Tag Archives: award shows

Don’t Know Why – The 2003 Grammys

The Glorious Noise compound was alive with laughter after the 45th Annual Grammy Awards concluded last Sunday night. Sure, this year’s show featured numerous artists who made the big decision to actually sing, which is a real milestone, since it happens so rarely anymore. And performances from Eminem, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, and Yo Yo Ma were entertaining for different reasons. But in the end, it was just another howler of an award show, and it deserves to be eviscerated. Yes, of course it’s an easy target. But so is MTV’s John Norris. And you don’t see Glorious Noise making fun of that corpse-like fancypants, do you?

What follows then is a quick rundown of this year’s show. Fred Durst is in aggreeance with Glorious Noise that it sucked, and Peace is cool, or something.

Continue reading Don’t Know Why – The 2003 Grammys

I Want A New Drug: The 2003 AMAs

The 2003 American Music Awards bite the head off a bat named Legitimacy

Steve Harvey’s eyes were shadowy under the brim of his fedora. They briefly flashed with that Apollo wit, only to retreat into the thousand yard sockets of their owner, as if they were afraid of the scene before them. And could you blame them? They were the eyes of a man sent onto the stage of the 30th Annual American Music Awards, a cavern alive with platinum grill’d serpents and basilisks in Stetsons. And the beasts hissed and snapped at the heart of rock and roll, still beating and bleeding on the floor between them. You go first, Indy…

Here is the boilerplate on the AMAs:

“Winners of the American Music Awards are selected by the public. A national sampling of approximately 20,000 taking into account geographic location, age, sex and ethnic origin, have been sent ballots by the National Family Opinion, Inc. firm under the supervision of Broadcast Research and Consulting, Inc. Names of the nominees on the ballot were compiled from data supplied by the music industry trade publication, Radio & Records, and the Soundscan, Inc., management information system.”

Continue reading I Want A New Drug: The 2003 AMAs


The VMAs represent everything I’ve come to hate about what currently passes for “pop” as well as the baldfaced commercialism of… well… everything – that this site so vigilantly follows. I don’t remember exactly when I stopped watching the VMAs but it was at least four or five years ago.

Posted by: Joshua on September 9, 2001 04:36 PM

Perhaps the problem with the VMAs is one that MTV has helped contribute to: In its 20 years it has taken music and turned it into “product” in a way that is unlike it had ever had been before. Consequently, it is all about the Next Thing. Churn, churn, churn. Those bands with any substance, talent or fundamental chops MUST give way within a short period of time so that the Next Thing can garner the disc sales. It is all about spiking up, always having something that, they hope, goes up higher and to hell with those that fall off the screen. So it ends up that there are a bunch of talentless mopes who get the face time—for now.

Posted by: gsv on September 11, 2001 08:33 AM

MTV won’t change. Its soulless programming of artists it chooses will continue unabated until a pop music movement comes along to either change or destroy it.

—Johnny Loftus, “Naughty Baby Did a No No,” 9/7/01

The comments and excerpt above were written in response to the feces-smeared yawner that was the MTV Video Music Awards 2001. At the time, we at Glorious Noise declared the Pop movement dead, and suggested that music’s cyclical nature would bring about something new in the year to come. And well, we were right – in a way. In 2002, MTV aped the more visceral sounds of MTV2, putting its considerable marketing, promotion, and revenue-generating juice behind the New Garage movement. Groups like The White Stripes and The Hives rose to unlikely levels of rock stardom, and even spawned imitators like The Vines, who are basically This Year’s Silverchair – representing New Garage’s inevitable second wave of blunt imitation. But if last night’s VMAs proved anything, it’s that nothing ever really changes at MTV. In 2002, a pop music movement did come along to change the one before. But instead of destruction, we’re left with assimilation. It may be a different sidewalk, but it’s the same old cracks.

The 2002 VMAs marked a rebuilding year for MTV. Over the hill veterans like Britney Spears and Puff Daddy were given plenty of playing time, but it was simply a nod to the championships they’d won the network in the past, and their no-trade clauses. Spears appeared in a laughable BD/SM latex getup that was only topped by crazy old Michael Jackson’s Voltron-as-world-dictator outfit. In a display befitting an aging, feeble King (of pop), Jackson received a standing ovation. Puff Daddy was given a chance to re-capture his old glory, but the moment was wasted on a confusing medley that featured a scampering Usher, Busta Rhymes crawling out of the mosh pit and Diddy’s usual atrocious rapping. Appearances by ancient mariners like Spears, Puff, and Jacko were offset by an entire stable of youthful hip-hop and R & B artists who were a jumble of oversized clothing, headbands, and posturing. Curiously absent from the festivities was the fiery rap gospel of Cee-Lo (another MTV2 success who MTV evidently decided not to invite) or the organic flow of Nappy Roots. Mainstream hip-hop is in definite need of a blood transfusion; hopefully by NEXT year’s VMAs, MTV will have changed the locks on Sean Combs and his ilk.

Though they’re no longer an item, you’d think that Britney would have had the decency to warn ex-beau Justin Timberlake about debuting new material on the VMAs. Spears’ 2001 impersonation of Lot’s wife, python in tow, was actually better than Timberlake’s soulless approximation of Michael Jackson’s best moves. Don’t call it a comeback, Justin. Maybe Lance has some room up in Space for your junk.

Despite all the lip service paid to The New Garage, MTV seemed to want to use the “genre” as a simple prop to occupy its time. The Hives appeared on stage in full Hives glory, performing a manic version of “Main Offender,” and were quickly ushered off stage in favor of The Vines. Pardon me, but wasn’t it Pelle Almqvist and the boys that all the pretty people were anxious to see before the show began? In a classic MTV gaffe, the Hives were pigeonholed, then codified, then made to move out in favor of something shittier. Doesn’t matter; Pelle was still able to rasp one of his classic one-liners on the outro. MTV knew it had to make stars out of The Strokes, Jack and Meg White, and The Hives in 2002 if it wanted to see a profit. And while it’s kind of disappointing to see The White Stripes’ gritty rock duality bandied about on national TV, it’s also sublime in the inexplicable paradoxes it creates. Porn star doppelgangers Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen presenting a VMA to The White Stripes? Jack couldn’t resist thanking the Olsen Twins with a “Where the fuck am I?” gleam in his eye.

In the culmination of what passes for hip-hop feuds these days, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog egged on the strange Moby vs. Eminem slapfight that Em began with his infamous “You’re old, nobody listens to Techno” line. Tell me, do you still retain street cred if you challenge a puppet to a fistfight while your posse holds you back? Em continued the altercation into his next acceptance speech, calling out Moby from the stage. “Keep booing, little girl. I will hit a man with glasses.” Yes Marshall, but will you pistol whip a puppet?

I watched the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards with my pal Phil Wise. But we both wished we were watching it at Slash’s pad, when at the end of the 3-hour bore Jimmy Fallon creamed his designer jeans (like anyone raised in the 80s should) announcing Guns n’ Roses. But what appeared out of the smoke was not the reunification of one of America’s truest rock and roll bands; instead, Axl Rose trotted out a high school talent show appropriation of his glorious past, sans any of the people who actually made G n’ R great. Off-key, out of sync, and truly pitiful, a slightly worse-for-wear Rose hopped about the stage during an unfortunate medley of “Welcome to the Jungle,” a new song that sounded like what Tommy Lee shit out last night, and the penultimate kick in the teeth to his legacy, a lurching, bloated version of “Paradise City.” We can only hope that Slash, Izzy, and Duff were laughing their asses off over at Slash’s house, confident that their own legacy was made all the more bulletproof by Axl’s buffoonery. (Side note to Wes Borland: Now everyone knows that you stole Buckethead’s gimmick for your stint in Limp Bizkit.)

Roll the credits, ’cause it’s over. But the VMAs will be back next year, three times as boring as this year. Who will be the talk of the town in 2003? Whoever it is, make damn sure that MTV washes its hands and seals its fate. Because in a year where the network and the music industry had a slight chance to bring something new to the table, they opted for wholesale assimilation.

Someday never comes.


(Read Johnny’s review of the 2001 VMA’s—Ed.)

Youth Is a Strobe Light Blinking Faster And Faster

Summer’s end. Back to school sales invade on all sides, from Pampers to The Pampered Chef. In another licensing coup for Smashmouth, JC Penny’s new back-to-school ad begins with Young Miss turning off her alarm clock’s “Good Morning.” Cue the ‘Mouth’s “Then The Morning Comes” as our girl scampers about her bedroom, wondering what to wear for the first day. Cut to Mom, who arches an eyebrow at her daughter’s indecision. With a smirk, Mom says “low-rise Mudd jeans with the gypsy print peasant top.” In real life, parents and concerned citizens rail against low-rise jeans in schools and the soft-core antics of Abercrombie’s quarterly catalog. But in the frantic media universe that surrounds the hearts, minds, and wallets of their teenagers, mothers know best. Even when the best is dressing your daughter like a coked-out Shakira impersonator. Three recent events – Seventeen Magazine’s Teen Choice Awards, ESPN’s X Games, and the Little League World Series – celebrate youth culture, but also milk it shamelessly for cash. And why feel any shame? Except for those red-faced American Family Association members on “Larry King Live” holding up skimpy thongs and decrying the death of purity in youth, everyone – youth included – is in on the joke. Inside the fractured immediacy of today’s youth culture, it’s not about what’s appropriate. It’s about just who is exploiting who.

Continue reading Youth Is a Strobe Light Blinking Faster And Faster


While there is what seems to be an excess of attention to the feats of Alicia Keys and U2 vis-à-vis the upcoming Grammy Awards®, what is perhaps of more interest is that there are other performers who have been nominated for various awards who have gotten little if any run, probably because many people are completely unaware that these performers are doing anything nowadays.

For example:

*Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.” James Taylor. Think about that for a minute. I mean, didn’t he do that song about 20 years ago?

*Best Dance Recording. “Angel.” Lionel Richie. Well, he did sing once about dancin’ on the ceiling.

*Best Pop Instrumental Album. “Voice.” Neal Schon. No, Steve Perry doesn’t seem to be nominated for anything. But don’t stop believin’.

*Best Metal Performance. “The Wizard.” Black Sabbath. Ozzy must be Iron Man. You’d think he’d have succumbed to rabies or something by now.

*Best Rock Instrumental Performance. “High Falls.” The Allman Brothers Band. Consider this: back when the band was popular (post-Duane), Gregg was going out with Cher.

There are a few other curiosities, as well. Take the category “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.” Who do you think would be in that category? I’m guessing that you didn’t think Rosemary Clooney, who is up for “Sentimental Journey—The Girl Singer and Her New Big Band.” Anything but the girl.

While I am not familiar with the work of Brave Combo, I suspect that they might be a good group, judging by the name of the album that’s up for the best album in its category: “Kick-Ass Polkas.” I can just picture some of my relatives whooping it up at a VFW hall.

Clearly, the best name of any work that’s up for an award this year comes from one Bill Kirchen, who is in the Best Country Instrumental Performance category: “Poultry in Motion.” There are a lot of groups who try to come up with clever titles. They don’t have a clue.

The most disturbing nominee this year is in the Best Spoken World Album for Children. Let me repeat that: “Children.” The name of the recording in question is “Timeless Tales & Music of Our Time.” Sound innocuous enough, right? Well, then consider the person doing the speaking: Dr. Ruth Westheimer. “Timeless Tales…” hmm, maybe she spins a story about the oldest profession.


The 29th Annual American Music Awards Drive Home the Point: Being a Celebrity Sucks.

Johnny Loftus

Everyone has dreams of Celebrity. Publicly or in private, we all eventually indulge the daydream of becoming a revered tap dancer/rock star/MC/famous playwright/________, and all the exposure, economic gain, and prime cut trim that our respective star fields would bring. As workaday individuals constantly immersed in and accosted by the environs of Celebrity, an occasional, “wouldn’t it be nice if…” champagne wish isn’t surprising. But America is also a land of extremes. And for too many of us, there is no separation between the caviar dream and its evil twin, the pipe. As if knowing what party Kate Beckinsale was at last night is going to help us finish that mealticket screenplay, we set our Tivos to record both “Access Hollywood” AND “Entertainment Tonight.” We spend too much on scratch-off lottery tickets. And when we’re sick of staring at the cursor, patiently blinking after “Act 1, Scene 1 (fade in),” we watch awards shows.

It used to be a secret world.

Awards shows – basically the Oscars, Grammys, and Tonys – used to be a privileged glimpse of the inner circle at play. Matinee idols mixing it up with starlets, kingmaking producers sipping scotch in the front row, and Appalachian comedians holding it all down with hokey bits and good-natured jibes. For the Sansabelt’d viewer, seeing it all play out was treat enough. No machinery was in place to even suggest that inclusion for the average Joe was possible. The Shrine Auditorium may as well have been on Mars. Superman or Cary Grant, it was all the same: out of this world heroes with powers we could never understand or hope to possess. But over the last several years, Hollywood and the music industry have been reconfigured. Talent is assimilated and transformed into cash, fueling and continually refining a new kind of entertainment machine. The barrier separating the celebrity from the shmo has been removed in part by online chats, rock stars appearing like Nestle Quik, and MTV’s proletariat-friendly Times Square studios. The illusion of the untouchable star has been reconfigured in turn. The rapidity with which stars are made and broken in this new media Babylon at once encourages and serves as a warning to the fresh-faced greenhorn who smokes his cigarette with style: Watch out boy, she’ll chew you up.

By all accounts, Trick Pony has not learned this lesson.

The original Kid RockAppearing at the 29th Annual American Music Awards to accept their Best New Country Artist Award, the C & W trio’s acceptance histrionics were a study in the fleeting, “Holy shit, I’m on stage at an awards show” gobbledygook that typifies backwater events such as the AMAs. The O-Town of Nashville, the three individuals making up Trick Pony so closely resemble central casting versions of Sarah Jessica Parker, Tim McGraw and Kid Rock, it’s amazing that the ACTUAL McGraw and Rock, both present and accounted for at the AMAs, didn’t cry foul. In fact, the excitable fellow in Trick Pony sporting the red bowler hat and stringy blonde hair should be rejoicing today that he didn’t receive a Mack Avenue smackdown courtesy of the erstwhile Robert Ritchie’s Detroit playas. But it’s not his fault, really. The group’s handlers chose this second-fiddle look for the group, and it netted them an appearance on an awards show, which might as well be a high point in this era of rice paper Celebrity.

The American Music Awards have never been legit. And this year’s version, with Dick Clark wearing a dress and multiple awards going to the same artists seemingly to cut down on appearance fees, didn’t do anything to suggest legitimacy. Hosted by – remember us? – Sean Combs and Jenny McCarthy, the event was an awards show for those second-tier artists who are safe in the realization that their presence won’t be necessary at next month’s Grammy Awards. (In fact, the Grammy people have made a rule forbidding an artist to appear on the Grammys if he has performed on the AMAs. Sorry, Usher…). An auditorium full of half-hearted applause whores tried to generate enthusiasm for repeat wins from Alicia Keys and (the real) Tim McGraw, even as the artists themselves hemmed and hawed their way through acceptance speeches for hunks of acrylic marking their respective albums’ astronomical sales figures. (The AMAs give out awards based on revenues, tracked by Soundscan and Records & Radio magazine.)

It’s true that we all dream of Celebrity. But the ideal is almost never the reality, to which putrid spectacles like the American Music Awards can attest. As the music industry continues to degrade itself with no-talent hacks and performance chicanery, and struggling filmmakers pimp themselves out at Sundance in a last-ditch effort for the big payout, the opportunity for Joe American to “make it in this world” seems at once easily attainable and bone-chillingly scary. A million dollar contract is great, but who wants to appear on national television dressed like a second-rate Kid Rock to get it? After all, the Rizock already is second-rate. So where does that leave you? Chances are, back in your apartment, watching a videotape of you onstage at an awards show, hopping around like Martin Gramatica and hugging Method Man, who later got you high in the back of his Escalade. The highlight of your life.

Welcome to Pop Life in ’02. And everyone still has dreams of Celebrity.



Britney is officially boring.

Spears’ pleading performance of “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” at this year’s AMAs – with its attempt at adult balladry — amounted to so much midshow filler, and did nothing to promote the upcoming Crossroads, a film destined to become the Glitter of 2002. Indeed, the former tastemaker received less face time than Nashville bullshit artist Toby Keith.

As she gets older, it becomes apparent that Spears’ flagging, running-on-fumes fame gives the frequent arrestees on “Cops” hope that, with just a little tweaking, they could be she and she could be they, with a sliver of crank falling out of her jean shorts and boyfriend Ronnie Dobbs yelling “I didn’t do NOTHIN’!” from the back of a squad car.


The 2001 VMAs Get Boring With the Cheez Whiz

Johnny Loftus

The 2001 MTV Video Music Awards made it perfectly clear that Pop is dead. For a show that has always offered at least a few bright spots, nothing in the performances, appearances, or posturing of the celebrities chosen to appear was remotely controversial, artistic, or even funny. The entire show was like Technicolor Malt-O Meal. And you know what that’ll look like when it comes out the other end. Like watching the final talent show at a summer camp you didn’t go to, the VMAs played out as a series of product placements masquerading as some celebrities playing charades in an elevator where the cable just snapped. Laugh it up, popstars: That was your fourteenth minute.

Sure, Britney’s not going anywhere for awhile. She’s too entrenched. Shit, if Virgin gives that old bag Whitney Houston a hundred million dollars for SIX albums, when all we’ve heard out of her for the past 4 years is “It’s not my pot!”, then it’s a good bet that Britney will survive the Poplife shitstorm that’s on the horizon. But what about Dream, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, Willa Ford, Eve’s Crush, or even Christina? Sorry girls. I think Branson’s hiring, though. They should have known when they read the production notes for the VMAs that required the lot of them to arrive on stage at once, en masse, like a police lineup. (“Alright Mr Jenkins, can you pick out the diva that did this to you?”). MTV knows that they need to find a fatter cash cow toot suite, but they probably figured, “Hell, what’s one more awards show where we wring out the last of whatever saleable assets these galoops had in the first place?”

And that’s what happened.

All the popstars, thugs, and moan-rockers threw themselves and their record labels a big party, and hopped around on the platform in silly hats, yapping about their upcoming albums. After all, platinum football fields and wrist ice don’t come cheap. While Macy Gray took the product hawking to QVC-like levels, wearing a dress that proclaimed the release date of her forthcoming LP, no one else was any better, or less subtle. P.Diddy and his crew of Cosby kids opted to arrive at the VMAs not in a limo, but on the flatbed of a Peterbilt, slip-sliding about on the back end, rapping – no, pleading – “We ain’t goin’ nowhere.” I’m sure that Sean Combs/Puffy/P.Diddy/Puff Daddy/Diddy Pop would like to believe that, but nothing in his new material, or that of like-minded NYC rapper Jay-Z makes me think anything other than “Where’s the remote? Maybe I can catch the last few minutes of an old ‘Law & Order’ episode…”

That’s the anthem. Get your damn hands up.

The event began with the inevitable pre-show, which was about as exciting as Kurt Loder’s new haircut. Kid Rock showed up giving props out to the D with his vintage Bob Seger tour shirt. Sitting next to the Detroit player was some west coast pussy, Ms Pam Anderson, who seems to be giving Michael Jackson a run for his money in the surgery department. Poor Pammy looks like a cross between a blow up doll and a ‘Slippery when wet’ road sign. Next to take the stand in the court of Kurt was Britney and – I shit you not – Mick Jagger. While it wasn’t clear whether he was impersonating Austin Powers or vice versa, Jagger was definitely eyeing up Justin’s lady. “Aye Kurt, Oi seemply laawwve Britney’s work. Oi believe she perfawmed one of our sawngs, did she not?”, all the while wishing he had mirrors on the tops of his loafers. While the dichotomy of Jagger and Spears sharing space together was mildly interesting, the effect wore off after the 20th mention of their November album releases. Mick, next time just buy a billboard.

So the nizight went izon, with appearances by Snoop, DMX, Mark Whalberg, and — ? – Tizim Robbins. U2 smiled wanly through their interviews and a performance of “Elevation” that featured more technical glitches than a Soviet Internet café. Pizza Hut pitchman Carson Daly, bestowing upon the bewildered band a “Video Vanguard” award, referred to their work as “a fist in the air, a kick in the balls, and 2 hearts beating as one.” Well, that’s true, but for all that dope and his network know about Rock and Roll, they’ll christen Smashmouth as the progenitors of the “next big thing.” After a series of ill-timed bits and an appearance by Will Ferrell that just made you feel bad for him, the Remaining Ramones were trotted out as icons, and then promptly denied speaking time. J Lo and Ja Rule failed at being sexy. Alicia Keys, a bright spot in the Lauryn Hill Fallout Sweepstakes (Macy Gray, Nikka Costa, Jill Scott, etc.), blew up the arrangement of “Fallin'” into a groaning, teetering beast that devoured the simple pleasure of the song’s studio version. Oh well, I guess she’s just trying to be remembered in the midst of MTV Babylon.

The Lindsey Wagner movie airing opposite the 2001 VMAs on Lifetime was more edgy and controversial than MTV’s big event. In an evening dominated by Hip Hop and R&B, concessions were made to that other fading trend, Nu Metal. Staind moaned about something or other; Linkin Park’s squeaky clean lead singers won’t make anyone wasn’t to stay out past curfew (11:30pm) in Dad’s car. Aren’t these guys supposed to be scary looking? MuDvAyNe, the Eve’s Crush of the Moan-Core world, accepted their award with glittering mohawks and bullethole makeup. Ooh, I’m so scared. Jeez.

MTV won’t change. Its soulless programming of artists it chooses will continue unabated until a pop music movement comes along to either change or destroy it. Though the commemorative articles currently circulating think otherwise, Nirvana and their grunge brethren didn’t change the station. They were absorbed and compromised by it. Maybe Radiohead, Wilco, Ron Sexsmith, Bjork, Superchunk, Edith Frost, Smog, Lucinda Williams, and Ryan Adams will get together, form a summit, and change the musical lives of everyone out there thinking that MTV is a requirement on our cultural radar. But probably not. Britney Spears will release her new album in November, and it will most likely do very well. Even though her performance of “Slave 4 U” resembled a tribute to Scandal’s video for “The Warrior,” even though the song was the biggest piece of trash since her boyfriend’s performance of “Pop” 20 minutes before her, there’s no question that Britney will continue to sell records, at least until she becomes a full time actress. And MTV will be right there to analyze it, package it, and re-broadcast it until it’s time for them to give her a Video Vanguard award down the road in her career. She should be ready for that in about, oh, 3 years?

That’s the deal with this Pop life, and that’s why it’ll fade out.



Tragically, the Grammy viewing audience found itself asking all night, “Where’s Soy Bomb?” The utter lack of anything more controversial than another plunging neckline made even host Jon Stewart’s bits about a gay Eminem seem watered-down. The cavernous Staples Center was nicely decorated in shades of purple. But so is a baby’s nursery. After all, it’s the Grammys. It’s like watching a Soviet awards show – always 25 years behind.

2001’s Grammy Awards made an attempt at diversity. Throwing bones to vocal jazz, classical piano, and the Native American community was weak, but at least it was more sincere than last year’s Carlos Santana blow job fest. Unfortunately, whatever momentum gained from these gestures got lost in the shuffle of a poorly produced show with plenty of weak live elements (memo to Jon Stewart: a sardonic smirk doesn’t count as a punchline).

A bizarrely coifed Macy Gray beat out Madonna (nice accent!) in the best pop female vocal category for “I Try.” But hey, do we really need to hear the song again? I wonder if the blue hairs in NARAS thought they were watching another performance by Lauryn Hill. In the role of Britney on Wednesday night was Christina Aguilera, who could have hid behind her mic stand if she hadn’t been lip-syncing. Boring blonde braids flitting about, the JV-squad diva gave us a sneak peek of her Branson future by arriving in a flying Love Toilet and performing (in Spanish?) with an orchestra. Back up the RV, sister, it’s over. Another orchestra helped Faith Hill’s “Breath” sound like the AAA/Adult Contemporary tripe that it is. Looking like an all-growed-up Jessica Simpson, Hill’s 93Lite-FM performance didn’t exactly give some big ups to her Nashville peeps. Shocker: she later won for best country album (Emmylou Harris to waiter: “Get me a drink!”)

U2 performed “Beautiful Day” capably, helped along by a nice light show and Bono’s trademark histrionics. Picking up record of the year honors, The Edge – normally numb – unveiled his Appalachian comedian side. Sounding like an Irish Harry Callas, Edge gave the first documented shout-out to Jubilee 2000, 3-blade razors and frozen pizzas. No one questioned whether his black ‘3’ shirt was related to Dale Earnhardt. After some filler featuring more bad live cueing for Stewart and unlikely celebrity pairings, not to mention about the millionth Unnecessary Carson Daly Siting, Moby took the stage with Jill Scott and Blue Man Group. It’s just like the unassuming Moby to stand back, playing the bass while the Blue Men and Scott conducted an odd re-version of his “Natural Blues.” But those pesky Intel hucksters became annoying about midway through the song, and that was BEFORE they started firing confetti from their drum cannons. Too much percussion, not enough Moby.

While an artist being an afterthought in his own song would be re-visited later during Eminem’s “Stan,” the night’s best performance was its simplest. Sheryl Crow warmly strummed an acoustic guitar as she harmonized with best “new” artist Shelby Lynne. My pal Phil and I were waiting for the moment to be ruined by an orchestra or 18 backup singers. But for once, it didn’t happen. A lone electric guitar player joined with Crow’s acoustic towards the end of the number, giving it a nice Nashville-meets-Tom Waits feel. Some of Waits’ boozy energy was no doubt conveyed by two of the hardest (and hottest) partiers in the business in Lynne and Crow. Roll out the drink cart, boys – Shelby’s in town.

As the show was winding down, most of the fidgeting crowd seemed to be longing for something, anything to be excited about. Honestly, where’s ODB when you need him? After a self-serving speech by the smarmy president of NARAS, who no doubt cornered some unfortunate soul at the after-party and talked her ear off like your smelly Uncle Ned, Eminem took the stage for his fateful pairing with Elton John, King Of All Gays. Em’s rapping during “Stan” was fine; he showed off his unique flow while keeping it street enough for his homies back in Cell Block 6 (But what was with his right hand? It kept fluttering around like Gene Wilder’s shootin’ hand). As “Stan”‘s chorus arrived, John made his appearance, emerging from behind a set piece castoff from the last stage production of “Star Wars.” The song continued with terrible censoring, and ended without fanfare. The two men raised each other’s arms in triumph, looking like a homophobic Reagan greeting a gay Gorbachev at Camp David for a photo op. Meanwhile, somewhere in England, a forgotten Dido cried in her soup.

After such an anti-climactic event as the Elton/Eminem Peace Accords, the record of the year went not to Marshall Mathers, Beck, Radiohead, or even that over-produced fossil Paul Simon. Instead, the cutting-edge trend-setters over at NARAS went with NYC art-rockers Steely Dan, who evidently released an album in 2000. While cheers could be heard in coffee houses full of goatee’d grad students, no realistic music fan could really give a shit about Steely Dan’s triumphant return to our public consciousness. And yet, in a move similar to the Academy giving “Howard The Duck 2” the Best Picture nod, Donald Fagen, et al took home record of the year. I swear, even Steely Dan looked bewildered about their victory. Someone get Jethro Tull on the line, quick! But that’s what happens when an out-of-touch, thick-as-a-brick group of old voters is confronted with a potentially challenging decision. Whatever you think of Eminem, or even Radiohead and Beck, it’s obvious that these artists’ music was a just a LITTLE BIT more vital in 2000 than a bunch of aging math rockers from Greenwich Village.

See you next year. I’ll be over here in the bread line.