Everybody knows the Grammy telecast is about as spontaneous as Mariah Carey lying motionless on a four-post bed with her hair extensions placed strategically across her body in a softly lit music video. Usually the producers of the show shrewdly cherry-pick categories to be presented so that every big artist has the opportunity to take to the podium and thank Jesus or their manager. So what was up with Mariah’s three wins—Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best R&B Song, and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance—not being televised? Sure, they’ve switched things up in recent years, keeping us on our toes for three-and-a-half hours by no longer presenting trophies to artists immediately following their live performances, but not letting Mariah accept an award on stage is a blatant slap in the face to the female artist with the most nominations this year and whose last CD was the biggest selling album of 2005. Hell, even Kanye West—whose massive ego is clearly an obstacle in the way of a major win—got to go up there once. Is it confirmation that Mariah isn’t respected in the industry? Did they think the meds dried up her tear ducts? Maybe that’s just how the chips fell…but probably not.
Mariah did eventually take to the stage for her performance of the Grammy-winning “We Belong Together” and the rousing “Fly Like a Bird.” Her voice, though not what it once was, sounded better than it has in a long time, and the electric medley—complete with sermonizing pastor and gospel choir—would have stolen the show if performances by successors like Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera hadn’t proven that Mimi isn’t the only one who can blow. And even though her album Confessions on a Dance Floor isn’t eligible for a Grammy until next year, Madonna was given the plum opening-act slot, performing with Best Pop Collaboration winners Gorillaz. The most sinuous pre-menopausal woman in pop music appeared as a holograph alongside the cartoon band for a mashup of “Feel Good Inc.” and “Hung Up” before breaking into a full-bodied rendition of the neo-disco hit, resuming her career-long fascination with undergarments-as-outerwear by wearing a turn-of-the-century corset over a revolting lilac-colored leotard that shouldn’t have given 14-year-old boys everywhere a hard-on but probably did anyway. And Madge wasn’t the only one in a corset: Queen Latifah sported one, as did Mary J. Blige, who reprised her performance of U2’s “One” with the perennial Grammy darlings.
Mariah was also upstaged by a few surprise wins. For a while the singer seemed poised to snag at least one of the top prizes she was up for after winning three before the show even started, but emerging frontrunners Green Day won the trophy for Record of the Year for their ballad “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (as we predicted last month), and U2, the biggest winners of the night with five awards, added Song and Album of the Year—one of two times I gasped last night—to their tally, upsetting no one and Kanye West, respectively. The other time I gasped was when a humble, teary-eyed Clarkson beat out two Album of the Year nominees—Paul McCartney and a very-pregnant Gwen Stefani, who both went home empty-handed—for Best Pop Vocal Album. Clarkson has now officially been accepted by the industry as one of their own. All in all, our predictions were pretty lousy this year: We got less than half right, but we did predict Mariah would lose out on the night’s biggest awards. In the end, it’s probably for the best though; I’m seriously concerned that if she gets one more #1 single or one more award for The Emancipation of Mimi, her clothes might fall off completely.