Last night’s Grammy’s weren’t about outrageous rocker antics (although I did hear one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers curse during a pre-show on another station), or about big rapper feuds. Instead, the main themes of the night were faith and politics.
Mary J. Blige, who recently became a born-again Christian, won three awards for Best R&B Song (“Be Without You”), Best R&B Album (“The Breakthrough”), and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (“Be Without You”). Her acceptance speeches, particularly the first one, were long, but first and foremost she chose to praise God, thanking “My Father God, My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” She also spoke about how she’s grown into a better human being and that she’s happy she’s finally being spoken about positively after years of people taking about her negatively. She also said she wants to use her new success to “build bridges, not burn them.” I imagine her recent embrace of religion has something to do with her new attitude and self-image.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Blige said, “I’m not the best singer, but I have the most soul.” She proved this last night as she sang “Be Without You” with a passion not often seen in music today. She was, by far, one of the best acts of the night.
“American Idol” winner and country singer Carrie Underwood took home two awards, Best New Artist and Best Female Country Vocal for “Jesus Take the Wheel,” a song about letting Christ into your life. Although Underwood didn’t sing her faithful hit at the show, she did a wonderful rendition of “San Antonio Rose” by Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys. And, in a tribute to the Eagles, sung “Desperado.” Interestingly, the Christian singer was recently featured in a hilarious parody song, “Tony Romo,” sung to the tune of “Desperado,” which was a YouTube sensation for weeks before it was recently yanked. The song focuses on the Dallas Cowboys quarterback and includes an alleged relationship with Underwood as one of the reasons for his horrible performance towards the end of the season. Apparently the humor was lost on Underwood and the audience, but I found it very amusing.
The biggest winners of the night were country trio the Dixie Chicks, who won all five of the awards they were nominated for, including Record, Song, and Album of the Year. This was a huge surprise to me, because I didn’t think the Academy would give so many honors to such a controversial group. (It was only a few years ago that the Chicks were blacklisted around the country for making critical remarks about President Bush and the Iraq war while performing abroad).
I must say, I was disappointed with their wins, partially because I can’t stand Natalie Maines’ cockiness. During one of their acceptance speeches she said, “to quote the great ‘Simpsons’–Ha-ha,” as she imitated Nelson, the cartoon’s bully. Besides, I think the award should have gone to an artist with actual talent, which, in my opinion, would have been anyone else they were up against (OK, except for James Blunt).
Today, my fellow Idol Chatterer Paul O’ Donnell says that Maines should have been more graceful in accepting her awards and should take “her redemption…as a gift.” I couldn’t agree more. Our right to freedom of speech is something writers and artists embrace and appreciate, but personally I think it’s in bad taste to use your concerts as a political platform to trash the leader of your country–especially to other countries. For the Academy to have honored them the way they did last night means that not only has the country forgiven them, but that their fellow artists were going to stand behind them. However, instead of being humbled while accepting her awards–which they said they were–her behavior was about as tacky as her dress.
And, in other Grammy news, the mainstream blues guitarist-turned Christian artist Johnny Lang won in the category for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album for “Turn Around” (you can read a Beliefnet interview with him here); Christian rockers Third Day won Best Pop/Contemporary Album for “Wherever You Are;” Country singer Alan Jackson won best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album for “Glory Train;” Best Traditional Gospel Album went to Israel & New Breed for “Alive in South Africa;” Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album went to Kirk Franklin for “Hero” (he also won Best Gospel Song for “Imagine Me”), and Yolanda Adams won Best Gospel Performance for “Victory” off the soundtrack for the movie “The Gospel.”
For a complete listing of Grammy winners click here.
What did you think about the show? Any winners that surprised you?