getting in was a long, drawn-out process unless you had the right status. Even then, you might have to wait a little while. Many random fans who had no invites meandered in the front of the Avalon while some celebs like Snipes were able to walk right in through the front entrance. (Who's going to tell Nino Brown he has to wait?) There was a red carpet going in the back, while Kid Rock — followed minutes later by Will.I.Am — walked in immediately through the back VIP entrance. During a logjam to get in via the VIP, Nick Lachey and Mark McGrath pleasantly chatted.
Inside, other Hollywood and music-industry types including JC Chasez and the former TV Hercules Kevin Sorbo chilled in the crowd while DJ Samantha Ronson spun records including "White Lines."
Finally, after Timberlake's manager Johnny Wright announced a new partnership with Timberlake and Verizon called JT TV — featuring movies, music and fashion programming — the man of the hour took to the stage and had two questions: "Who's drunk?" and "Who wishes they were drunk?"
Danity Kane opened the show with a brief set and then Neptunes' artist Kenna performed a handful of songs from his upcoming album. Although the crowd was unfamiliar with the music, everyone got a kick out of one of the players Kenna had backing him up: Justin. Yes, Timberlake was on the drums for Kenna's entire set and looked almost as comfortable behind the kit as the Roots' ?uestlove as he pounded away with his sticks.
Up in the packed VIP balcony you could see Paris Hilton and Diddy, while more stars such as Meagan Good, Bokeem Woodbine and Nick Cannon were spotted on the floor.
Following nearly an hour of performances by more of Timberlake's friends, including the Black Eyed Peas and Fergie — highlighted by Will.I.Am rapping off the top of his head while Justin beat-boxed — it was time for a actual JT song. He and Will performed "Damn Girl."
After a brief intermission, Nelly Furtado and Timbaland came out to perform, and during "Promiscuous," Justin sat at the keyboard and sang backup: "Promiscuous girl/ Wherever you are/ I'm all alone/ And it's you that I want."
Timbo then took a little time to boast.
"This the moment y'all been waiting for," he told the crowd, with a huge smile. "You got Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry on the stage. Me and Justin are like the new sh-- — and Nelly is our Wonder Woman."
The super-friends then went into Timbaland's new track "Give It To Me."
Timbo and Timberlake really seemed to be enjoying each other, continuing to smile and laugh while singing.
There was no "My Love" or "Di-- in a Box" to be sung this night — you'll have to catch Justin on tour for that — but he did close out the night with "SexyBack."
As everyone filed out, the fans who were not lucky enough to get in did get a chance to take a few pictures as the stars left. Before Diddy left out in his SUV, he posed for a couple of shots and asked the people, "What's up?"
Meanwhile, over at the Roosevelt Hotel, lines were long and partygoers were desperate to get inside Fall Out Boy's ultra-packed pre-Grammy party in the penthouse. The suite's miniscule max capacity (135 people) meant that many left disappointed or tried to resort to some old-fashioned trickery to make their way up to the top floor. (Our favorite line: "I know the fire inspector, he said it was OK to let more people up.")
Luckily, we used the power of the press pass (and 20 bucks) to make our way in, and though it was plenty crowded, we're positive we saw Panic! at the Disco's Jon Walker, Hot Hot Heat's Steve Bays, Butch Walker, members of the Bronx, a super-serious Nick Zinner and about 50 bazillion dudes with bangs holding it down on the inside.
We're also fairly sure we spotted Pete Wentz too, but like we said, the penthouse was filled to capacity, and it wasn't long before we were scurrying back down to Hollywood Boulevard for some much-appreciated fresh air.
Earlier Friday — with the big show just 48 hours away — the Grammy Style Studio event had the likes of of Ne-Yo, Paul Oakenfold and the Pussycat Dolls loading up on free garb for the weekend. While Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B. dresses were running low, there was still plenty of swag flowing, especially for the guys.
"As artists, we put ourselves out there, so it's great that the Grammys have this to show us a little gratitude," Backstreet Boys singer Howie Dorough said, gleaming over some new Ted Baker shirts and K-Swiss sneakers.
Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda hit the Style Studio for the third year in a row, although he seemed more consumed with two-waying his bandmates about the title of their new record, which they hoped to settle on by the end of the day.
"I don't even know what I'm doing, but it's a chance to see if something works," he said of why he went to the suite. "If you try it on and it looks ridiculous, you can have a good laugh. If it looks good, you gotta have it."
Of all the big names in the building, it was the Roots who were the most talked-about, their sincerity and gratitude apparently going a long way. "They were so fun to talk to," one rep said. And drummer ?uestlove lived up to the hype when he made time for MTV News, especially when recalling a story from 2000, when the Roots last won a Grammy.
"I'm usually pretty eloquent but I was stuttering all over the place," he said of his acceptance speech. "People thought I was nervous, but that wasn't it. That was the year J. Lo wore that Versace dress and she Sharon-Stoned me from the front row." And yes, that's a "Basic Instinct" reference.
The Roots are hosting their own annual Grammy party Saturday and ?uestlove was happy to spill some secrets, including that he's reuniting Prince's the Family for the jam session to take place at the Keyclub in Hollywood. "I'm more excited about that than my band selling out a 20,000-seat venue in L.A.," he said, referring to their show at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, to be held earlier Saturday. "The Clive Davis party is the prestigious party to go to [on Saturday], but we want to be the thorn in their side." And to accomplish that, he convinced the club to stay open until 4 a.m.
Finally, one more juicy nugget from ?uest: Although he wouldn't name names, he said the Roots were hitting the studio Friday night with a "very big rock band" with a #1 album. (Hmm ... Fall Out Boy?) "Whether we can make something happen between midnight and 5 a.m., we will see!" ...
Grammy Party Report: Thursday
The party buzz leading up to this year's Grammy Awards has been a little quieter than in the last few years. In '06, the Fugees shut down streets in downtown L.A. for a reunion concert, Kanye West and Tom Cruise were hanging tough ... even Geto Boy Bushwick Bill was out and about for festivities that lasted almost the entire week. This year's Grammy parties are getting off to a late start, with the first major one not happening until Thursday night at Hollywood's Boulevard3, where Entertainment Weekly and Hennessey held a party in honor of super-producer Timbaland.
Outside, the red carpet didn't see much action throughout the night. While walking the party's red carpet, Timbo — still reveling in the much-discussed Justin Timberlake show he participated in at New York's Madison Square Garden the night before — said he's been to extravaganzas held in his honor in Miami and New York, but wasn't sure how the L.A. one would turn out.
"This is a Timbaland L.A. party, so it's a little different," said the producer, who co-hosted the event. "A Timbaland party in Miami is crazy. This is a little more chill."
Still, he was prepared. The super-producer said he would probably be taking it back to his days as DJ Timmy Tim and spinning some records on the turntable.
Before you could even get into the Boulevard3 party, a six-piece string section could be heard in the outside area. Ryan Seacrest and "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson were already holding court in separate conversations.
Seacrest and Jackson joked that they had chosen the Timbaland party as their weekly "date." "I made him drive this time," Seacrest teased. When the two bumped into comedian Bill Bellamy and posed for a photo — with Jackson in the middle — the former "MTV Jams" host joked, "It's a host sandwich?" "A host sandwich?" Jackson asked.
As she was rushing inside to give a champagne toast, Nelly Furtado said she's hoping to get a twin this weekend to accompany her Grammy at home. "It's in my library and it looks lonely," she said, smiling.
Rich Boy and Marques Houston also headed inside. Houston busted out his "Grammy week bling" for the first time for Timbo's party, which he hit with manager Chris Stokes. Houston revealed that he, Omarion and Stokes, who is also a director, will follow up 2004's "You Got Served" with another collaborative film. "It's called 'Back Down,' " Houston revealed. "First you got served, now you got to back down."
Inside, a painted portrait of Timbaland hung high on the wall in a small waiting area at the entrance, greeting guests as they entered. Some Timbo-produced hits, like Furtado's "Maneater" and Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'," also beckoned them in. Timbaland had his own private section, of course, where he was surrounded by video cameras and digital cameras, while Bellamy, model Melyssa Ford and JC Chasez mingled on the dance floor.
Grammy nominee Natasha Bedingfield and Timbaland protégé Nate "Danja" Hills, who have been working together in Hollywood, took a break for the party. "We're going back, though, after we get this vibe, so we'll see what happens then," Bedingfield said.
Toward the end of the party, Furtado got on the mic and lead the toast.
"My name is Nelly, I'm a singer," she said (as if no one knew!). "I have the pleasure of working with Timbaland. ... Mr. Timbaland. Timmy, are you listening to me? 'Cause I'm talking to you right now. ... You're the one with all the magic, you're the one with all the power ... you belong on the moon. That's where you belong, 'cause you're so special. Don't ever die. If you die, I die too ..."
Nelly and Timbaland seemed very much alive on wax after the toast. The DJ played "Give It to Me" — Tim's latest single, which features Furtado and Timberlake — more than eight times in succession. ...
Meanwhile, at Avalon in Hollywood, the Black Eyed Peas threw a benefit concert for their Peapod Foundation, which helps underprivileged children around the world. This year's effort raised funds for the band's Peapod Music and Arts Academy, an educational center that will serve foster children in inner-city L.A. Guests chowed down on mini-burgers, cocktail weenies and Twinkies (classy!); Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman Jimmy Iovine received an award honoring his humanitarian efforts; and the Peas performed a hit-packed set, featuring surprise guests like Slash — who let loose a wailing solo on "Let's Get It Started" — Wyclef, John Legend and, uh, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (for real!). Meanwhile, Mary J. Blige, Eve and Daddy Yankee bobbed along in the VIP area and Garbage's Shirley Manson prowled the dance floor. Oh, and though he had a clearly assigned table behind the velvet rope, Sting failed to show. Perhaps he was too busy rehearsing with the Police to make it out. ...
Grammy Party Report: Wednesday
The Style Studio opened Wednesday, with Legend — who is performing Sunday and has been nominated for three trophies — and Paula Abdul among the first celebs snagging gear from the likes of L.A.M.B. and Ben Sherman. "There's so much amazing stuff here," Abdul said. "Dresses, shoes, diamonds!"
[This story was originally published at 3:08 pm E.T. on 02.09.2007]
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