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Tag: Grammys (71-80 of 84)

Hitting the post-Grammy parties with Dierks Bentley

Dierks_lHow’s that post-Grammy hangover, PopWatchers? I’ll tell you what, as much fun as I had sitting in a tiny room and typing my uncensored thoughts into a small black box for all the world to see last night, it wasn’t until I got the hell out of the Staples Center and into the cool dark L.A. evening that my party fun time truly began.

You see, I had a once in a lifetime chance yesterday to hang out with a Grammy winner; to experience the rush and thrill of riding around the City of Angels in a big black SUV, secure in the knowledge that you are the best of the best, a cherished pearl in the music industry oyster; to feel the warmth and love of your colleagues as you attend fabulous soirées and rub elbows with the powerful, the beautiful, and the jealous; to pour yourself into bed at dawn, the golden idol nestled in the crook of your extraordinary arm, visions of future successes dancing in your well-coiffed head.

Yes, my Grammy night was to be extraordinary, PopWatchers. But there’s just one problem: My date didn’t win. He ran up against the unstoppable train that was "Jesus Take the Wheel," and, as a very wise man once told me: Nobody f—-s with the Jesus.

Wait. Maybe I should back up a little.

addCredit(“Dierks Bentley: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images”)
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Pre-Grammys swank at the Clive Davis dinner

For music industry insiders, perhaps the most coveted invite of the year is not to “music’s biggest night,” as the Grammy Awards call themselves, but rather to the unaffiliated pre-party thrown one night before. Its initials: CD. As in Clive Davis. He’s the mogul behind dozens of Arista Records success stories (including his date for the night, Whitney Houston), who later launched J Records (home to Alicia Keys) and who now holds the title of SonyBMG chairman. In other words, he’s someone with serious cred, both as an industry titan and as a man with an ear for talent and an ability to market both newcomers (like his stable of Idol-minted stars) and vets whose careers had cooled (Carlos Santana, Rod Stewart). Which is why so many stars clamor to be in his presence for this swanky fete, honoring the best of music’s past, present, and future in a black-tie environment that’s rock-n-roll loose.

So who made the cut this year? Rocker regulars like the Foo Fighters, Kid Rock, Scott Weiland, and Slash (his seventh year!) were back on the Beverly Hilton patio (also known as the smoking section), while hip-hop luminaries P. Diddy, Busta Rhymes, and Russell Simmons mingled inside. Actors and TV personalities were in the mix as well — Bill Maher, Ellen DeGeneres with girlfriend Portia de Rossi, Meg Ryan, and Jon Voight all made the dinner table rounds, while school buds Terrence Howard and Tara Reid (who knew?) caught up in a corner. Newcomers included chart-toppers like Rihanna, Natasha Bedingfield, and Akon and plenty of recently-christened Idols, among them season five’s Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, and Katharine McPhee. And then there were the divas: Whitney, Mary J., and Christina Aguilera, who kicked off the two-hour-plus show with “Candy Man,” an appropriate choice, as there were many more treats to come.

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Live-Blogging the Grammy Awards!

Police_l_1Hello again, PopWatchers! Coming at you direct from the bowels of the Staples Center, I’m proud to present the live-blog of the actual Grammy Awards, where there will be no polka, but there will be the Police. We’re about half an hour away from the big show, and back here in the press room, the pre-telecast winners are still parading through, and the woman who’s in charge of our coop is getting annoyed with us because we’re not asking any questions. She also just accused us of not having a sense of humor. I am desperately trying to come up with a question for the winners of Large Jazz Ensemble Album, but woe is me, I cannot.

So we’re about to get underway, and according to the xeroxed schedule they just handed out, The Police are up first. I had these grandiose plans to try and sneak up to the sniper ring in the rafters to watch them play (I may have "gotten lost" during Coldplay’s set last year), but then I got scared that I’d get caught and tossed out and then you would have no liveblogger and someone would steal this EW laptop and Dierks Bentley would not only have lost his Grammys, he’d have lost his date. I can’t do that to you, or the laptop, or Dierks. Thus, here I sit. In the same building with The Police, but miles away.

7:53 pm There’s a man with a mic on the stage here at Staples warming up the crowd, telling them the rules ("Thank the Pro-Tools guy later") and pointing out the famous people. He just told Quentin Tarantino to sit his ass down. And you will be glad to know that "Lionel Richie, ladies and gentlemen, is in his seat." As are Stevie Wonder, Leslie Moonves, and, inexplicably, Philip Bailey.

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Live-Blogging the Grammy Pre-Telecast Awards!

143333__grammy_lGood afternoon, PopWatchers, and welcome to our first-ever attempt at live-blogging the Grammy Awards… from in the press room. (ooooooooooooh.)

This represents a serious new level of trust on the part of my PopWatch editors, both in the fact that I can be reasonably compelling while sitting in a small room backstage at the Staples Center, and in my abilities to push the "post" button myself without writing something that’s gonna get us sued. I know that with this responsibility comes great power, and I will try not to disappoint.

4:43 pm Right now, I am seated on a wooden chair behind a long table in the same conference room they stick us in every year. They finally got the a/c turned on back here, which is a terrific coup for all of us, but sandwiches aren’t arriving until 4:30, so I’m glad I brought pretzels. On the monitors, the pre-telecast awards are being presented in the convention center next door. This kicked off with Miss Universe hitting on Steve Vai (and a woman I can only assume was Steve’s wife yelling out from the audience that she didn’t mind), and then OK Go and their treadmills won the first award, Music Video/Short Form, for "Here It Goes Again." I am not sure if any of the rest of these will be interesting to you guys but I will go ahead and keep an eye on the proceedings in case excitement breaks out. Bear in mind, they will be handing out 97 awards over the next 3 hours. If you’re desperate to know who just took #14, "Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (Without Orchestra)," I’m sure the internet can help you out in that regard.

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Concert review: The Fray's pre-Grammys show

Fray_lContinuing the pre-party smush of Grammy Week 2007, my friend Allyson and I headed over to the House of Blues Friday night to see this band called the Fray, who I believe at least 2 million of you have heard of, since you bought their album largely on the strength of a song from a Grey’s Anatomy commercial. I respect that about you, PopWatchers: Your trust that, whatever happens, Grey’s Anatomy will not let you down. And so even though prior to the show I wouldn’t have known Fray lead singer Isaac Slade if he’d hit me in the face with a really sensitive man-stick, I decided I would trust your tastes and check it out for myself.

It should come as no surprise that the band opened with "Over My Head" ("They blew their load," said my friend Allyson) and closed with "How to Save a Life." But it takes a special band to hold my interest when I’ve never heard their music before, and perhaps the highest compliment I can pay the Fray (pay the Fray!) is that I enjoyed myself a great deal during the songs in between. They write really endearingly pleasant tunes, these boys ("There are so many of them!" exclaimed Allyson), and every once in a while they do something that grabs you by the throat because it’s really great and original and not at all a total Wallflowers+Coldplay rip-off. ("PLAY SOME COLDPLAY!" screamed a drunk guy behind me.) Plus, they were totally adorable about being at their first Grammys after a number of years toiling in Denver obscurity, and spent a lot of time thanking their parents and their guitar tech and their lighting guy… and all of us, for missing the Justin Timberlake party to be there. (No problem, the Fray: We couldn’t get in, anyway.)

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On the scene: Justin Timberlake’s pre-Grammy rager

Jt_timba_lJudging by the insane lines outside of Hollywood’s 1500-capacity theater, the Avalon, Justin Timberlake’s pre-Grammy soirée (sponsored by Rolling Stone and VCast by Verizon Wireless) promised to be a packed and glorious night. So much so that only 45 minutes after the party had started, even artists were having trouble getting in. Kid Rock, with Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger in tow, had to circle the block three times while his team made arrangements for a drama-less entrance. Grey’s Anatomy’s Sara Ramirez (with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s Jai Rodriguez), on the other hand, had to make do on her own and simply push through the crowds. Same with Maroon 5’s James Valentine. Was it worth the hassle?

In a word, yes. One thing you hope for when Justin Timberlake agrees to host a party is that maybe some of his friends (like Nelly Furtado, Timbaland, the Black Eyed Peas, etc.) will show. Well, not only did they make it there (and fortunately, they all got in okay) but they also treated a sweaty and likely cranky crowd to a series of high-energy performances and spontaneous jams.

P. Diddy creation Danity Kane got things going before handing off the mic to Pharrell protégé Kenna, who was, in turn, joined by Timberlake on drums. Impressed by JT’s prowess on the skins, I turned to his ’NSync groupmate JC Chasez, who happened to be standing next to me, to ask what he thought. “Justin can hold his own — he’s bangin’,” he said with pride.

Fergie came next, doling out another delish “Fergilicious” from the same stage she was on last night for the Peas’ annual Peapod benefit. The girls were certainly down with the universal guilty-pleasure-of-the-moment (I saw Taryn Manning get her groove on with Tara Reid chanting along nearby) and a subsequent mini-set by the Peas, but things hit a feverish pitch once again when Justin joined in for “Where Is the Love?” I couldn’t help but think about the simplicity of that song, especially since the Peas, or Will.I.Am specifically, have really pushed the envelope with so many left-of-center hits like “My Humps” and the aforementioned “’Licious.” The message still rings loud and clear, but the sound has certainly come far.

addCredit(“Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com”)
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Concert Review: Peapod Foundation benefit at L.A.'s Avalon

Peas_lWoo, PopWatchers! I am here at Los Awards Del Grammy, and the pre-parties are fiiiiiine! So last night — after EW’s own party in honor of the space king himself, Timbaland — I trotted over to the Black Eyed Peas’ annual benefit for their Peapod Foundation, this year honoring Interscope founder Jimmy Iovine and raising money to build a fancy music academy for kids. (Ostensibly so that more young people can have the opportunity to become a star too young/get addicted to crystal meth/get clean/discover miraculous career rebirth/sweat in unfortunate places on stage, just like Fergie.)

Anyway, I didn’t see the whole thing, but what I caught was pretty fly. (See pics on Flickr.) I walked in to the Avalon just as the waiters stopped handing out the dinner food (dang) and started handing out Twinkies (yay!), but more importantly, there on the stage before me were the Peas themselves (pictured), performing "Pump It," or as it is more commonly known in my household, "That Cell Phone Commercial Song." And then, before I could even catch my breath — and just as I was thinking about how Fergie is all that’s left of Lauryn Hill’s legacy — out pops Wyclef Jean to freestyle with Will.i.am. "My name is Will.i.am!" said Wyclef. "I’m Wyclef!" said Will.i.am. Then they both rapped in Spanish, which, if you’re keeping track, makes two years in a row now that I have heard Wyclef rap in Spanish at a pre-Grammy party. Then they asked the crowd to place their hands in the air and wave them apathetically, and then it was on to bigger and better things…

addCredit(“Black Eyed Peas: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com”)

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Who is Grammy's most-anticipated performer?

Flatts_lThe Grammys will be handed out Sunday (check out our coverage here), but we won’t know who scored the most-talked about performance until Monday morning. Who will it be? The show-opening Police? Justin Timberlake and the lucky "My Grammy Moment" competition winner? Rascal Flatts?

Now hold on, there. Someone’s excited to see the country trio perform. (And not just Kelly Clarkson, who’s such a fan she covers them live and has joined them onstage.) They were, after all, 2006’s top-selling act. And when I chatted with lead singer Gary LeVox (pictured, right, with bandmate Joe Don Rooney) last week, he gave me a reason not to make their tribute to country rock a bathroom break:

"We’re gonna do ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’" LeVox told me before sounding genuinely concerned that he’ll confuse the words to the latter Eagles hit with those of his band’s recent cover "Life is a Highway." He continued, "Please put a TelePrompTer up: ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ Gary, not ‘Life is a Highway.’ See, it’s not like a regular concert where you can go, ‘Sing it!’ and hold the mic out [to the audience]. Mary J. and them would be sitting there goin,’ ‘I think he screwed up. That’s the wrong song, I believe, right there.’"

addCredit(“Rascal Flatts: Bryan Bedder/DCP/Getty Images”)

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Cop Rock

Police_lThe Internets are abuzz today with news that Sting will be taking time out from his busy schedule of lute playing, tantric sex, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip cameos to hook up with his former Police squad, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, at the Grammys on Feb. 11. Yay. (Kudos to the Grammy folks for bringing this band back together, by the way, just as they orchestrated the Great Simon & Garfunkel Warm Fuzz-A-Thon back in 2003. It’s nice to see the Grammys broadening their scope and getting into the diplomacy game. Maybe next year they’ll have George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac kiss and make up on the show.)

But there still remains the question—raised by Whitney Pastorek in this space earlier this month—of whether this Police performance portends a full-blown 30th Anniversary concert tour this summer. In the weeks since PopWatch last reported on this matter, old Gordo fanned the fan flames when he reportedly gave his old mates a shout-out at an L.A. concert (he played the lute, duh), when he told a gaggle of TV reporters that he and the fellas were "talking about" somehow commemorating the 30th birthday of their first single, and when he apparently hosted Andy and Stewie at a party for his wife, Trudie, in Malibu. In other words, dandy as today’s Grammy announcement is, it’s actually nothing too earthshaking. After all, the Police reunited four years ago for a quick set at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.No, what we’re looking for is an honest-to-God reunion tour—something that stands to be one of the hottest concert tickets in years, considering the band’s brief time together, way back when (they released just five albums between 1978 and 1983). I mean, we do want to sip some Tea in the Sahara with them again, right?

addCredit(“The Police: Frank Griffin/LFI”)

Justin's Not-So-Secret 'Idol' Ambitions

16120__jt_lOooooooooooooooh! Juicy! Justin Timberlake has partnered with Yahoo! and the Grammys to invite the general public to audition via video to perform with him at the award show in February. Wait a minute…what’s that smell, people?

Oh, I know what it is. Smells a lot to me like American Idol, no? Yes. Which is unexpected, given what JT had to say back in August’s issue of Fashion Rocks about Idol and this year’s winner, Taylor Hicks: "He can’t carry a tune in a bucket." It seems Justin can’t carry his Grammy tune either — not alone, anyway!

Well, he did have this to say about Idol: "I despise it, and yet I’m completely fascinated." Translation: I’m addicted!

By the way, a word of advice to the Grammy contest winner: wear lots of layers. After all, Justin’s been known to have the occasional wardrobe-malfunction problem with his duet partners, both female and male.

addCredit(“Justin Timberlake: John Shearer/WireImage”)

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