Dixie Chicks Make Nice With Five GRAMMYs
Red Hot Chili Peppers secure four GRAMMYs, while Mary J. Blige takes home three
Sounds from legendary artists as well as new faces made the 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards an event that was full of surprises. Former "American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood took home the Best New Artist GRAMMY while the Dixie Chicks received the Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal GRAMMY Awards.
The show began with one of the most famous rock bands, the Police. The trio of Stewart Copeland, Sting and Andy Summers quelled early reunion rumors with a tremendous, uplifting rendition of their classic hit song, "Roxanne," proving that the passage of time has not dimmed their awesome talents. Accompanied by a massive groove, Sting's voice hit all the mighty high notes, Summers' familiar reggae guitar lines soared through the auditorium, and Copeland blasted the song's Afro-Cuban influenced beat with typical rhythmic glee. Updating the arrangement with a dubbed out space jam mid-song, the Police couldn't stop the entire auditorium from joining them in the song's driving chorus.
Introduced by the legendary Joan Baez, who referred to them as "three brave women," the Dixie Chicks performed their charged "Not Ready To Make Nice." Led by Natalie Maines, fellow Chicks Emily Robison and Martie Maguire pulled off an almost defiant performance that climaxed in the song's powerful, impassioned chorus, a statement of intent that pulled the heartstrings of the worldwide GRAMMY audience.
Proving that she is everything — superstar, soul/hip-hop queen, and dream girl of hearts — Beyoncé performed "Listen," from the Dreamgirls soundtrack. Accompanied by a full string section, Beyoncé soared through the song's lyrical imagery and emotional lyrics, capturing the crowd with a one-of-a-kind performance.
Prefacing his "What Goes Around Comes Around" with a prerecorded video statement, Justin Timberlake called the track "the best song I have written so far," saying that "it just flowed out." Timberlake proved that he didn't need to work the stage either, initially performing the song on upright piano before finally taking center stage with a mini-cam, which he used to shoot his own performance, up close and personal.
Introduced by an "overjoyed" Stevie Wonder, who described them as "three overwhelmingly incredible artists," the GRAMMYs presented the first medley of the night with Corinne Bailey Rae, John Legend and John Mayer (who only moments later, won the GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album). Rae began the medley with her lovely "Like A Star," plucking her acoustic guitar as her large smile showered the crowd with radiance. Joined by Mayer's stinging guitar licks, the song rose dramatically to include Legend on piano, stage left. He sang his powerful ballad, "Coming Home." Rae and Mayer joined in on harmony vocals, before the duo helped Mayer with his incendiary "Gravity." Midway through the song Mayer delivered a ripping Stevie Ray Vaughan inspired solo, which closed the set and brought down the house.
Adorning the stage with her magnificent presence, Shakira arrived at the GRAMMYs in full regalia, including a dozen gold-clad dancers and one of the song's co-songwriters, Wyclef Jean. Performing "Hips Don't Lie," Shakira danced, pranced and shook her wild thing. Not to be outdone by his belly dancing compatriot, Wyclef back-flipped and tumbled, singing all the while.
Who else but Gnarls Barkley would have the genius to take the GRAMMY stage as two escapees from "Fantasy Island"? Dressed as airline pilots, circa 1978, Gnarls Barkley's Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse began "Crazy" solo and in the round, performing on a small stage in the middle of the GRAMMY audience. Cee-Lo then walked down the aisle to the main stage, where he was joined by Danger Mouse (on piano), a 16-piece orchestra, an orange-jumpsuit clad female choir and a kicking rock quartet.
Queen of soul Mary J. Blige was ready to work the crowd performing both "Be Without You" and "Stay With Me" accompanied by a full orchestra adorned in classic nightclub production values. Explaining that she is "in love," Blige, dressed in immaculate white, delivered a typically stirring performance filled with sincerity, honesty and her trademark soul-stirring, floor-pounding gospel infused shouts before closing the song with a powerful high note that showered the attendees like sweet rain.
Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts joined for an amazing country tribute, covering the songs of Bob Wills and the Eagles. Underwood, whose mighty pipes recalled a cross between Reba and Tammy Wynette, paid her respects to the great Wills by performing his "San Antonio Rose" as an overhead video screen showed clips of the country innovator. Rascal Flatts followed with a blazing version of "Hotel California," adding serious country twang to the Eagles' well-worn tale of L.A. cynicism. Then, Underwood performed "Desperado," turning its gentle imagery into a power rock showcase, before Rascal Flatts returned to belt out an amazing "Life In The Fast Lane."
Performances by Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie and Christina Aguilera proved that old-school soul still lives, with upstart Chris Brown doing his best Olympic calisthenics for the younger crowd. His voice sweet and soulful, Robinson sang the Miracles' classic "Tracks Of My Tears," while Richie followed with his '80s hit "Hello." Chris Brown arrived in a hail of smoke, flames and dancers wearing Slipknot worthy masks. Singing "Run It," Brown dueled with dancers, performed handstands and bounced off a trampoline in the GRAMMYs prime-time example of sports as music. The mighty Aguilera delivered a memorable, perhaps legendary, performance of James Brown's "It's A Man's Man's Man's World."
Mary J. Blige returned to the stage for a performance of "Runaway Love" with Best Rap Album GRAMMY winner Ludacris featuring R&B greats Earth, Wind & Fire. Pounding the crowd as Blige offered emotional diversion, Ludacris was soon joined by a group holding candles and singing the song's refrain.
Everyone's favorite returning soldier, James Blunt, gave a note-perfect rendition of "You're Beautiful," accompanied by only an acoustic grand piano and his lone guitar. Showered in white light, the bearded Blunt sang with purpose and clarity, a folk poet bathed in a shimmering glow.
The "My GRAMMY Moment" talent find of the year, Robyn Troup, joined Justin Timberlake for "Ain't No Sunshine" and "My Love" with T.I. Troup matched Timberlake move for move, and the pair excited the audience with their simpatico electricity. Troup was the ultimate scene stealer, belting out a scorching high note to close the two-song medley.
Dressing down from the popular glam rock video of their album Stadium Arcadium, the Red Hot Chili Peppers closed the 49th GRAMMY Awards performances with "Snow (Hey Oh)." Decked out in a yellow basketball suit (Flea), street tuxedos (Anthony Keidis and John Frusciante) and a hat (Chad Smith), the originators of The Uplift Mofo Party Plan bulleted the audience with high-quality funk rock as a snow of confetti showered the event like cosmic rain. Moments later the Chili Peppers went on to win Best Rock Album, with Smith calling on the youth of America: "We need more rock bands!"
Read Recording Academy President Neil Portnow's telecast remarks here.
For a complete list of 49th GRAMMY Awards winners, please click here.