Grammy Report #9: 'Smooth' Authors Praise Santana

Honoree Christina Aguilera pays tribute to fellow nominee Macy Gray; Best Rap Performance winners the Roots laud new musicality in hip-hop.

LOS ANGELES — Amid the Santana sweep of the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards, the writers of "Smooth," the Latin-rock combo's biggest hit ever, took time to praise the band's leader and their good fortune.

After the massive radio hit, sung and co-written by Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas, took home three awards — for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and the coveted Song and Record of the Year — co-writer Itaal Shur spoke backstage about the song's appeal.

"I think it's time, I think it's good music," Shur said. "People are tired of music that's not played with real instruments. This came along, and it just made people happy. I think 'Smooth' (RealAudio excerpt) makes people happy, and I'm proud of that."

The night before Santana took home eight awards for Supernatural, Thomas was in a joking mood about the song's success.

"It's all gone to my head now, I'm too important even to talk to you," Thomas joked. "It's an amazing thing. It's definitely an honor. I'm 28 years old, and here I am nominated for a Grammy with Carlos Santana. He's everything that you think he is. Just to be mentioned in the same breath with Santana is a huge honor."

A huge honor was bestowed on teen pop performer Christina Aguilera, who won the Grammy for Best New Artist. She apparently referred to fellow Best New Artist nominee — and rival teen pop singer — Britney Spears, when she said, "I was expecting it to go to someone who had more singles out this year."

Aguilera, who released her self-titled debut last year, also beat out critically acclaimed R&B singer Macy Gray, blues guitarist Susan Tedeschi and rap-rocker Kid Rock for the award. Wearing a form-fitting silver dress with a plunging neckline, Aguilera praised the artistry of Gray's debut, On How Life Is.

"I thought she [Gray], or some other contender, would win, but not me," Aguilera said. The blonde singer mentioned that her idol, R&B singer Mariah Carey, won the Best New Artist award when Aguilera was 8. "I hope that I'll be able to build the longevity that Mariah has," Aguilera said.

Instrumental rap crew the Roots, who won the Best Rap Performance Grammy, gave shout-outs not to other artists but to the return of musicality to hip-hop. "Originally, black music was about musicianship," bassist Leonard Hubble said after the group collected its trophy for the song "You Got Me" (RealAudio excerpt), from Things Fall Apart. The song is a collaboration with R&B chanteuse Erykah Badu.

"Black contemporary music has turned the other way where you're either just a performer, or you're a producer," Hubble said. "We're bringing musicianship and talent back to the forefront. I guarantee you we're the only signed instrumental hip-hop group in the world."

Drummer ?uestlove (born Ahmir Khalib Thompson) said the band's driving force is its love of music. "Our motivation is doing it for the love," ?uestlove said. "We went from obscurity to this."