Thursday, February 09, 2006

U2 Wins Five GRAMMY Awards, February 8, 2006

U2 Wins Five GRAMMY Awards
February 8, 2006

Green Day wins Record Of The Year, John Legend is Best New Artist at 48th Annual Telecast

In a GRAMMY show packed wall-to-wall with music and the usual anticipation of award winners, this year's Album Of The Year award went to U2 for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, Green Day earned Record Of The Year for "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams," and John Legend won Best New Artist. But GRAMMY Awards were spread among a number of deserving artists during the 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

Mariah Carey, John Legend and Kanye West all went into the night with eight nominations apiece, and all three took hardware home. But U2 emerged the big winner with five GRAMMYs while Carey, Alison Krauss, Legend and West won three each.

This GRAMMY show also boasted more music performances than any in the telecast's storied history. It started with a unique pairing, and ended with a musical nod to a troubled city.

Opening the show like a cartoon in overdrive, Gorillaz appeared in animated 3D glory performing their song, "Feel Good Inc." The "band" was soon joined by De La Soul, then the ultimate treat, a holographic Material Girl rising from the stage. Pulsing and gyrating in fine form, the real Madonna then sang her hit "Hung Up" surrounded by a team of elastic dancers.

Coldplay blasted into "Talk" with all the epic energy and rock grandeur that has marked their career. Under a blare of white lights, Chris Martin and co., decked out in dark jackets and blue jeans, created a classic big rock moment as Martin displayed his trademark stage dancing and eventually left to prance through the crowd.

Soul crooner extraordinaire John Legend brought pure magnificence to "Ordinary People," the lovely Brazilian-tinged ballad from his album, Get Lifted . Shot in a noir -themed black-and-white haze, and surrounded by a sweeping 10-piece string section, Legend's elegant delivery and smoldering singing was powerful and emotive.

Now a country duo , Sugarland kicked it hard and hot with "Something More," proving that two can do what three used to do, and then some. The Atlanta natives showed their natural power.

Blasting their hit "Vertigo" like a jet engine on takeoff, U2 turned the expansive Staples Center into a small club with Bono's soaring vocals and The Edge's shimmering guitar fusillades. The band closed the song with a brief reference to The Beatles' "She Loves You" before edging into the familiar guitar refrains of "One." Joined by the Queen of the 411, Mary J. Blige (who was dressed in a flowing gauzy top and skin tight satin pants), U2 turned from Irish rock power merchants to a super soul backing band. With Blige and Bono trading verses, the song rose in power, culminating in the singers holding hands aloft as the word "One" appeared in multiple languages on screens above the stage.

Still emotional from winning the GRAMMY for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Kelly Clarkson delivered "Because Of You" with all the precision and intensity that made her the first-ever "American Idol" winner. The phenomenon increased her glorious night with her first-ever GRAMMY performance with the aid of a live string section.

Making his first GRAMMY stage performance, former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney treated the audience to a taste of one of his popular live performances, beginning with Macca seated at the piano for "Fine Line," followed by the Beatles' classic "Helter Skelter." Taking up his familiar Hofner bass, Sir Paul stated, "I finally passed the [GRAMMY] audition, so I want to rock now."

Lifted up by a brass section, the 30-member strong Hezekiah Walker & Love Fellowship Choir and Pastor Clarence Keaton, Mariah Carey provided one of the evening's most powerful performances. Her flowing blond tresses draping her white-cloaked frame, Carey sang "We Belong Together" and "Fly Like A Bird" like they were the most important moments of her life. Bringing that old-time religion to a 21st century venue, Carey raised the roof with her amazing vocal skills.

Aussie super guitar slinger Keith Urban sang his "You'll Think Of Me" from high atop a glass perch, banging his guitar and singing with an impassioned soulfulness. Wearing a simple T-shirt and jeans, this Everyman raised his fist high in the air before Faith Hill entered stage left. Accompanied by Urban's fire-breathing electric axe and her own acoustic strumming, Hill's "The Lucky One" joined homespun appeal to his rough 'n ready power, the duo creating an unlikely alliance of pan global country royalty.

In a world where contemporary R&B and rap pay tacit homage to old-school soul and funk through sampling and covers, the GRAMMYs honored one of the godfathers of funk with an ensemble tribute to Sly Stone. Joss Stone, Legend and Van Hunt vamped on a straight-up version of "Family Affair." Devin Lima and Fantasia followed with a zesty rendition of "If You Want Me To Stay," with Maroon 5 and a sultry Ciara crooning a joyously anthemic "Everyday People." The Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am nearly stole the tribute with his loose-limbed, stage-covering performance of "Dance To The Music," complete with feverish rapping and some amazing footwork. Not to be outdone, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry blasted through "I Want To Take You Higher" with the help of steel guitar wonder Robert Randolph. With the band and crowd primed, Sly Stone entered the proceedings dressed in an alien-like silver jacket and sporting a tremendous two-foot-high blonde Mohawk, leading the entire ensemble. When he exited the stage, the funk master had truly left the building

Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter and Linkin Park's "Numb/Encore" saluted the melding of rock and rap celebrated by producer Danger Mouse's infamous Grey Album — which mashed up the Beatles' "White Album" and Jay-Z's Black Album — when McCartney entered stage right singing "Yesterday" over the track's bouncing hip-hop beat to the crowd's delight.

Displaying the power of simplicity, Bruce Springsteen sang "Devils & Dust" like a man haunted. Strumming his acoustic guitar with an almost punk-like power and bathed in a haze of white light, Springsteen seemed to grit his teeth as he sang this song of one man's unyielding faith, ending the impassioned song with yet another simple plea: "Bring 'em home."

Kanye West and Jamie Foxx reprised the Record Of The Year-nominated "Gold Digger" like two court jesters run amok. Beginning in the audience accompanied by a full marching band with West dressed in white and Foxx in red, the pair soon had the joint jumping with song's irresistible marching cadences and hilarious pleas.

Jazz piano master Herbie Hancock utilized the amazing vocals of Christina Aquilera on Leon Russell's "A Song For You" in an incredible display of improvisational prowess. Looking like Jean Harlow in her form-fitting, floor-length silver dress and flowing blond hair, Aquilera proved she can practically sing anything, matching the jazz piano giant note for note.

Finally, the stars came out in full force for the emotional close to the night's show, a tribute to troubled New Orleans . Elvis Costello, The Edge, Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, and Yolanda Adams made Toussaint's "Yes We Can Can" roll off the stage like a Mardi Gras march as everyone in the audience joined in clapping. As soon as that song finished, Bruce Springsteen and Sam Moore (the latter of soul legends Sam and Dave) came on stage for a spirited rendition of Wilson Pickett's famous "In The Midnight Hour" (Pickett died in January.) The tribute was a fitting musical salute given the work that The Recording Academy's MusiCares Foundation has done for musician victims of Hurricane Katrina, and a memorable coda for the show.

Read Recording Academy President Neil Portnow's telecast remarks here.

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