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THE 39TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS

Backstage: Beck Had Room for More

February 27, 1997|ELYSA GARDNER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NEW YORK — Beck, who won trophies for male rock vocal performance and alternative music performance, was charming, funny and totally lacking in attitude backstage, looking great in his black suit and blue tie.

"This is the first time I've been at the Grammys," he said. "Playing in something like this, it's cool. It felt very alien, but I dug it."

Asked if he thought he would also win album of the year, Beck said, "I was ready. I had room in my suitcase."

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Fashion Tips, Part 1: Addressing the backstage press, Sheryl Crow, winner of best rock album for her "Sheryl Crow," had a bone to pick with the media regarding the attention to the physical appearance of female performers.

"People get bogged down with how you look," said Crow, wearing a tight, black, shear, low-cut dress.

Regarding her own attempts to alter her visual persona in recent months, Crow pointed out: "John Lennon changed his look every five minutes."

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Next Year, Yankee Stadium: Recording academy President Mike Greene was enthusiastic about the first Grammy Awards show held in an arena-sized setting.

"We've been trying to figure out how to work in an arena for years. I think it was a roaring success."

But he was noncommittal about future shows, preferring to wait and see the results of TV ratings and two planned focus group studies.

"Until tomorrow and the week ensuing I don't think we'll have a good idea as to whether this was emotionally successful."

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Mr. Politic: After last year's domination by challenging youngster Alanis Morissette, Greene found himself back in the familiar position of being challenged about supposed Grammy conservatism, symbolized by the best album victory of pop chanteuse Celine Dion. On one hand, he pointed to the wins of Beck and the Smashing Pumpkins as signs of progress.

And he was quick to defend Dion's win for album of the year: "After hearing her sing here tonight I don't think anyone could doubt that she's our preeminent pop vocalist."

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Her Hipness: Dion, told later of Greene's praise, demurred. "I don't think that's true," she said. "I still feel like a little girl. I see myself on the kitchen table, performing for my brothers and sisters."

When asked if she felt vindicated by the Grammy, one of her producers, David Foster, stepped in to answer. "There couldn't be any vindication. Her career has been a steady climb," he sniffed.

Dion acknowledged that she is not considered hip alongside many rock and rap artists, "But I sing love songs and I sing from the heart. That's hip to me."

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Youth Is Served: How does a 14-year-old, three-time Grammy winner celebrate?

"We're going out to dinner," said LeAnn Rimes backstage after winning the best new artist award. (Her hit "Blue" also won for female country vocal performance and country song.) "I guess that's about all I can do right now."

Rimes, though looking pale and innocent in a pastel blue dress, worked the room like you'd expect from someone twice her age. She said the new artist award was a big surprise for her and she thought No Doubt was a sure thing. But she pointed out: "I'm one of the only country artists ever to be nominated for the category, and the only one to win."

But she revealed a youthful perspective and penchant for grand acclamations, declaring Celine Dion "one of the best singers that ever walked."

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Rock Genetics 101: Jakob Dylan was announced backstage, but the press was told he'd only answer two questions, to which one journalist retorted, "That's two more than his father would."

Perhaps not to overshadow his pop, young Dylan never showed.

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Where's Pete Best When You Need Him?: David Foster, in a pre-ceremony announcing the Beatles' award: "John, Paul, George, Ringo--come on up!"

No one did.

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