Entertainment behind the scenes
Grammy organizers are turning the clock back more than two decades by deciding to slash the number of categories at next year’s awards ceremony to 78 from 102. It marks the smallest field since 1990, when music industry voters infamously named pioneering lip-synching duo Milli Vanilli best new artist.
In a logical move, many vaguely similar categories are being combined — traditional blues and contemporary blues (the latter won this year by Buddy Guy, pictured at left); traditional folk and contemporary folk; hard rock and metal; banda and norteno; children’s musical and spoken word.
Even with the explosive growth in categories — from 28 at the first ceremony in 1959, to 41 in 1969, to 76 in 1989 — some categories have fallen by the wayside over the years. The Grammys have never felt the same since polka was dropped after the 2009 ceremony.
The latest downsizing certainly makes journalists’ live easier. All but 10 or so awards are given out during a fast-paced two-hour ceremony immediately preceding the live telecast, making it very difficult to keep track of winners and trends. Grammy officials never provide individual tallies or historical data, turning the whole event into a vast mathematical exercise for frazzled scribes paranoid about miscalculations.
Ever the “fierce independent” and “iconoclast” — two phrases showered on honoree Neil Young at the music industry’s annual Grammy charity bash on Friday — the grizzled rocker failed to perform for the black-tie crowd who had turned out to salute him.
Organizers said it was only the third time in the 20-year history of the MusiCares dinner that an honoree had not sung, after Billy Joel in 2002 and Luciano Pavarotti in 1998. Young’s publicist did not return a call seeking comment. Young was never billed as a performer, but disappointed guests assumed the tireless road warrior might dust off a few ditties.
This project has Grammy bait written all over it. The indefatigable Tony Bennett, 83, is teaming up with the equally irrepressible Stevie Wonder, 59, to record an album of duets, Bennett’s Columbia Records label said Tuesday. A rep had no further information about a release date, song selection or album title, and an email to Wonder’s spokeswoman was not immediately answered.
Wonder previously sang on a pair of Bennett all-star recordings, “Playin’ With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues” (2001) and “Duets: An American Classic” (2006). Their reworking of Wonder’s “For Once In My Life,” on the latter release, earned them the Grammy for pop vocal collaboration in 2007 (see photo).
The ex-Led Zeppelin frontman was the big winner at the Grammys 10 days ago, scooping five prizes for his collaboration with bluegrass queen Alison Krauss. And yet the Englishman notched precisely zero nominations at the BRITs, the showcase for British music.
Brian McCollum, pop music critic for the Detroit Free Press, called the show “one of the most sizzle-free Grammy events in recent memory, marked by tepid live performances, unmemorable acceptance speeches and low-key presenters with dud jokes.”
Just one year after a skeletel and skittish Amy Winehouse was the main Grammys attraction (via satellite after getting out of rehab), Adele showed a cleaner, healthier and more confident side of British female pop singers at this year’s awards.
Grammy organizers had to play a quick game of musical chairs on Sunday when two of the awards show’s top-billed performers dropped out shortly before the telecast.
Late Sunday, news broke that top-selling R&B singer Chris Brown, who has been romantically linked to pop singer Rihanna, was under investigation by Los Angeles police for attacking an unidentified woman after an argument in his car early Sunday morning, hours before he was scheduled to perform his hit single “Forever” at the Grammys.
Then shortly later, before Rihanna’s scheduled performance, reporters backstage were handed a tersely-worded notice by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences saying the singer would not be performing at the Grammys.
Even Sir Paul McCartney is a good sport when it comes to losing, pretending to weep but making light of the fact that he lost an early bid to get his first Grammy in 29 years on Sunday at the 51st annual Grammys.
“I am really annoyed. That is why I didn’t come. I don’t come to win it, I come to be in it,” said McCartney backstage, sporting a t-shirt of the four Beatles with clown noses designed by his daughter to benefit the charity Comic Relief.
“It is a great thing and I am honored to be asked. I was watching the Golden Globes and I saw Mickey (Rourke) win for best actor. And in the audience there’s Clint (Eastwood), there’s Brad (Pitt) — they come to be a part of it, not necessarily win it.”
McCartney is the most-honored former Beatle, with 13 Grammys, but his chance at topping that eluded him early on at the Grammys on Sunday. He was competing for two awards and was also scheduled to perform with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl.
McCartney lost out to John Mayer on Sunday in the best solo rock vocal performance category. The former Beatle had been nominated for his cover of the early Beatles tune “I Saw Her Standing There,” a track from the 12-inch vinyl release “Amoeba’s Secret.”
McCartney, 66, is also nominated for best male pop vocal performance statuette for “That Was Me,” another track from “Amoeba’s Secret.”
(Reuters photo by Mario Anzuoni)
“I believe that blues, the way things are today, are more important now than ever before,” KIng said backstage after picking up a Grammy Sunday for Best Traditional Blues Album for “One Kind Favor.”
The celebrity-studded gathering of 2,200 people at the L.A. Convention Center honored Diamond, 68, for his philanthropy, including large donations to relief efforts for Texas areas ravaged by Hurricane Ike.