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Grammy Awards winners: Sentiment prevails over artistry . . . again

February 8, 2009 | 11:02 pm

Well, the Grammy Awards played out mostly as expected, with one twist. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss bagged the Grammy for best album of the year ("Raising Sand") on cue, but — surprise — also best record ("Please Read the Letter"), a category widely forecast to go to Coldplay, which won best song for "Viva La Vida." Plant/Krauss weren't nominated in that Grammy race, but probably would've snagged that if they'd made the list.

Plant and Krauss were a Grammy juggernaut that couldn't be stopped, going undefeated with their three additional nominations: pop collaboration with vocals, country collaboration and best contemporary folk/Americana album.

Adding five new Grammys to her previous tally, Alison Krauss now has 26, which is one less than Quincy Jones and five shy of the all-time record held by Sir Georg Solti (31), former conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

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The sad thing about their sweep is that it gives us one more record of the year that really wasn't the record of the year. While "Please Read the Letter" is a nice enough tune, sure, it's probably going to be filed under other obscure best-record champs as "Here We Go Again," which sailed to victory aboard the Ray Charles/ Norah Jones juggernaut at the 2005 Grammys.

We Grammy-watchers weren't the only ones tonight scratchin' our noggins.

"I'd like to say I’m bewildered," Plant said at the end of the Grammy sweep as he clutched the best-album prize. "In the old days we would have called this selling out, but I think it's a good way to spend a Sunday."

Todd Martens of our Pop & Hiss blog wasn't happy about that Grammy victory, sighing, "When it comes to album of the year, always pick old over innovative. With 'Raising Sand,' Robert Plant and Alison Krauss crafted an engrossing and timeless country-influenced album, one that certainly deserved to be rewarded for best contemporary folk album. But album of the year? Not against Radiohead's 'In Rainbows,' an album that took more chances, pairing Radiohead's electronic and studio experimentations with some of the group's warmest songs to date."

Maybe we shouldn't get too riled up by all this, though, knowing how showbiz awards often go. The sentiment behind the Plant/Krauss avalanche was noble and heartfelt, a hug to beloved, enduring artists. It's kind of like "The Departed" winning best picture at the Oscars. No one really thought it was the best flick of 2006, but director Martin Scorsese was overdue for a big industry bear squeeze too.

Poor Jonas Brothers. They were looking so good on stage during their wow-pow duet with Stevie Wonder that I was tempted to sneak into The Envelope's Buzzmeter and switch my prediction for best new artist from Adele. But — whew — I resisted. That category, after all, usually spotlights solo female artists (Amy Winehouse and Carrie Underwood were the last two victors) and the Jonas Brothers had no cross-Grammys support. Best new artist was their solo nomination.

Notable award surprises included Duffy winning best pop album over the Eagles, who were cheated out of a bid for best album of the year for their multi-platinum comeback disc. While there was a lot of sentiment all Grammy night for veteran Plant, the Eagles had to make due with beating a bunch of nobodies for best pop instrumental performance for "I Dreamed There Was No War." While Plant beat Coldplay in the top races, those Eagles veterans couldn't get around Coldplay in the race for best pop group performance, and they even lost rock group performance to Kings of Leon ("Sex on Fire").

My, my, how long ago it seems that the Eagles soared high in Grammy skies by winning record of the year for "Hotel California" (1977). Why was there so much Grammy love for some veterans today but not others, eh?

Speaking of upsets: Rihanna was expected to win, but lost to Daft Punk ("Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"). Another surprise . . .

. . . The Mars Volta ("Wax Simulacra") beat Rob Zombie ("Lords of Salem"), Judas Priest ("Visions") and Motley Crue ("Saints of Los Angeles") for best hard rock performance.

No surprise: Metallica ("My Apocalypse") won best metal performance for a sixth time and Jimmy Sturr won the Jimmy Sturr award— oops, I mean best polka album award — for the 18th time.

Well, I guess my "100% Perfect Grammy Awards Predictions" weren't so perfect, after all! But they were close! See a full list of winners here.

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Photo: Mark Boster / L.A. Times

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