The 48th Annual Grammy Awards were a rock revival for U2, a fizzled comeback party for Mariah Carey and a bizarre return to the real world for Sly Stone, the funk icon who emerged from the hermit's life with a shiny suit and a towering bleached white mohawk.
Irish rock band U2 won five Grammys on Wednesday night, including album of the year for "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" and song of the year for "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own." "Dismantle" was competing with collections from Kanye West, Paul McCartney, Gwen Stefani and Carey. Carey won three awards but didn't hear her name in the major categories after earning eight nominations -- a disappointment considering that her "The Emancipation of Mimi" was the bestselling CD of 2005 and a stunning rescue of her foundering career.
In his acceptance speech, U2 lead singer Bono did a roll call of the other nominees.
"This is our second 'album of the year,' but we've lost two, 'Achtung Baby' and 'All That You Can't Leave Behind,' so we know how it feels -- Kanye, you're next," Bono said. "And he's a great artist, being on the road with us. Extraordinary. To be in the company of Paul McCartney, who discovered the country that we're all living in, is a true honor indeed. Yes, sir. Mariah, you sing like an angel, really something else.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday February 10, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 67 words Type of Material: Correction
Grammy Awards -- Thursday's front-page article about the Grammy Awards said that, after his performance, Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart "didn't come back on stage" but that other members of the Family Stone did. The sentence should have stated that Stone did not come backstage to the press area. The article also referred to a Madonna performance of the song "Hang Up." The song's title is "Hung Up."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday February 10, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 51 words Type of Material: Correction
New Orleans tribute -- In some editions of Thursday's Times, the caption on a front-page photograph of musicians performing a tribute to New Orleans at the Grammy Awards misidentified the singer on the far left as Allen Toussaint. Toussaint did perform in the finale, but the musician shown was Sam Moore.
"And what about Gwen? This is the heart of Hollywood. She's like Carole Lombard, she's this extraordinary girl."
West, whom many see as a cutting-edge figure in hip-hop, also came into the night with eight nominations. His "Late Registration" was a favorite of critics and, after his surprise loss last year to Maroon 5 for the title of best new artist, many observers thought he would walk away with an armful of awards Wednesday during the Staples Center show. While performing "Gold Digger" with Jamie Foxx, West even made a sly joke about the expectations.
"I've been here two years in a row, and if I don't win it's fixing to be a problem," the 28-year-old said, dressed as a drum major during an elaborate marching-band sequence for "Gold Digger." (Which, in deference to the sensibilities of CBS censors, was performed without the racial epithet usually in its chorus.)
West did win for rap album, and his protege, John Legend, took the coveted trophy for new artist and two other awards in R&B categories. A beaming West watched Legend on stage as he held aloft the award and thanked a long list of supporters for his major-label debut album, "Get Lifted."
The CBS broadcast had moments of intrigue that didn't require the opening of envelopes. Bruce Springsteen performed his ominous war song "Devils & Dust" and punctuated it with a yelp of protest: "Bring them home." McCartney performed his newer music, but he also returned to the Beatles songbook with an incandescent version of "Helter Skelter" and, later, a version of "Yesterday" that was meshed with a performance by L.A. rock band Linkin Park and rapper Jay-Z.
Then there was the matter of Sly Stone, the eccentric music hero who had not made a major public appearance in 13 years. Stone's music was the subject of an all-star medley at the center of the show and, for Grammy producers, there was more than a little anxiety in recent weeks about whether Stone would actually show up for the segment.
He did indeed appear. With one hand in a cast and barely acknowledging the other artists on stage, Stone chugged through a clipped version of "I Want to Take You Higher," and then, just like that, he was gone again.
Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart didn't come back on stage, of course, but other members of the Family Stone did, and promised there will be more to come from the group and their leader, though in typically vague terms. "There's some stuff that you haven't heard yet, and Sly has evolved and it's great," said original member Freddie Stewart, Sly's brother.
U2's win was the first time a rock band has claimed the best album award since 2001, when Steely Dan was the surprise pick for its CD "Two Against Nature" -- and that jazz-leaning duo is hardly the classic rock prototype. The bounty of awards Wednesday brought the Irish rock veterans' career total of Grammys to 22. Steve Lillywhite, a key studio figure in "Dismantle," won producer-of-the-year honors.
Green Day, the Bay Area pop punk band, took record-of-the-year honors for its pulsing, forlorn hit "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," off its "American Idiot" collection, an album that already had earned a Grammy last year for rock album.
Country and bluegrass singer Alison Krauss and her band Union Station won in three categories, including best country album for "Lonely Runs Both Ways" and may be needing a closet for her gramophone statuettes -- her career total is now 20, the most by any woman and seventh overall among all-time winners.