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Winehouse Owns the Grammys


So the most memorable moment at the Grammys last night could have been when somebody actually referred to Andy Williams as the OG.

(Soundbite of laughter)


As an original gangster?

MARTIN: After all, this was the 50th anniversary of the music awards, and it was all about paying homage to the old and the new, with duets by Beyonce and Tina Turner. Alicia Keys performed with a virtual Frank Sinatra.

STEWART: My favorite, Rihanna with Morris Day and the Time.

MARTIN: Exactly. So it was perhaps even more appropriate that a tattooed singer with a beehive won big last night, merging the old and the new. Amy Winehouse took home five awards, including best new artist, best female pop vocal, and her hit "Rehab" won best new song.

STEWART: Did you see the performance?

MARTIN: No, I didn't see it.

STEWART: It's really great. They have it in a - it kind of looks like a lounge. 'Cause, you know, her style is sort of throwback.


STEWART: And they had the big horn section. They had the three backup singer guys doing their thing. I mean, she really - she blew them away last night. She was really…

MARTIN: On satellite, but it was still cool?

STEWART: Yeah, she performed really well, and she looked well.

MARTIN: She did.

STEWART: (unintelligible)

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: She has had a lot - she's been enduring a lot of drama back and forth about whether she could even come to the U.S. In the end, she didn't. Like Alison said, she performed via satellite from London. And the ceremony ended less than 12 hours ago or so in Los Angeles, which means our poor, beloved music correspondent Lizzy Goodman of Blender is probably running on very little sleep and much caffeine and very tired. Hi, Lizzy.


STEWART: Oh, you don't sound tired. You sound excited.

GOODMAN: Oh, well, that's what happens when you don't go to sleep…

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOODMAN: …and carry right on through.

STEWART: Lizzy, how was it?

GOODMAN: It was great. I mean, you know, the awards are super-fun, and it takes over the city, and there's a lot of, kind of, you just feel like you're sort of at some big birthday party that the entire city is paying - is attending. So it's fun in that sense, as well.

MARTIN: And what - did anything surprise you? Did you know the Amy Winehouse stuff was all going to go down like it did?

GOODMAN: Well, you know, I mean, I thought it actually came out better than I would have expected. It sort of - whenever you do those live via satellite situations, you usually kind of prepare for that to be one of the worst moments of the evening. But it was actually pretty great. I thought her performance was one of the highlights of the evening. It was really emotional and seemed to kind of tailor to the moment. She seemed a little sort of, like, angry, and that was kind of cool. And, you know, she had her little posse of people there in London celebrating with her. And it really felt - it really worked.

STEWART: Let's bring in some Amy. Let's listen to her a little bit.

GOODMAN: All right.

(Soundbite of song, "I'm No Good")

Ms. AMY WINEHOUSE (Singer, Songwriter): (Singing) Meet you downstairs in the bar and heard your rolled up sleeves and your skull t-shirt. You say what did you do with him today? And sniff me out like I was Tanqueray. Cause you're my fella, my guy, hand me your stella and fly. By the time I'm out the door, you tear men down like Roger Moore. I cheated myself…

MARTIN: So, Lizzy, Alison thinks that Amy Winehouse just nailed her performance last night.

STEWART: Do you agree?

GOODMAN: I agree. I do. I thought she was amazing. And I thought, you know, aside from it being sort of vaguely inappropriate that she was doing "Rehab"…

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOODMAN: …or not so vaguely inappropriate. Like, really overtly or something. It was also, you know, she - it's the most - it's her song.

STEWART: Well, yeah. I mean, let's call it - say it like it is.

GOODMAN: And she nailed her performance.

STEWART: And she got five awards, on top of it all.


STEWART: Yeah, a good night for Amy Winehouse.

GOODMAN: She did quite well, yes.

MARTIN: I also heard, I think also from Alison, that Mr. Kanye West had a really moving performance, right?

GOODMAN: He did, yeah. I mean, he performed - he did his - he did "Stronger" with Daft Punk live, which was, as I understand it, the first time they've every performed live on television. So that was really just - in terms of the performances here in LA, it was just spectacular. It was hands down one of the best of the night. And he also did a tribute to his mother who, you know, passed away recently. It was one of the big entertainment stories of the last few months. And he really just - he was very emotionally into it, and you could just tell. I mean, Kanye West is many things, and his ego is quite healthy, but he - deservedly so. I mean, he's just such a rock star, and he just got up there and sold it. And it wasn't melodramatic or sanctimonious. And when he was at the podium, as well, he talked about his mother. And he sort of forced them to turn off the closing, wrapping-you-up music so that he could continue it. It was just very punk rock and kind of - and confident.

STEWART: Yeah, he kind of said to - it was like, this would be a good time to stop the music.

GOODMAN: It would be in good taste, yeah.

STEWART: It would be in good taste. That would be it. He also had Mama shaved into his hair.

GOODMAN: He did, yes. And people were trying to figure out what it is. It's like, is that an anarchy symbol?

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOODMAN: You know, what is going on on the back of Kanye's head?

STEWART: Does that mean his head is so big that people couldn't see the - no.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOODMAN: Yeah, he was wearing this sort of hoody situation, and it was all this sparkling glowing things on his jacket, that it took a while to figure out what that was. But we all know now. So…

MARTIN: Well, let's - it was a 50th anniversary, and there was this whole old-and-new thing.

GOODMAN: Yeah. I mean, that's kind of always the theme at the Grammys. They're always - it's sort of an attempt - sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully - to marry kind of the icons of the past with the icons in training.

MARTIN: Well, let's listen to my favorite icon, Tina Turner, performing with Beyonce.

(Soundbite of song, "Proud Mary")

Ms. TINA TUNER (Singer): This is the way we do.

BEYONCE (Singer): I'm there.

Ms. TURNER: I'm there.

(Singing) Left a good job in the city, working for the man every night and day. Come on.

BEYONCE: I never lost one minute sleeping, worried about the way things might have been.

Ms. TURNER and BEYONCE: (Singing) Yeah, big wheels keep on turning, Proud Mary keep on burning.

Ms. TURNER: (Singing) Rollin', rollin', yeah. Rollin' on a river. 'Cause you'll be…

Ms. TURNER and BEYONCE: (Singing) Rollin', rollin', yeah. Rollin' on a river.

MARTIN: That is just so awesome. I love her. I mean, but - it's kind of gutsy for - I mean, Beyonce is a good singer, but that's, you know, that's kind of tough to get up there with Tina Turner and pull that song off.

GOODMAN: Yeah, and she sold it. I mean, I really thought - I thought the way they arranged the whole song was really cool because it felt very classic. But Beyonce's presence obviously was sort of an update. And even the choreography was very sort of vintage Tina, like Beyonce was doing all these - you're seeing her doing all these dances that we associate with that song, and specifically with Tina Turner, and then Tina Turner's right there. And it was just - that was one of the sort of marriages of old and new that I thought really worked.

MARTIN: Oh, and if only I can wear silver lame like that when I'm 68.

STEWART: Oh, man. Hello.

GOODMAN: Right. Seriously, I know. What a - I don't know what her secret is, living in France is good for her.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: She is a hot tamale, that one.


(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Okay. I want to wrap up with a final clip from the show. Here's the last performance of the night, introduced by Bonnie Raitt.

Ms. BONNIE RAITT (Singer, Guitarist, Songwriter): Rock and roll and the Grammys began right around the same time. Two of the men about to take the stage were already on the charts a half a century ago when they boldly established what rock and roll would be for generations to come. Tonight, we are proud to be joined by two of the surviving fathers of rock and roll and one of their most fortunate sons. Here to start a revival along with John Fogarty, a couple of the cornerstones of rock, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.

MARTIN: Now, according to the Grammy database, Little Richard has never actually been awarded a Grammy. And Jerry Lee Lewis has just one, from '86, a spoken word award for a series of interviews with the founding classics of rock and roll. Now, is this an illustration of the fact that the Grammys are really always trying to play catch-up?

GOODMAN: Well, you know, I didn't actually know that about, sort of, their history or lack thereof with Grammy wins. But I don't know…

MARTIN: So you thought that was authentic? That was like, here are some old-timers and…

GOODMAN: No, I mean - I mean, I thought, yeah. I thought the performance felt -I didn't feel like it was necessarily some sort of, like, kowtow to kind of mistakes made in the past for not awarding people things. I think, you know, these - the people that closed the show are total rock stars. They're vintage rock stars, but they're rock stars nonetheless. And, you know, I think that contemporary artists would be lucky if they ever perform as well as Jerry Lee Lewis continues to - don't ask me how - well into his later years. So I think, you know, yeah. It didn't feel - I thought it felt - I thought it was pretty awesome, actually.

STEWART: Before we let you go, we have to ask you about Herbie Hancock winning album of the year over all the contemporary albums, from Kanye to Amy Winehouse. What'd you think?

GOODMAN: Yeah, a huge shock. I mean, I couldn't believe it. I kind of still can't believe it. I really - I think Kanye West was robbed, you know? I think this is the third year in a row that - of his three albums, he's been nominated every time, Kanye, for album of the year. And this year, he really deserved it. And, I mean, Herbie Hancock is an absolute legend. But, yeah, I've got to say I'm feeling pretty bummed about that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOODMAN: Kanye is, too.

MARTIN: Lizzy Goodman of Blender Music. Thank you so much, ma'am.

GOODMAN: Thank you for having me.

(Soundbite of song, "Proud Mary")

MARTIN: Okay, that does it for us. This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.

STEWART: We need to end the show everyday like that. Woo-hoo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.