47th Annual Grammy Awards

Review and Winners List

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With a line-up that boasted performances by U2, Green Day, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Joss Stone, and Los Lonely Boys, the Grammy Awards ceremony provided hope that perhaps this year would be different. Even if 2004 didn’t produce very many significant albums, it did mark the 50th Anniversary of the birth of rock ’n‘ roll, and perhaps in an effort to reflect this notion, the parade of pop tart personalities that increasingly has mired the event was brushed aside in favor actual artists.  Rather than rock ’n‘ roll swallowing the Grammys, however, the Grammys swallowed rock ’n‘ roll, and the result was a sleep-inducing, 3½ hour program of overly rigid and decidedly bland music that felt as shallow and empty as ever.

Throughout the broadcast, viewers were subjected an endless stream of utterly lifeless performances. For example, Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone egregiously over-sang their odes to Janis Joplin, and a bizarre and frequently horrific tribute to Southern rock was delivered by a loose-knit collective that included Gretchen Wilson, Keith Urban, Dickey Betts, Tim McGraw, Elvin Bishop, and members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Elsewhere, Mavis Staples, John Legend, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and Kanye West (who is fast becoming the anti-Eminem) provided a Broadway-style God-fest for the religious right; Green Day lacked the anger to unleash its hit single with the ferocity it required; an all-star cast brutalized a rendition of The Beatles’ Across the Universe for charity in an exercise that was so cringe-inducing and awful that it’s hard to imagine anyone actually wanting to own the resulting recording; a meshing of Usher with James Brown successfully proved how soulless today’s music has become; and the collaboration between Bonnie Raitt and Billy Preston wasn’t nearly as moving a memorial to Ray Charles as it was promised to be. Even the generally reliable U2 gave a lackluster rendering of Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own. Would it have been too much to ask for a stray obscenity to sneak past the censors as a fitting tribute to departing FCC chairman and self-appointed morality chief Michael Powell?  Hell, even actor and Grammy presenter Matthew McConaughey reprising his ganja-smoking, naked, bongo-playing act would have injected some semblance of insurgent behavior into the proceedings.

Indeed, rock ’n‘ roll is supposed to be rebellious, but the Recording Academy delivered a neutered rendition that stripped the music of its essence. As a result, the Grammy Awards broadcast frequently felt like it was pandering to the Celine Dion-loving masses it supposedly had shoved aside. It’s bad enough that the institution no longer respects its own mission of honoring the "artistic achievement, technical proficiency, and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position," but does it need to destroy rock music in the process? Gone are the days when an eclectic program was assembled, one which showcased jazz, blues, bluegrass, and classical music in addition to the world’s biggest-selling singles. Instead, the increased commercialization has brought a plethora of mid-show plugs for a variety of unrelated films as well as for iTunes, the very download service that likely will destroy the artistry of the album-making process.  One can only imagine what the 2016 show might look like as the Recording Academy celebrates the 20th anniversary of *NSYNC by featuring a reunion of the group as it delivers a medley of advertising jingles written by the highest bidders.

As for the awards themselves, the list of nominees for each category once again read like a list of the year’s most profitable endeavors. In fact, it now appears as if the road to recognition is paved through through "Blandville, U.S.A.," a concept that certainly explains why so many far better efforts virtually were ignored. Does anyone really believe that John Mayer’s Daughters was the best example of songwriting prowess to be issued in 2004? For what it’s worth, Ray Charles picked up eight awards for his star-studded outing Genius Loves Company, while Green Day scored six statues for its conceptual collection American Idiot, but for finer representations of both artists, one needs to look elsewhere. What follows is a complete list of the winners:

Record of the Year: Here We Go Again (Ray Charles and Norah Jones)

Album of the Year: Genius Loves Company (Ray Charles)

Song of the Year: Daughters (John Mayer)

Best New Artist: Maroon 5

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: Sunrise (Norah Jones)

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: Daughters (John Mayer)

Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: Heaven (Los Lonely Boys)

Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals: Here We Go Again (Ray Charles & Norah Jones)

Best Pop Instrumental Performance: 11th Commandment (Ben Harper)

Best Pop Instrumental Album: Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar (Various Artists)

Best Pop Vocal Album: Genius Loves Company (Ray Charles)

Best Dance Recording: Toxic (Britney Spears)

Best Electronic/Dance Album: Kish Kash (Basement Jaxx)

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Stardust...The Great American Songbook Volume III (Rod Stewart)

Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance: Code of Silence (Bruce Springsteen)

Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with VocalVertigo (U2)

Best Hard Rock Performance: Slither (Velvet Revolver)

Best Metal Performance: Whiplash (Motorhead)

Best Rock Instrumental Performance: Mrs. O'Leary's Cow (Brian Wilson)

Best Rock Song: Vertigo (U2)

Best Rock Album: American Idiot (Green Day)

Best Alternative Music Album:  A Ghost Is Born (Wilco)

Best Female R&B Vocal Performance: If I Ain't Got You (Alicia Keys)

Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: Call My Name (Prince)

Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: My Boo (Usher & Alicia Keys)

Best Traditional R&B Performance: Musicology (Prince)

Best Urban/Alternative Performance: Cross My Mind (Jill Scott)

Best R&B Song: You Don't Know My Name (Alicia Keys)

Best R&B Album: The Diary of Alicia Keys (Alicia Keys)

Best Contemporary R&B Album: Confessions (Usher)

Best Rap Solo Performance: 99 Problems (Jay-Z)

Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: Let's Get It Started (The Black-Eyed Peas)

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Yeah! (Usher featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris)

Best Rap Song: Jesus Walks (Kanye West)

Best Rap Album: The College Dropout (Kanye West)

Best Female Country Vocal Performance: Redneck Woman (Gretchen Wilson)

Best Male Country Vocal Performance: Live Like You Were Dying (Tim McGraw)

Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: Top of the World (Dixie Chicks)

Best Country Collaboration with Vocals: Portland Oregon (Loretta Lynn & Jack White)

Best Country Instrumental Performance: Earl's Breakdown (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band featuring Earl Scruggs, Randy Scruggs, Vassar Clements, & Jerry Douglas)

Best Country Song: Live Like You Were Dying (Tim McGraw)

Best Country Album: Van Lear Rose (Loretta Lynn)

Best Bluegrass Album: Brand New Strings (Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder)

Best New Age Album: Returning (Will Ackerman)

Best Contemporary Jazz Album: Unspeakable (Bill Frisell)

Best Jazz Vocal Album: R.S.V.P.- Rare Songs, Very Personal (Nancy Wilson)

Best Jazz Instrumental Solo: Speak Like a Child, Herbie Hancock - soloist (Harvey Mason)

Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group: Illuminations (McCoy Tyner with Gary Bartz, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride, & Lewis Nash)

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album: Concert in the Garden (Maria Schneider Orchestra)

Best Latin Jazz Album: Land of the Sun (Charlie Haden)

Best Gospel Performance: Heaven Help Us All (Ray Charles & Gladys Knight)

Best Rock Gospel Album: Wire (Third Day)

Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album: All Things New (Steven Curtis Chapman)

Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel AlbumWorshop & Faith (Randy Travis)

Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album: There Will Be a Light (Ben Harper & The Blind Boys of Alabama)

Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album: Nothing without You (Smokie Norful)

Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album: Live...This Is Your House (Carol Cymbala & The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir)

Best Latin Pop Album: Amar Sin Mentiras (Marc Anthony)

Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album: Street Signs (Ozomatli)

Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album: Ahora Si! (Israel Lopez "Cachao")

Best Salsa/Merengue Album: Across 110th Street (Spanish Harlem Orchestra featuring Ruben Blades)

Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album: Intimamente (Intocable)

Best Tejano Album: Polkas, Gritos y Acordeones (David Lee Garza, Joel Guzman, & Sunny Sauceda)

Best Traditional Blues Album: Blues to the Bone (Etta James)

Best Contemporary Blues Album: Keep It Simple (Keb' Mo')

Best Traditional Folk Album: Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster (Various Artists)

Best Contemporary Folk Album: The Revolution Starts...Now (Steve Earle)

Best Native American Music Album: Cedar Dream Songs (Bill Miller)

Best Hawaiian Music Album: Slack Key Guitar, Volume 2 (Various Artists)

Best Reggae Album: True Love (Toots & The Maytals)

Best Traditional World Music Album: Raise Your Spirit Higher (Ladysmith Black Mambazo)

Best Contemporary World Music Album: Egypt (Youssou N'Dour)

Best Polka Album: Let's Kiss: 25th Anniversary Album (Brave Combo)

Best Musical Album for Children: cELLAbration! A Tribute to Ella Jenkins (Various Artists)

Best Spoken Word Album for Children: The Train They Call the City of New Orleans (Tom Chapin)

Best Spoken Word Album: My Life (Bill Clinton)

Best Comedy Album: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents...America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction (Jon Stewart and the Cast of the Daily Show)

Best Musical Show Album: Wicked (Broadway Cast Recording)

Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion picture, Television or Other Visual Media: Garden State (Various Artists)

Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media: The Lord of the Rings-Return of the King (Howard Shore)

Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media: Into the West (Annie Lennox)

Best Instrumental Composition: Merengue (Paquito D'Rivera for Yo-Yo Ma)

Best Instrumental Arrangement: Past, Present & Future (Slide Hampton for the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra)

Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist: Over the Rainbow (Victor Vanacore for Ray Charles & Johnny Mathis)

Best Recording Package: A Ghost Is Born (Peter Buchanan-Smith & Dan Nadel for Wilco)

Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: Once in a Lifetime (Stefan Sagmeister for Talking Heads)

Best Album Notes: The Complete Columbia Recordings of Woody Herman and His Orchestra & Woodchoppers (1945-1947) (Loren Schoenberg for Woody Herman & His Orchestra)

Best Historical Album: Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970 (Daniel Cooper & Michael Gray for a Various Artists set)

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical: Genius Love Company (Robert Fernandez, John Harris, Terry Howard, Pete Karam, Joel Moss, Seth Presant, Al Schmitt, & Ed Thacker for Ray Charles & Various Artists)

Producer of the Year: John Shanks for albums by Ashlee Simpson, Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow, Hilary Duff, Robbie Robertson, and Alanis Morissette

Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical: It's My Life (Jacques Lu Cont)

Best Surround Sound Album: Genius Love Company (Al Schmitt, Robert Hadley, Doug Sax, John Burk, Phil Ramone, and Herbert Waltl for Ray Charles & Various Artists)

Best Engineered Album, Classical: Higdon: City Scape; Concerto for Orchestra (Jack Renner for Robert Spano)

Producer of the Year, Classical: David Frost

Best Classical Album: Adams: On the Transmigration of Souls (Lorin Maazel conducting the Brooklyn Youth Chorus & New York Choral Artists with the New York Philharmonic)

Best Orchestral Performance: Adams: On the Transmigration of Souls (Lorin Maazel conducting the Brooklyn Youth Chorus & New York Choral Artists with the New York Philharmonic)

Best Opera Recording: Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (Rene Jacobs conducting Various Artists; Concerto Koln)

Best Choral Performance: Berlioz: Requiem (Robert Spano conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra)

Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra): Previn: Violin Concerto "Anne-Sophie"/Bernstein: Serenade (Andre Previn conducting Anne-Sophie Mutter with the Boston Symphony and London Symphony Orchestras)

Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra): Aire Latino (David Russell on guitar)

Best Chamber Music Performance: Prokofiev: Cinderella: Suite for Two Pianos/Ravel: Ma Mere L'Oye (Martha Argerich and Mikhail Pletnev)

Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without Conductor): Carlos Chavez: Complete Chamber Music, Volume 2 (Jeff von der Schmidt conducting Southwest Chamber Music)

Best Classical Vocal Performance: Ives: Songs (Susan Graham, mezzo soprano)

Best Classical Contemporary Cmoposition: Adams: On the Transmigration of Souls (Lorin Maazel conducting the Brooklyn Youth Chorus & New York Choral Artists with the New York Philharmonic)

Best Classical Crossover Album: LAGQ's Guitar Heroes (Los Angeles Guitar Quartet)

Best Short Form Music Video: Vertigo (U2)

Best Long Form Music Video: Concert for George (Various Artists)

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Of Further Interest...

48th Annual Grammy Awards: Commentary, Nominees, and Winners (2006)

49th Annual Grammy Awards: Commentary, Nominees, and Winners (2007)

51st Annual Grammy Awards: Commentary, Nominees, and Winners (2009)

52nd Annual Grammy Awards: Commentary, Nominees, and Winners (2010)

53rd Annual Grammy Awards: Commentary, Nominees, and Winners (2011)

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