The story line going into the 2004 Grammy Awards was hip-hop's overwhelming presence among the nominations, and even though the Recording Academy was seduced by an elegant R&B diva Sunday night, in the end it was won over by a charismatic pair of Dirty South rap prodigies.
Beyoncé had a spectacular night, winning five of six awards, including Best Contemporary R&B Album. But the cosmic-funk hip-hop of Outkast would not be denied. What's cooler than bein' cool? Ice Cold. And Andre 3000 and Big Boi chilled the crowd by picking up the big award for the night, Album of the Year, for their multiplatinum, chart-topping double album, Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below. (Click here for a list of Grammy winners.)
One of the surprises of the evening, given the early momentum of the show, was that Beyoncé did not win for Record of the Year, an award that instead went to Coldplay for their song "Clocks." Still, Beyoncé was one of the brightest stars of the night. She jump-started the awards show with an energetic performance — and a special guest, Prince. She and the Purple One performed a medley of hits, including three tracks from Prince's 20-year-old classic Purple Rain and, appropriately, Beyoncé's horn-punctuated "Crazy in Love." That song netted Beyoncé two gold gramophones, for Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Pal Jay-Z won two awards for his guest verse on the single.
Beyoncé's last two Grammys came for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group, for her collaboration with veteran R&B singer Luther Vandross, "The Closer I Get to You," and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the song "Dangerously in Love 2." Both are tracks from the Destiny's Child singer's debut solo album, Dangerously in Love.
Outkast joined Beyoncé and Jay-Z to lead all artists with six nominations each. It was Andre 3000 and Big Boi, though, that stole their thunder at the ceremony with two separate, eye-popping performances and three total Grammys. Their brand of Southern-soaked hip-hop also won awards for Best Urban/Alternative Performance ("Hey Ya!") and for Best Rap Album (Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below).
Despite having taken home a pair of Grammys in 2002 and earning nominations in the top categories that year, stemming from their breakthrough album, Stankonia, the duo still seemed stunned at their victory for Album of the Year. They beat out albums by Missy Elliott, Evanescence, Justin Timberlake and the White Stripes.
"Music is rockin' like never before," Big Boi said as he accepted the award. He then brought out L.A. Reid, the erstwhile executive of their record label, Arista, and the man who discovered the group in Atlanta over 10 years ago.
Beyoncé and Outkast's achievements notwithstanding, a big surprise of the night was the complete shutout of 50 Cent. The rapper went from relative obscurity to being the top-selling artist of 2003 within the span of one year. Yet, out of five nominations, he picked up no awards. No loss was more pronounced than when the Best New Artist award was handed to goth-rockers Evanescence in a definite upset. As the band settled at the podium to accept the award, 50 Cent rushed the stage, walked past the members of Evanescence and strolled off in an utter moment of defiance.
50 Cent went up against Eminem in two categories that pitted the mentored with the mentor. But with his song "Lose Yourself," from the soundtrack to his film "8 Mile," Eminem beat his protégé for Best Rap Male Solo Performance and Best Rap Song.
The other big winner for the night was veteran R&B singer Luther Vandross, who swept up four out of five awards, including Song of the Year. Vandross suffered a stroke last April and was not able to attend the awards ceremony. He did offer a video message thanking fans for their support while he recovers.
Justin Timberlake and the White Stripes also came up big. Timberlake took Best Pop Vocal Album (for his solo debut, Justified,) and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance ("Cry Me a River"). In picking up the latter, Timberlake described the night as "officially the greatest moment of my life." The White Stripes won two awards out of their four nominations, for Best Rock Song ("Seven Nation Army") and Best Alternative Album (Elephant).
Both artists delivered live performances that shook the Staples Center. Justin tickled a keyboard when leading a Latin-tinged big band for his celebratory single "Senorita" (which also featured Latin jazz master Arturo Sandoval). The White Stripes played their blues-soaked rock and roll, tearing into a mix of "Seven Nation Army" and "Death Letter."
The Grammys have become regarded as a place to catch unique performances (see "Beyonce Sings Twice, Christina Plays Nice, Outkast Cool As Ice On Grammy Stage"), and this night featured the soulful, the rambunctious and the quizzical. Christina Aguilera, with tightly cropped black hair that made her look like screen legend Mae West, showed why she earned a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance with a devout, passionate performance of her winning song, "Beautiful."
If there were an award for most colorful performance, it would've been bestowed to both members of Outkast. Andre 3000 gave an explosive performance of the infectious "Hey Ya!," mixing in Native American drum circles with a mint-green, toy kingdom marching band. His counterpart, Big Boi, led a kaleidoscopic all-star funk revue, that included pioneers Earth Wind & Fire and Parliament/ Funkadelic. Meanwhile, in the bizarre category, Pharrell Williams of production tandem the Neptunes joined Sting, Vince Gill and Dave Matthews for a tribute to the Beatles.
Most awards for specific genres of music — pop, rock, R&B, rap, etc. — were given out during the non-televised portion of the program, save for headlining awards, such as Best Contemporary R&B Album or Best Rock Performance. Some of those were handed out to the likes of Pink (Best Female Rock Vocal Performance), Metallica (Best Metal Performance) and Dave Matthews (Best Male Rock Vocal Performance).
After not being nominated last year despite their stranglehold on popular music, the Neptunes more than made up for it by taking the Producer of the Year Award, Non-Classical. Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo had their hand in a dozen different nominations this year as either producers or artists.
Another notable category up for grabs early in the program was for Best Short Form Music Video, awarded to late country legend Johnny Cash for his Nine Inch Nails cover, "Hurt." Sean Paul picked up his first-ever Grammy, in the Best Reggae Album category, capping off a breakthrough year for him and the dancehall reggae genre.
An hour before the Grammy Awards, check out "MTV News: All Up in the Grammys," which airs at 7 p.m. ET/PT. And stay online with us throughout the night for full coverage.
For a look at the nominees, Grammy fashion, past winners and much more, visit our Grammy hub.