Performances hit high note at usually lackluster award ceremony

With music, awards and tributes, the 47th Annual Grammy Awards was truly a night of celebration of the best music as well as the 50th birthday of rock ‘n’ roll itself.

The show was hosted by Queen Latifah who, despite wearing several beautiful outfits and giving a very sultry performance herself, burned out in the several jokes she attempted to make as she opened the show and introduced the other performers. I am not convinced that Queen Latifah is meant to be a comedian.

But of course, the main attraction of the show is the awards given out for every category imaginable. The awards were very diverse and although some artists were awarded with more than one Grammy, the show was not as one-sided as such ceremonies usually are.

Most predictable and exciting were the awards the late Ray Charles won, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for his collaborations with Norah Jones.

In addition, as one of the top- nominated artists of the year, rapper Kanye West took home three awards, including Best Rap Album for his debut, “The College Dropout.”

Alicia Keys will have to build a new shelf for her Grammys, adding four new ones to her previously won five for 2001’s “Songs in A Minor.” This year, she took home honors for Best R&B Album for “The Diary of Alicia Keys” and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “If I Ain’t Got You,” among others.

In addition, the supposedly cursed Best New Artist Grammy went to Maroon 5, Song of the Year was awarded to John Mayer for “Daughters” and Green Day won Best Rock Album for “American Idiot.”

And Founder of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun, won the first ever President’s Merit Industry Icon Award.

Although the awards were an exciting part of the night, the performances seemed to hold more weight throughout the show. The show opened with a performance by six top artists: the Black-Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani and Eve, Franz Ferdinand, Los Lonely Boys and Maroon 5.

The most exciting performance, in my opinion, was the collaboration between Alicia Keys, Jamie Foxx and Quincy Jones. First of all, who knew Foxx could actually sing? Although he used voice-overs in playing the great Ray Charles in the movie “Ray” to maintain authenticity, he actually has a set of pipes himself. After Keys sang her own song, she and Foxx played the piano and sang a cover of one of Charles’ songs. The singing was beautiful and they make an excellent, if not surprising, duet couple.

Probably one of the most talked about performances was the first time Jennifer Lopez and her newest husband, Marc Anthony, sang together. They sang a love song entirely in Spanish and, although the chemistry between them was so obvious, I wish I could have understood what they were saying.

It also seemed to be a night of tributes. Aside from the usual listing of the musical greats who had passed away in the past year, there were tributes to such southern rock legends as Charles and a special one for Janis Joplin, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, among several others who earned the same award.

Joss Stone and a newly bald Melissa Etheridge saluted the late Joplin. Etheridge, who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, and Stone rocked the performance, bringing Joplin’s essence to the stage.

The final much-talked about performance comprised artists singing to raise money for tsunami victims. Following the performance of the classic Beatles song “Across the Universe,” viewers could download the song from iTunes, with profits going to the Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund.

The performance featured some of the biggest names in music, including Bono, Stevie Wonder, Steven Tyler, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, Brian Wilson, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and Tim McGraw. The performance was truly something special and it is comforting to still see stars willing to help with the problems of the world.

All in all, the 47th annual Grammy Awards was a night to remember and this year, it was about more than just the awards. The performances took up most of the airtime, but each was unique and special in its own right, with enough flash to make the usually uptight and lackluster Grammy Awards an evening of excitement and energy.