Grammys: February 2008 Archives

By JAKE COYLE

To the list of Jethro ‘‘Say What?’’ Tull and Steely ‘‘Freaking’’ Dan, we may now add Herbie ‘‘Huh?’’ Hancock.

With his surprise win for best album Sunday night, Hancock joined a rich tradition of infamous Grammy winners that immediately caused audience members to contort their faces in curiosity and disbelief.

The 67-year-old jazz pianist wasn’t only the surprise winner, he was a surprise nominee. When the Grammy nominations were announced in December, a blogger for Spin Magazine wrote: ‘‘This award is meant to expand beyond the reach of pop and rock, but Herbie Hancock? Really?’’

As it turns out: Yes, really.

Grammys ratings hit a sour note

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Amy Winehouse, Herbie Hancock and Kanye West didn’t provide quite enough drama to enthrall television viewers. Preliminary estimates indicate the Grammy Awards telecast was watched by 17.5 million people.

Nielsen Media Research said today that would make it the third least-watched Grammy Awards ever if later estimates confirm those numbers.

By SOLVEJ SCHOU

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Two years ago, Kanye West’s Grammy after-party was a booze-filled, late-night affair with 3,000 screaming guests, bikini-clad women — and his mother, Donda, was in the house.

He was more subdued at this year’s party, celebrating four Grammy wins Sunday night in tribute to Donda West, who died last year, and he even left earlier than most — but it was still a boozy, celeb-filled event.

Kanye West: The Jack Nicholson of the Grammys

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Kanye West loves the Grammys.

The rapper has never hidden his lust for awards or his pleasure in the shine of a ceremonial spotlight. At the 50th annual Grammys on Sunday night, West, as usual, made his presence felt.

Accepting one of his four awards, West went so far as to say: "It feels good to be home here at the Grammys."

West had a leading eight nominations going into the ceremony and took home four: best rap album for "Graduation," best solo performance for "Stronger," best rap song for "Good Life" and best rap performance by duo or group for his collaboration with Common on "Southside."

Herbie Hancock shocked Kanye West, best-album presenters Usher and Quincy Jones, and just about anyone who was watching the Grammys when the jazz veteran won the night's big prize for "River: The Joni Letters."

But perhaps no one was more shocked than Herbie Hancock.

"It's immeasurable how surprised I am," Hancock said Sunday night after the show.

News and notes from backstage at the Grammys

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An ebullient Herbie Hancock was thrilled for his album of the year win for ‘‘River: The Joni Letters,’’ marking the first time an African-American jazz artist has won the award and the second a jazz instrumentalist has triumphed.

‘‘It’s immeasurable how surprised I am,’’ he said. ‘‘I didn’t even hear my name at first, and I was waiting to hear my name, and they said it, and I didn’t hear it. Then I heard the word ’River,’ and I said ’Is this true? Is this happening?’’’

Hancock said he hadn’t had a chance to talk to Joni Mitchell yet. ‘‘I have no idea what she may be going through,’’ he said. And don’t expect any sort of battle to be waged between Hancock and Kanye West, who many thought was the favorite in the category. ‘‘Kanye and I are cool,’’ he said. ‘‘I saw him earlier, and I said ’Good luck!’ and he said ’I’d love to wish you good luck ... but I don’t want you to get album of the year.’’

When asked if he was thought of as a conservative choice in comparison to other nominees like West and Amy Winehouse, Hancock laughed, ‘‘This is the first time I’ve been thought of as a conservative choice! What’s conservative about me, maybe the way I dress?’’

More news and notes from backstage at the Grammys ...

Where was Jacko?

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Wonder what became of the much-rumored Michael Jackson tribute? Jacko himself was supposed to be on stage for it — and maybe even perform.

We're hardly surprised this didn't materialize, though we'd love to see if Jacko can even attempt a moonwalk these days without some body part caving in.

OK, so Wino was really the star of the show

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Amy Winehouse went ahead and sang ‘‘Rehab.’’ From the looks of things, she still isn’t crazy about being there.

While the retro-soul singer never addressed her problems during a two-song Grammy performance via satellite tonight, some knowing smiles crept across her face during her signature hit. And as it wound to a close, she sang, ‘‘They’re trying to make me go to rehab, but I ... ‘‘ and gave a dismissive gesture with her arms as she backed away from the microphone.

The top Grammys from the show

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List of awards presented during tonight's telecast of the 50th annual Grammys:

Wha??? Kanye and Wino both get spanked

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Proud as we are to have another Chicago-bred musician win album of the year — and, yes, we know, jazz never wins top Grammys, so boo-yah — we're shocked, shocked I say, that Herbie Hancock came out of nowhere to win the top award at tonight's Grammys.

Poor Kanye was nervous, his head bowed, no doubt contemplating how he'd react either way — a glorious win or an even crazier wig-out if he lost. And Amy Winhouse sat on the edge of the stage in London, biting her lip, looking a bit spacey, as usual. Who would win? Who would win?

Neither. Kanye and Wino must have split the vote and in came Herbie @#$%! Hancock. This is almost as unjust as Steely Dan winning it the year Eminem deserved it. We keep getting our hopes up, and we keep getting painful reminders of this: This is all about old people. Sigh.

Fashion report from the Grammys red carpet

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By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL

Music’s heavy hitters turned out for the Grammy Awards’ 50th anniversary ceremony tonight in celebratory and respectful outfits. The fringe outfits were left to up-and-comers or those looking for some paparazzi shots.

Chicago rapper Kanye West just won best rap album at the Grammys for his CD "Graduation." And when he got to the microphone, he had a few things to say. Big surprise.

What Time is it? Time for a new album

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The Time have come for a new album. Morris Day and The Time recorded an fresh CD, their first in 18 years, and expect to tour again soon, band members said backstage at the Grammy Awards tonight.

‘‘We plan on going into the studio and getting out on the road,’’ Morris Day, wearing a gold suit, said after the group performed a set with Rihanna.

Overheard at the Grammys

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In the early awards ceremony, before the telecast, host Patti Austin remarked about Chicago's Kanye West: ‘‘I’m so glad Kanye won everything because you know how cranky he gets when he loses.’’

Some other quips and comments from Music's Biggest night ...

The list of (non-televised) Grammy winners

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They've got a lot of performances booked for tonight's Grammys show. That means fewer awards actually given out on the telecast — which, depending on what you watch for, is a good or bad thing.

Here's a list of the Grammys already awarded before tonight's show began:

Sinatra, and Sinatra?

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So we open the show with Alicia Keys duetting with Frank Sinatra on "Learning the Blues," an odd choice for an opening number. And then Carrie Underwood does her best Nancy Sinatra strut down some stairs in some boots definitely made for walkin' while dancers did their best "Stomp!" impression. Two guys here just asked, "I thought she was country artist...?"

Blog with us! Show's about to start ...

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Here we go.: The 50th annual Grammy Awards are about to begin. Will Amy Winehouse actually perform from rehab? Will Michael Jackson show up? Will the Foo Fighters sound ridiculous with an orchestra? Follow the details, reactions, lists and news on suntimes.com, on Jim DeRogatis' blog and right here at The Gold Rush!

The 50th anniversary Grammy Awards actually started in the middle of the day today, with 100 awards handed out in the pre-telecast portion of the event.

Kanye West, who leads the field with eight nominations, took home three during the pre-telecast, including best rap solo performance for "Stronger," best rap performance for "Southside," by Common featuring West and best rap/sung collaboration for "Good Life" by West and featuring T-Pain.

Whitney Houston causes stir at Clive Davis' party

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By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Whitney Houston’s appearance at Clive Davis’ celeb-soaked, pre-Grammy concert party fueled speculation that the diva would be among the night’s performers — but her only time in the spotlight came when the music mogul introduced her in the audience.

Houston, who is working on her comeback album, didn’t get on stage Saturday night, but the event didn’t lack for all-star performers — Alicia Keys, the Foo Fighters, Daughtry and Akon were among the Grammy-nominees who sang at the VIP event. Others there from music and Hollywood’s A-list included Janet Jackson, Quincy Jones, new mom Nicole Richie and boyfriend Joel Madden and Richie’s father, Lionel.

Timbaland [expletive] mad at [expletive] party

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People’s all-star, pre-Grammy concert with Timbaland ended with a resounding crash when the superproducer and rapper delivered a foul-mouthed tirade against the magazine because some of his friends were apparently left outside the venue.

Motown founder: 'It's the song, stupid'

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Motown founder Berry Gordy says the ailing music industry can reverse its slide if it puts the focus on good music.

‘‘When you get through all of this, it still gets back to the creativity — how good are you?’’ Gordy said as he accepted an award at a luncheon honoring him and producer Jimmy Jam on Friday.

‘‘You can’t replace talent — it’s the song, stupid,’’ he added.

LONDON — Amy Winehouse’s visa to the United States has been granted, but the troubled singer won’t be traveling to the Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles to perform in person, her representatives said today.

Jacko to come backo to Grammys this Sunday?

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The Internet is starting to buzz with rumors that Michael Jackson will either attend or — yegods — perform at this Sunday's Grammy Awards.

The swag grab has already begun. This report tells of special shopping sessions set up for Tom Cruise, Marion Cotillard, will.i.am and even Bono's wife — but it's not what you think: "You'd expect Bono's wife to be picking up a few free goodies herself, but instead Ali Hewson was there in an official capacity with her clothing label Edun. When asked about her famous husband, Ali joked 'I'm married to Sting, don't tell Trudie!' "

It’s going to be an ’80s flashback at Sunday’s Grammy Awards when Jimmy Jam revisits his musical roots in a one-night-only reunion with The Time.

‘‘We can’t remember the last time we all played together,’’ the 48-year-old record producer said.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, former high-school classmates in Minneapolis, formed a band called Flyte Time that evolved into The Time.

Daughtry has four Grammy nominations, but viewers may not see the band on Sunday’s broadcast, even if they win each award.

‘‘We don’t even know if they are going to air our nominations yet,’’ Chris Daughtry said Thursday as they rehearsed for Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy blowout concert Saturday night.

‘‘I’ve heard that we may not be shown, because it’s the 50th anniversary and they are going to have a lot of back-to-back performances, so you may not even see us on TV,’’ the 28-year-old singer said.

Ill Faith Hill to miss Aretha Franklin tribute

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bronchial infection forced Faith Hill to withdraw from a MusiCares tribute to Aretha Franklin.

The show's three hours long. We know they hardly give out any awards during the telecast anymore, but we're at a loss to understand how they're going to cram in all the performances announced for this Sunay's Grammys. At least in three hours. Hold on for a long night.

But a cool one, if it all comes together. Because today's performer announcement is one we've already discussed here on the Gold Rush, twice, though it's shaking out a bit differently than originally planned: Chicago rap kingpin Kanye West will perform, as will troubled singer Amy Winehouse. They just won't be performing together.

It's a race against the clock for troubled singer Amy Winehouse to make it to the Grammys this weekend. She left rehab in England momentarily last week to apply for a travel visa, but as of this morning insiders are claiming it hasn't yet come through. But if it doesn't, there's a Plan B ...

By BETH HARRIS

LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lee Lewis and John Fogerty warmed up for their upcoming collaboration on the Grammy Awards by tearing it up in celebration of music’s influence on social change over the last 50 years.

Even more Grammys performers and presenters

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And yet more performers were announced today for this Sunday's Grammys: Tina Turner will join Beyonce for a special performance, plus jazz pianist Eldar (this guy's really something!), rap-rocker Kid Rock, jazz saxophonist Dave Koz and jazz/pop singer Keely Smith.

Grammy rules allow some songs to play on repeat

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By JOHN GEROME

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Even if you only occasionally listen to radio, you’ve probably heard Carrie Underwood’s revenge anthem ‘‘Before He Cheats’’ ... and heard it, and heard it, and heard it.

The tune is on Underwood’s 2005 debut album, ‘‘Some Hearts,’’ and it first hit the charts back in February 2006. So why now, two years later, is ‘‘Before He Cheats’’ up for song of the year at the Grammy Awards on Sunday?

Because the Grammy rules allow it.

The CBS morning show today had an interesting segment about fashion at this Sunday's Grammys — specifically, a look at the music stars who'll be wearing clothes they designed themselves. Indeed, many of the names in your iPod also may be sewn into the latest fashions, as stars from Beyonce to Justin Timberlake market duds as well as tunes.

Still more Grammy performers, presenters

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More performances announced today for Sunday's Grammys telecast: a duet of Fergie and John Legend; Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban to perform together for the first time; John Fogerty with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard in a special "Cornerstones of Rock" segment; and nominees Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang in a special classical/jazz segment (conducted by famed maestro John Mauceri).

More presenters announced, too: R&B singer Chris Brown, Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus, actress and R&B singer Solange Knowles, comedian George Lopez, Lyle Lovett and Ludacris.

My Grammy Moment down to three players

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Boo! Our Illinois musicians didn't make the final cut. Ah well, they'll still be onstage as part of the orchestra. Now the choice for the coveted solo is down to three...

Will Amy Winehouse make the Grammys?

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Amy Winehouse is still scheduled to be a featured performer at Sunday's Grammys. Today, People reports, she left rehab to visit the American embassy in London to fill out her visa application ...

Local Grammy party, too, but it's invite-only

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We just mentioned an official Oscars viewing party in Chicago, and we've been alerted to an official Grammys viewing party here, too.

Recording academy chief reflects on Grammy awards

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By CRAIG ROSEN

As the Recording Academy and the Grammy Awards celebrate their 50th anniversaries, Neil Portnow moves into his fifth year overseeing the organization with a recent promotion to president/CEO. The former musician, producer, music publisher and record executive took the reins in December 2002.

During his tenure, Portnow has been a stabilizing force, following the high-profile but sometimes controversial leadership of former academy president C. Michael Greene.

Portnow described how the organization approached its golden anniversary and the continuing challenges the academy and the music industry at large face.