So the Grammy Awards took place last weekend, and happily for people like us who need stuff to write about, they were the most controversial Grammys in years! The ceremony itself was shocking enough, with Herbie Hancock beating out Kanye West for Album Of The Year honors, Kanye refusing to shut up when the exit music started playing during his overlong Best Rap Album acceptance speech, Kid Rock dueting with Keely Smith for no apparent good reason, and visa-challenged trainwreck Amy Winehouse scooping up a surprising five awards.
But the real controversy began after the final trophy was handed out.
First R&B diva Natalie Cole, a past Grammy winner (and past drug addict) herself, criticized the NARAS judges' decision to give so many Grammys to Amy, telling the press, "I don't think she deserved it. I think she needs to get her life together first, and then get the awards later...I don't think she should have won. I think it sends a bad message to our young people who are trying to get into this business, the ones who are trying to do it right and really trying to keep themselves together. We have to stop rewarding bad behavior."
Never mind that Natalie's own bad behavior includes a history of heroin and crack abuse, if her own widely televised Behind The Music confessions are to be believed. And never mind the fact that Natalie's upcoming album is, ironically, titled Forgiveness. And never mind the fact that if the Grammy committee refused to recognize any musician who had a past history of substance abuse or other "bad behavior," then Pat Boone would be getting a Lifetime Achievement Award, greats like Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon would never get their due, and there'd be a whole lot of empty seats at the Staples Center on Grammy night.
So, are you smoking crack again, Natalie? Who even asked you for your opinion on Amy Winehouse in the first place? Sheesh.
Another otherwise commendable soul legend who couldn't resist opening her big, usually talented mouth in the days following the Grammys was Aretha Franklin. Aretha, who performed a fantastic gospel number at Sunday night's Grammys, was apparently annoyed when another Grammy performer, Beyonce, introduced Tina Turner as "The Queen." Apparently there was room for only one Queen at the Grammys, as far as Aretha was concerned...and Aretha believed that royal title was hers and hers alone.
"I am not sure of whose toes I may have stepped on or whose ego I may have bruised between the Grammy writers and Beyonce. However, I dismissed it as a cheap shot for controversy," Aretha griped in a publicist-disseminated, post-Grammy statement.
Hmmm. Funny how Mary J. Blige, who won a joint Best Gospel Performance Grammy with Aretha this year for their duet "Never Gonna Break My Faith," didn't complain herself, despite the fact that she's widely known as the QUEEN Of Hip-Hop Soul. C'mon, Aretha, chill out and show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Tina.
OK, on to this week's other big music competition: American Idol. Simon, Paula, and Randy whittled it down to the final 24 contestants Wednesday night, and some of their casting decisions caused more controversy than Amy, Natalie, and Aretha combined. Not only were a few surefire fan favorites (Josiah Leming, the teary-eyed teen who lives in his car; Kyle Ensley, the geeky aspiring politician) inexplicably cast aside, but some of the contenders who made it through actually have extensive past industry experience, causing message boards to buzz with conspiracy theories about an allegedly fixed competition.
Among the suspicious singers in the Idol season 7 running are Carly Smithson, who was once signed to MCA Records under the name Carly Hennessy; Michael Johns, who used to front the major-label rock band the Rising under the name Michael Lee; onetime Star Search winner David Archuleta; former Boys N Girlz United boyband singer (and Britney Spears's ex-boyfriend!) Robbie Carrico; Cheyenne cast member Jason Castro; Making The Band also-ran Jason Yeager; former Arista Nashville signing Kristy Lee Cook; and Mo'Nique's Fat Chance plus-size beauty pageant winner Joanne Borgella. Poor Josiah and Kyle never had a chance, fat or otherwise, against these pros!
Oh, and going back to the subject of feuds: On/off couple Travis Barker and Shana Moakler finalized their divorce this week; off/off couple Paul McCartney and Heather Mills began finalizing their bitter divorce settlement; and the widow of McCartney bandmate John Lennon, Yoko Ono, filed a petition seeking to prevent singer Lennon Murphy (yes, that's her real name) from calling her band "Lennon." Guys, can't you just give peace a chance?
And finally, in other "controversial" news, Miley Cyrus came under fire from Consumer Reports this week because she and her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, forgot to wear seatbelts while riding in a Range Rover in the Hannah Montana concert movie. Billy Ray quickly issued a damage-control statement about the importance of seatbelt safety, and soon all was forgiven. And you know, in an age when Britney Spears fails to buckle up her own babies in their carseats, Amy Winehouse seems likely to drive her Range Rover into a ditch, and Josiah Leming is likely to live in a Range Rover, this Miley "controversy" seems almost downright quaint.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) Winehouse Wins! - Amy is the biggest victor at the 50th annual Grammy Awards.
2) Idol's 24 Finalists Selected - But fan favorite Josiah Leming is not among them.
3) Aretha Demands R-E-S-P-E-C-T - She claims Beyonce insulted her at the Grammys.
4) Natalie Cole Whines About Winehouse - She claims Amy doesn't deserve her awards.
5) Paul & Heather: "We Can't Work It Out" - The McCartneys head back to divorce court.
6) Meet The Newly Divorced Barkers - Travis and Shana are officially, legally unwed.
7) Miley Cyrus Buckles Under Pressure - She apologizes for not wearing a seatbelt in a vehicular scene of her new movie.
8) Thriller Turns 25 - Is Michael Jackson's landmark album still a thrill, a quarter-century later?
9) Lennon Vs. Lennon - Yoko One wants to stop singer Lennon Murphy from using her own name.
10) Juvenile Detention - Rapper Juvenile is arrested for pot possession.