Before Sunday’s Grammy Awards , we had no idea who Keely Smith was. We still don’t, really, but we’re kind of in love with her nonetheless.
The subject of one of the greatest award-show teases ever (“When we return, Kid Rock and a new female friend!”), Keely was invited to appear on the 50th-anniversary telecast to commemorate her winning the first-ever Grammy for Best Vocal Group or Chorus in 1959 — by performing alongside never-nominated rap-rocker Kid Rock.
It was just one of the dozens of moments that made half of us think, “Wow, that’s cool!,” while the other half was screaming, “Really?!” Here are more of those head-scratchers:
Cool: Tina Turner coming out of retirement to show Beyoncé how it’s done.
Really?: A confused-looking Jerry Lee Lewis joined by Geico pitchman (oh, and the inventor of rock and roll) Little Richard with young whippersnapper John Fogerty along for the ride.
Cool: Jay-Z teasing Rihanna about her barely there accent by translating her acceptance speech.
Really?: Kid Rock not having anyone to translate his mumbling when he forgot the words to “That Old Black Magic.”
Cool: National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences President Neil Portnow skipping the usual “Don’t download” speech.
Really?: Replacing it with a “Children are the future” speech, exemplified by Eldar, a jazz pianist and Grammy nominee who performed on a previous telecast as a child prodigy. He entertains the crowd with some ragtime. The future!
Cool: Herbie Hancock. At any time or place, Hancock embodies what cool was, is and always will be — from his unflinching soulful sound, to being one of the first sighted guys to rock sunglasses at night. He even acted “surprised” to win Album of the Year.
Really?: Everyone besides Herbie Hancock who wears sunglasses at night, and indoors. We’re looking at you, Kid Rock.
Cool: Amy Winehouse’s triumphant return to the stage for a two-song set via satellite from London and the look of genuine shock at winning Record of the Year.
Really?: The introduction from “Snow Dogs” star Cuba Gooding Jr. That must have been a hell of a gift bag they were offering.
Cool: Daft Punk suiting up for their first-ever TV appearance, backing Kanye West on “Stronger.”
Really?: Carrie Underwood’s black-vinyl jumper and “Stomp”-fueled performance, which felt like a Duran Duran video from the ’80s — and not even one of the good ones.
Cool: Alicia Keys playing a gospel/funk orchestra version of her hit “No One.”
Really?: Pairing her with a Frank Sinatra hologram to open the show and not checking John Mayer’s ID before he wandered onto the stage.
Cool: Seal wearing YSL was OK, Rihanna in Zac Posen was great , but Nas wearing a promo T-shirt for his controversially titled upcoming album, Nigger, on the red carpet was next-level cool. And his wife, Kelis, wearing a matching jacket was even cooler.
Really? Whatever Beyoncé was (not) wearing before she changed into that silver outfit to sing with Turner.
Cool: Beyoncé showing enough leg to keep Jerry Lee Lewis alive (because he looked like he could have been a stand-in for the title character in “Weekend at Bernie’s”).
Really?: Her sliver dress without the fringe, though, not so much. Do Anna Mae right if you’re gonna pay tribute.
Cool: Offering to fill in at the last minute when Michael Jackson (reportedly) bails on the show.
Really?: Will.I.Am’s embarrassing, rambling, time-filler rap, which was so bad it might make people forget he produced the best records on the Game’s and Nas’ albums faster than it will take people to forget who won Album of the Year.
Cool: Kanye West asking producers to cut the music when he was paying tribute to his late mother, Donda West .
Really?: West was so restrained during his acceptance speech for Best Rap Album, we’re afraid this might be a kinder, gentler ’Ye, and those embarrassing tantrums at awards ceremonies are no more.
Cool: Country nice guy Vince Gill dissing Kanye.
Really?: That sick feeling we get in our stomachs when we think about the inevitable hick-hop track on the genre-jumping MC’s next album.
Cool; Jason Bateman introducing the Foo Fighters with hilarious one-liners and shout-outs to “creepy guys” in the audience.
Really?: Making the Foos play a parking lot in the hot sun.
Cool: Not seeing any of the following at this year’s Grammys: Britney Spears, 50 Cent, Diddy, Paris Hilton, the cast of “High School Musical” and Timbaland.
Really?: OK, we kind of wish Britney had been there .
Really?: Leaving out musicians like Hawthorne Heights guitarist Casey Calvert (who died November 24 of an accidental drug overdose ) and Quiet Riot frontman Kevin DuBrow (who succumbed to a cocaine overdose November 19).
Cool: Morris! Jerome! The mirror! It wasn’t exactly a reunion — they continue to gig regularly — but seeing the Time perform again (with Jimmy Jam, no less!) on a national stage was pretty cool. It became even cooler when Rihanna joined the jam.
Really?: The generation-spanning mash-up left us somehow unfulfilled. Maybe it was knowing that Prince was in the house … but not in the house, if you know what we mean.
Cool: Handing out metal awards, even if they didn’t make it into the televised portion of the show, and nominating the likes of King Diamond and Machine Head for Best Metal Performance.
Really?: Slayer taking home the prize for “Final Six,” a song that helped make the band’s Christ Illusion one of the worst metal albums of 2007.
Cool: A gospel choir singing the Beatles’ “Let It Be.”
Really?: Having to watch Cirque du Soleil while not under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. If “Knocked Up” taught us anything, it was that the theatrical troupe is not to be viewed without them.
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