NEW YORK — For the second year in a row, a piano-playing singer took home the lion's share of Grammys.
Following Alicia Keys' five-Grammy pull in 2002, Norah Jones made good on all her nominations and generated eight wins, the most of any artist at the 45th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. (Click here for a list of winners.)
After Best New Artist Jones wowed viewers with a stirring, candlelit rendition of "Don't Know Why," she nabbed the second award given out, for Best Pop Vocal Album, beating Avril Lavigne's Let Go, No Doubt's Rock Steady, Pink's Missundaztood and Britney Spears' Britney. The song also received Record of the Year honors, while her debut LP, Come Away With Me, named was Album of the Year. (Click here to see highlights from the show.)
"I just want to say, in a world that's really weird, I feel very blessed," Jones said after winning Album of the Year, over competition from the Dixie Chicks (Home), Eminem (The Eminem Show), Nelly (Nellyville) and Bruce Springsteen (The Rising).
Before the telecast Jones picked up Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Don't Know Why," which won songwriter Jesse Harris the prestigious Song of the Year award. Arif Mardin, who helmed Come Away With Me, picked up Producer of the Year, Non-Classical honors, while the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical trophy brought the Jones camp's total wins to eight.
Although out to an early lead with three awards in the pre-telecast portion of the night, Springsteen and the E Street band would do no winning on TV, settling for wins for Best Rock Album with The Rising, and Best Rock Song and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for its title track. Springsteen's trio of trophies brings his Grammy total to 10 over the course of his 30-year career.
The Dixie Chicks matched Springsteen's total, adding to their four previous Grammys with wins for Best Country Album (Home), Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal ("Long Time Gone") and Best Country Instrumental Performance ("Lil' Jack Slade.")
Even Eminem, whose third LP, The Eminem Show, was the best selling album of 2002, couldn't come close to Jones' appeal. Eminem won just two awards, for Best Short Form Music Video ("Without Me") and Best Rap Album. Accepting the latter award, the rapper eschewed thanking the usual laundry list of producers, engineers, managers and accountants, instead giving props to his influences.
"I made a little list of the MCs who inspired me and brought me where I am today," he said before giving shout outs to Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, N.W.A, Tupac, Biggie, Jay-Z, Nas and KRS-One, among others.
The other four rap categories weren't televised, and Nelly nabbed half of them before the Garden filled up. The St. Louis rapper took home the 'phone for Best Male Rap Solo Performance with "Hot in Herre," while "Dilemma," featuring Kelly Rowland, picked up Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Missy Elliott's "Scream a.k.a. Itchin'" was dubbed Best Female Rap Solo Performance, and "The Whole World" by Outkast featuring Killer Mike was named Best Rap Performance a Duo or Group.
A trend arose at this year's Grammy Awards in which several artists walked away with trophies immediately after their performances. Following their live sets, No Doubt, Jones, the Dixie Chicks and John Mayer, who scored for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, each picked up Grammys.
Coldplay, who performed "Politik" with members of the New York Philharmonic, won for Best Alternative Music Album (A Rush of Blood to the Head) and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal ("In My Place"), though both were announced during the pre-telecast.
Avril Lavigne took the stage only as a performer ("Sk8r Boi"), going zero for five in such categories as Best New Artist, Song of the Year and Best Pop Album With Vocals. Others with goose eggs on their Grammy scorecard included and double-nominees Pink, Britney Spears and 'NSYNC, who've all never won a Grammy.
A folk-inspired segment within the first hour continued the somber tone set by Simon and Garfunkel, who opened the show with their 1965 hit "The Sounds of Silence," performing together for the first time in nearly a decade. Introduced by Paul Shaffer, Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles" moved into John Mayer's "Your Body Is a Wonderland," which was followed by James Taylor's 1970 hit "Sweet Baby James," for which the singer/songwriter was accompanied by classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Springsteen's performance of "The Rising" mirrored the gravity of the situation that inspired it, with images of tempestuous skies looming behind the Boss, whose face reflected a red light, as if illuminated by flames.
The mood didn't remain so reserved for long, however. Lavigne's performance was meant to be playful, but came off a bit lackadaisical; and Nelly's "Hot in Herre" elevated temperatures, and not just because of his use of pyrotechnics. Eminem, backed by the Roots, simply brought the house down with a more rocked-up version of "Lose Yourself" delivered without the aid of a backing track.
Following a medley of "Underneath It All" and "Hella Good," No Doubt picked up Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for "Hey Baby." The Orange County quartet's "Hella Good" also provided the foundation for Roger Sanchez's club remix, for which the New York DJ won for Best Remixed Recording.
With rumors circulating that any mention of the conflict with Iraq would be censored (see "Guns N' Roses Songs, Chuck D's Call To Arms Highlight Rock The Vote Awards"), only Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst broached the subject of international policy.
"I think this war should go away," he offered, before announcing the Foo Fighters had won the Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy for "All My Life," from the band's fourth album, One by One.
An unidentified man joined Foo Fighters Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins onstage to accept the award, reviving memories of "Soy Bomb," the lunatic who bum-rushed Bob Dylan's Grammy performance in 1998. "Rock wouldn't be anything without B.B. King," the man said, before Grohl lightened an awkward mood by replying, "I was gonna say that."
'NSYNC, performing together for the first time in nine months, sang a mélange of Bee Gees tunes, following "60 Minutes" correspondent Ed Bradley's eulogy to Maurice Gibb and the presentation of the 2003 Legend Award to brothers Barry and Robin Gibb. The Gibb brothers dedicated the honor to their late bandmate and asked Maurice's son, Adam, to accept the award. As the young man made his speech, his immediate family in the audience and his uncle Barry onstage were visibly choked up.
The Clash's Joe Strummer was remembered by an all-star rendition of "London Calling" that featured Springsteen, Steven Van Zant, Elvis Costello and Grohl, each playing guitar and trading lyrics. Before the telecast, the Clash's "Westway to the World" won for best Long Form Music Video.
Recording Industry President Neil Portnow introduced a video montage of other musical contributors who were lost in the last year. Images of the Who's John Entwistle, country legend Waylon Jennings, Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley, Dee Dee Ramone, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and musicologist Alan Lomax, who was given a brief remembrance of his own earlier in the evening, flashed onscreen. Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay was included among the faces of those lost, but he did not receive an homage of his own, even though his contributions to hip-hop are widely considered just as vital as Maurice Gibb's contributions to disco and pop or Strummer's contributions to punk.
Simon and Garfunkel, big-band conductor Glenn Miller and Latin jazz percussionist Tito Puente all received Lifetime Achievement Awards.
The majority of the night's 104 trophies were doled out before the awards show began. Among the notable winners, Mary J. Blige won for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance ("He Think I Don't Know"), while Usher's "U Don't Have to Call" picked up the gramophone for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
Ashanti's self-titled debut won for the Best Contemporary R&B Album; Erykah Badu featuring Common's "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" took home the prize for Best R&B Song; and Santana and Michelle Branch's "The Game of Love" took home the award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals. Dirty Vegas nabbed Best Dance Recording with "Days Go By"; Korn's "Here to Stay" was named Best Metal Performance; and the Flaming Lips won for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
After having been shut out of her seven nominations last year, India.Arie scored for Best Urban/Alternative Performance with "Little Things" and Best R&B Album with Voyage to India.
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