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Tag: Grammys (41-50 of 84)

Whitney Houston's Grammy gift to Clive Davis

Whitneyhouston_lThe annual Clive Davis pre-Grammy party is a giant star-spackled cruise-ship extravaganza, and last night Whitney Houston was its headliner, anchor, and fire drill coordinator rolled into one. Her presence electrified a room full of people who had just spent three hours eating chicken and downing wine within napkin-tossing distance of Prince — a room full of people who’d already heard stunning performances from the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson, and the man formerly known as Puff Daddy — and when she at last appeared in the Beverly Hilton ballroom, celebrity planets like Jamie Foxx rushed the stage to orbit her sun.

In a leopard-skin minidress and fluffy cape of the Chaka Khan school, Houston revealed she’s back in sparring shape; when she opened her mouth, what came out was strong and controlled (though, admittedly, she was still trading more on the theatricality of our anticipation than the power of the golden pipes she used to possess). So psyched was the crowd that it hardly seemed to miss the big notes in edited arrangements of both "I Will Always Love You" and "I Believe In You and Me," and the fact that Houston’s backup singers had to carry much of "It’s Not Right But It’s Okay" did not dim the dance party. By the time the long-dormant star got to "I’m Every Woman," the mid-range of her voice was full of confidence, her  body language full of bounce, and the entire music industry was on its feet with its hands in the air to celebrate Houston, as she celebrated the man she called "my father," Clive Davis.

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Grammys '09 live blog: It's coming!

Radioheadthomyork_lWhat with all the performers lined up for the 51st annual Grammy Awards this evening, I almost forgot there’s an actual awards ceremony involved. But there is! And Leah Greenblatt and I will be live-blogging the whole thing all night, starting just before 8 p.m. Eastern — from the first shocking award decision to the last surprising performance, and everything good and bad in between. Whitney Pastorek, who’s at the Grammys in person (lucky her!), might drop by to offer some real-time commentary, too. Are you psyched yet? ‘Cause you should be, trust us.

More on the Grammys:
Gallery: Who will win the Grammys? Who should?
Grammys ’09: Backstage video with Sugarland and Adele
Katie Couric’s All-Access Grammy Special: 10 things we learned
Grammy Rehearsals, Day One: Sugarland, Smokey Robinson… and a tardy Lil’ Wayne

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Grammy Rehearsals, Day Three: Radiohead, Carrie Underwood, Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and some dude named Stevie

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Here is why you must tune into the Grammys on Sunday: Radiohead is playing "15 Step" with the USC marching band. I’ve been told it’s okay to talk about this now (somebody else already leaked it), and how I wish all of you could have been here at Staples with me this morning to watch Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and three dozen elated college kids take an already very good song and turn it into a jubilant, slightly menacing masterpiece. We’re talking "I would pay money to buy that off iTunes" good. "I will keep that performance on my DVR to watch on sad days" good. "Please make the song into a vacation resort because I want to go to there good." It is so. cool.

When I walked in at 9 a.m., there were already tubas glinting under the shiny, American Idol-style metal gridwork of the space stage, the thunder of the rhythm section bouncing around like buckshot. They did a rough run-through with crew and directors clustered on stage, after which Yorke politely asked, "Can you make my voice sound a little less shiny? I like the idea that I’ve got to belt it out over these guys, you see." Between takes, he beatboxed a bit into the mic; the band kids sat on the risers and mostly just grinned in disbelief. Yorke wandered down to the lip of the orchestra pit and asked a nearby stage manager, "Is it okay if I stand here?" Sure, said the guy, "but just so you know" — he gestured to the floor beneath Thom’s feet — "this is a wall that comes out of the ground." Thom took a step back. "All right! Here we go! Standby!" said another stage manager, and the wall did indeed come up. The band members stirred with excitement. A stand-in who was not Gwyneth Paltrow began reading the intro off the teleprompter, and by the time she got to "Nominated tonight for Album of the Year…" the wall had lowered again to reveal Thom making a my-head-is-exploding gesture to Johnny, I assume because even Thom Yorke still gets jazzed about the Grammys. And then a snare drummer in the front row counted things off, the bass players raised their sticks, and the awesomeness began.

After the jump, I talk to one of the USC students, and run down rehearsals from Carrie Underwood, the Jonas Brothers (with Stevie Wonder!), Taylor Swift, and Miley Cyrus…

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Grammy Rehearsals, Day Two: Kenny Chesney

First off, let me report that Lil’ Wayne — who was previously not seen in my last Grammy rehearsal post — did in fact show up on Thursday, and his tardiness was apparently due less to him being on hip-hop time and more to L.A. traffic. (It’s been raining pretty steadily here, and everyone gets all confused when that happens.) Due to a variety of scheduling conflicts of my own, I was only at Staples for a couple hours on Friday, but that was enough time to catch a few run-throughs of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” production number, a Sapphic, dancey thing that comes complete with YouTube videos of fans singing along (in a twist on the “My Grammy Moment” contest), and one big reveal that I’ll not spoil, though it’s something she’s done at least once before. I also picked up some gossip on the shattering, explosive F/X involved in what the always post-apocalyptic Rihanna’s got planned. But the real reason I was there can be seen below: A chance to talk to country superstar Kenny Chesney, who’ll be performing a simple and lovely version of “Better as a Memory” on the broadcast. Fun fact about that song: It was pseudonymically written by his publicist, Holly Gleason, who you’ll see at the very start of the video. That’s a good publicist. Roll tape!

Grammys '09: Backstage video with Sugarland and Adele

As previously mentioned, my friend and yours, Whitney Pastorek, is all up in the Staples Center this weekend chillaxin’. And by "chillaxin’" (her word!), she meant "shooting awesome backstage videos." Below, check out what Whitney got to see last night at country trio Sugarland and Brit crooner Adele’s rehearsal together. Pretty cool! Looks like this year’s show is shaping up nicely, no?

More on the Grammys:
Gallery: Who will win the Grammys? Who should?
Katie Couric’s All-Access Grammy Special: 10 things we learned
Grammy Rehearsals, Day One: Sugarland, Smokey Robinson… and a tardy Lil’ Wayne
The Grammys are selling. Are you buying?

Lil Wayne on Letterman: The strangest press tour since Blago

Lil Wayne added yet another stop on the strangest press tour since Rod Blagojevich’s last night, dropping by David Letterman’s Late Show to offer the Top Ten reasons he’s looking forward to the Grammys. Since this list was scripted by Letterman’s sub-hilarious writers, instead of, say, being free-associated off the dome by the New Orleans Nightmare himself — major missed opportunity! — there were maybe two entries that elicited anything resembling a LOL from me. I’m talking about No. 8 ("I’m nominated in the category of ‘Lillest Wayne,’") and the one about how Weezy finds the Jonas Brothers "adorable." Letterman and Paul Shaffer, meanwhile, seemed thoroughly bemused by their guest, though they sure did enjoy the "joke" about crab cakes shaped like Beyonce’s anatomy. Check out the whole bizarre encounter below. I will admit that seeing this has helped me get psyched for Wayne’s Grammy performance…as long as Letterman’s staff has nothing to do with it. 

More on Lil Wayne and the Grammys:
Gallery: Who will win the Grammys? Who should?
Lil Wayne’s "Prom Queen": Make it go away!
Weezy was one of EW’s 25 Entertainers of the Year for 2008
Lil Wayne’s Gatorade ads are awesome

M.I.A. to perform nine-months pregnant: It's the Grammys, baby!

Miapregnant_lThe Recording Academy announced yesterday that British/Sri Lankan raptress M.I.A., whose ’08 anthem "Paper Planes" is up for Record of the Year, will be performing at this Sunday’s ceremony. She may, however, want to bring along a few clean blankets, sanitized water, and an EMT: Her first child is due that same day. "They say that you’re often late the first time, so I’m planning to go"to the show, she told USA Today.  "We’ll see. Peopleare trying to get me to relax and focus on the baby. It’s like being inparallel universes."

She won’t be the first nominated lady to show up heavily pregnant to an awards show: A nearly-spherical Catherine Zeta Jones had to pass on performing an athletic number from Best Picture champ Chicago at the 2003 Oscars, though she still went on to win the prize ("my hormones are just way too out of control to be dealing with this," she laughed in her giddy acceptance speech), while Nelly Furtado was with-bump — and up for two major prizes — at last year’s Grammys (alas, she went home empty-handed).
The competition in M.I.A.’s category is stiff (and, coincidentally, almost entirely British as well) — Coldplay, Leona Lewis, Adele, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. If she fails to nab the little golden grammaphone, however, she’s still got a pretty sweet consolation prize coming. Don’t you agree?

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Grammy Rehearsals, Day One: Sugarland, Smokey Robinson... and a tardy Lil' Wayne

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I’m here at the Staples Center in downtown L.A. with my feet up on seats that’d cost you hundreds at a Lakers game, just chillaxin’ until Lil’ Wayne gets his practice on. He was scheduled to start at 5:30; he ain’t here yet. The lighting guys are hoisting parcans to the rafters with rope. Placards are set up on the chairs to indicate where the celebrities go. A lady behind me on the phone is discussing Kid Rock’s meal break. Someone just fell into the orchestra pit. All that’s missing are the showgirls and a dude in a bear suit. The amazing thing about rehearsal for the Grammys? It’s just like rehearsal for anything else: long stretches of boredom peppered with performances. In between run-throughs, musicians noodle around on their instruments, filling the void with jazzy breakdowns. At the moment, we’re listening to Allen Toussaint roll through the great piano intro to “Big Chief” (you Lily Allen purists know it as the sample from “Knock ‘Em Out”). This is not a bad way to spend a rainy Thursday afternoon.

I’m getting the chance to sit in on rehearsals in hopes that something I write will entice you PopWatchers to watch the show, buy an album, support your local famous musician. I can’t see everything, and I’m gonna try and keep this free of major spoilers (i.e. I will not tell you who Radiohead is performing with, even though it sounds pretty awesome on paper), but I’ll at least try and score some sweet Grammy appeteasers to tide you over to Sunday. So! After the jump, a tribute to the Four Tops, Sugarland collaborates with Adele, and we keep waiting for the Godot of cough syrup to appear…

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'Katie Couric's All-Access Grammy Special': 10 things we learned

1. Katie Couric should not wear a blouse with extra long sleeves to look edgy. Also totally superficial but worth noting, she still has great legs.

2. According to Golf Digest, Justin Timberlake ranks No. 15 among famous musician golfers. (Incidentally, I rank No. 23,781 among journalists who occasionally cover famous musician golfers.)

3. Chimpanzees like human breasts. Or, at least Katy Perry’s. All the biographical information on Katy was new to me because I’ve been avoiding her, largely due to the fact that my upstairs neighbor plays her album non-stop. She’s the daughter of evangelical pastors who Jesus found after mom went on a date with Jimi Hendrix and dad hung out with Timothy Leary. The only secular music she was allowed to listen to growing up was the Sister Act 2 soundtrack. She was blond, and sang on a Christian channel. At 15, she put out a Christian-Gospel album that tanked. Then, after seeing producer Glen Ballard speak about Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album, she decided she wanted to work with him, and he stuck by her even after she was dropped by two major labels. Capitol didn’t want to include "I Kissed a Girl" on her album. Katy has indeed kissed many a girl. "And liked it?" Katie asked. Yes, or there wouldn’t be many. The Jesustattoo on her left wrist reminds her of where she’s come from and where shecan go back to — in a good way. Katy comes off much more shy in interviews than she does in her songs or videos. Check out the segment here:

4. Katie interviewing Lil Wayne is as good as Timberlake imagined. My favorite parts: Katie asking Wayne, "Can you take me on a little journey through your face?" (Though boo to us only making two stops on the tat train: "Misunderstood" and "I am music.") Wayne saying, "I’m a gangster, Miss Katie…I don’t take nothin’ from no one. I do what I want to do. And I’m gonna do that until the day I die. And if i can’tdo that, then I’ll just die" — then explaining to the camera that he was forced to bowl without his custom balls, or his own shoes, or perfect lanes. Wayne admitting that he’s scared of Katie’s competitiveness. Wayne admitting that he smokes marijuana for "medicinal purposes" (migraines). Wayne, born Dwayne, admitting that he dropped the "D" because he’s a Junior, his dad has never been in his life, and he’d rather be Wayne than Dwayne. (The special’s most revealing moment?) Wayne answering Katie’s loaded question about whether he ever stops and wonders if he’s being a good role model: "If you need an example for how to live, then you just shouldn’t have been born. Straight up." That’s a little extreme, but I do agree with him that people need to worry about the example they’re setting for their kids. He’s just trying to raise his two.

Nos. 5-10, after the jump.

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U2 set to perform at the Grammys

U2_lLooks like Sunday, Feb. 8, will be a "Beautiful Day" for U2 fans: The Irish rockers have just joined the superstar-stuffed list of artists performing at the Grammys ceremony. As if that wasn’t cool enough, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss were also added to the lineup today (sweet!), as were Kid Rock and Rihanna (blah). Put that together with Monday’s announcement that Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, and more would also be playing the Grammys, and this is shaping up to be a can’t-miss TV event. Are you psyched yet? Is there anyone left who you’d like to see perform next Sunday, since the Recording Academy seems to be in a reach-for-the-sky mood when it comes to booking acts?

More on the Grammys:
Grammy Snubs: The 19 Most Outrageous Omissions!
Grammys ’08: Grading the performances
EW Gallery: Grammys’ 10 Biggest Upsets
Margeaux’s Mix: The Grammys finally get it right in ’09

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