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The 37th Annual Grammy Awards : Hear 'Em and Weep : Pop / Rock : Bruce Springsteen deserves honors for his song about a sad societal reality, but Sheryl Crow's win for record of the year, and a few other choices, are just plain sad.

March 02, 1995|ROBERT HILBURN | TIMES POP MUSIC CRITIC

"I can't believe this," Tony Bennett said, accepting his Grammy for best album Wednesday night. "I really don't believe this."

*

For much of the night, he wasn't alone.

Time and again as winners were announced during the three-hour ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium, it was hard to believe what we were hearing.

Bennett was a gracious winner, but his "MTV Unplugged" wasn't the best album of the year.

Sheryl Crow was nicely appreciative, but her single, "All I Wanna Do," was in no way the best record of the year.

It was nice to see the Rolling Stones win their first Grammy, but "Voodoo Lounge" was merely an affectionate tip of the hat to the group's own roots--not the best rock album of the year, not when R.E.M.'s "Monster" and Neil Young's "Sleeps With Angels" were in the running.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday March 3, 1995 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 4 Entertainment Desk 2 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Grammy winner-- Because of incorrect information provided to The Times, Thursday's list of Grammy recipients included the wrong winner in the production category for best engineered album, non-classical. Ed Cherney won for Bonnie Raitt's "Longing in Their Hearts."

Green Day is an entertaining young rock group, but its "Dookie" album was kid stuff next to the harrowing drama of Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral," which it defeated in the best alternative music category.

Aerosmith is lots of fun, but it's maddening to see its flimsy "Crazy" honored over Nirvana's soul-stirring "All Apologies" in the best rock group performance category.

The scary thing is that it could all have been worse.

When it was time to announce the album of the year winner, you could almost sense the members of the National Academy of Recordings Arts & Sciences cringing in fear--against the possibility of the words "Three Tenors" coming through the speakers and into millions of homes.

If Bennett's victory was just a poor choice in a year in which albums by such bands as Nine Inch Nails, Hole and R.E.M. defined pop music, a "Three Tenors" victory would have been nothing short of a disaster.

Because the academy's voting process is under such widespread attack, the tension at the Grammys is no longer limited to the competition between artists, whose egos and sales can be bolstered by victories.

On Wednesday, the main anxiety was among Grammy voters concerned about their own credibility.

It's no longer a matter of just critics, musicians and a growing segment of the pop audience grumbling about the Grammys' continuing tendency to favor mainstream bestsellers over challenging forces. Industry executives are speaking out publicly in favor of voting reform.

Nothing happened Wednesday to lessen that discontent.

At times during the telecast, you got the idea that Bruce Springsteen was the only thing between the academy and total embarrassment.

And the academy knew it. The ceremony seemed to cling to Springsteen like a life raft. If he had been eligible in 40 categories, he would probably have won in 35 of them.

Here's someone who came into the competition with an Oscar for his Grammy-nominated song "Streets of Philadelphia" and two decades of almost unprecedented critical acclaim.

Within 15 seconds of the start of the show, he was stepping from the shadows to sing "Streets of Philadelphia," the tender reflections of a man struggling with AIDS. Five minutes later, he was back on stage to accept the first of his four awards.

Everyone in the Western world fully expected to see him back at the podium to accept the best record award at the end of the evening.

But it tells you how haywire the Grammy voting is that Springsteen lost to Crow. She's a spunky singer, but there's no way "All I Wanna Do" deserves to win anything short of a Rickie Lee Jones sound-alike contest.

We hear you, Tony.

Top Awards Album of the Year

"MTV Unplugged"

Tony Bennett and David Kahne

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Record of the Year

"All I Wanna Do"

Sheryl Crow and Bill Bottrell

*

Song of the Year

"Streets of Philadelphia"

Bruce Springsteen

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New Artist

Sheryl Crow

*

Female Pop Vocal

"All I Wanna Do"

Sheryl Crow

*

Male Pop Vocal

"Can You Feel the Love Tonight"

Elton John

*

Male Rock Vocal

"Streets of Philadelphia"

Bruce Springsteen

*

Female Rock Vocal

"Come to My Window"

Melissa Etheridge

*

Rock Song

"Streets of Philadelphia"

Bruce Springsteen

*

Country Song

"I Swear"

Gary Baker and Frank J. Myers

*

R&B Song

"I'll Make Love to You"

Babyface

Big Winners Bruce Springsteen: 4

Sheryl Crow : 3

Chicago Symphony: 3

Babyface: 2

Tony Bennett: 2

Pierre Boulez: 2

Boyz II Men: 2

Mary Chapin Carpenter: 2

Andrae Crouch: 2

Lyle Lovett: 2

The Rolling Stones: 2

Soundgarden: 2

Complete list of winners, F10

Robert Hilburn's Grammy report, A1

Grammy Vocies Bruce Springsteen,

after winning song of the year:

"I'd like to thank all those disparaged and mysterious Grammy voters out there, wherever you are, whoever you are."

Mike Greene,

president of the National Academy

of Recording Arts & Sciences:

"We must not allow the arts to be politicized, privatized, commercialized, sanitized, neutralized or zeroed-out."

Bonnie Raitt,

describing Tony Bennett:

"The coolest guy on the planet. . . . There's the Pope--that's the only one left (to top that)."

Henry Rollins,

after beating both the Bible

and Shakespeare in the spoken-

word category:

"Imagine seeing someone like me in a place like this, getting something like this. . . . I'll keep it short because you're bored to tears like I am."

Paul Reiser,

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