Green Day Tone Down, Tributes Shine at Grammys

By | February 14, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Los Angeles – The 47th Annual Grammys on Sunday were long on tributes and short on controversy thanks to a self-censored performance by punk trio Green Day and Sheryl Crow ‘s peek-a-boo yellow gown, which covered just enough.

The Grammys were carried live on CBS, the same network that drew fire and regulatory fines following Janet Jackson ‘s now-infamous “wardrobe malfunction” at last year’s Super Bowl.

So Green Day’s performance of the group’s title song from its Grammy-winning and politically charged “American Idiot” was a potential flashpoint for controversy.

But in a move apparently aimed to beat network censors, lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong swallowed an obscenity during the song, a rant against the media and complacency.

“Rock and roll can be dangerous and fun at the same time,” said Armstrong, sporting heavy mascara and a pin-striped suit, as the band picked up their Grammy for best rock album.

A big moment was an emotional duet by English newcomer Joss Stone and Melissa Etheridge, whose bald head was testament to her struggle with breast cancer. The two performed Janis Joplin ‘s “Piece of My Heart” while the brother and sister of the late blues balladeer cheered from the audience.

A spokesman for the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which awards the Grammys, said CBS had the usual five to 10 second delays in place for its broadcast, but had not taken any special steps to censor performers.

“Frankly we feel the people have seen the tolerance level and they know what they can get away with,” said Grammys’ spokesman Ron Roecker.

The Grammys have also been the venue of choice for edgy and sometimes flesh-baring fashion, most notably the navel-baring gown worn by Jennifer Lopez at the 2000 Grammys.

The only distant echo on Sunday was Crow’s dress, which she wore onstage with cycling champion boyfriend Lance Armstrong, joking it was made from one of his Tour de France jerseys.

Otherwise, the awards showcased some of the night’s biggest winners, including Alicia Keys, Kanye West and Usher, and paid tribute to the late Ray Charles, whose album of duets was honored with eight Grammys.

In an example of how the music industry has moved to embrace digital distribution, stars gathered to perform a rendition of the Beatles’ “Across the Universe.”

U2’s Bono, country singer Tim McGraw, Aerosmith ‘s Steven Tyler, Keys, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder and others were among those who participated.

“I think we did an interesting and inspiring rendition,” Velvet Revolver’s Scott Weiland said backstage.

The Grammys also featured a melodramatic duet in Spanish by Jennifer Lopez and her Grammy-winning husband Marc Anthony.

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