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And the award goes to…

Mary Squillace | Tuesday, February 14, 2006

‘Tis the season to be Joan Rivers. Marked by a parade of Escada, Prada and Chanel, countless specials on E! and, of course, the red carpet award ceremony season, 2006 is officially underway.

The Oscars, Golden Globes and even the Screen Actors Guild Awards offer us a glimpse into the glamorous lives of our favorite celebrities as they pay tribute to the previous year’s most talented actors.

As the king of all award shows, the Oscars dictates to us which films we should have enjoyed. Alternatively, the Golden Globes offers us the city recreational league of film and television award shows, in that even the competitors who don’t quite have what it takes to make the varsity squad get a chance to vie for shiny gold hardware. And the Screen Actors Guild forces us to look at acting as an art.

However, regardless of the differences between these programs, after awhile they all blend together, each star becoming a beaming, faceless mass in a Versace gown. Instead, the award for best award show has to go to the Grammys – a slightly edgier and eclectic presentation.

Sure, the Golden Globes effectively brings together film-buffs and couch-potatoes alike, but the Grammy Awards deliver real diversity, uniting NASCAR-watching Toby Keith fans and teenaged girls holding their breath for a Maroon 5 victory under the same three-hour block of television.

The Grammy Awards’ stage in itself is a melting pot. For years it has drawn artists together for collaborations that have transcended age, race and style. In fact, the vibes of euphoria on this stage are so strong that they even once moved Eminem to extend his hand to Elton John in the name of music, and, oh yeah, publicity.

The stage is a place where acts with questionable stay-power, like Linkin Park, can earn credibility by performing with the legendary Paul McCartney and industry mogul, Jay-Z. Conversely, the Grammy stage also gives stars on the verge of washing up a chance to prove that they have yet to kick the entertainment-biz bucket by pairing up with hipper, trendier acts.

In the past, Madonna’s Grammy performance filled her with such a sense of effervescence that she took part in that unforgettable sorority-girl stunt where she locked lips with performer Britney Spears. This same youthful feeling must have inspired Madonna again during last week’s 2006 awards, compelling her to don a leotard.

The Grammy’s wide range of nominees and award recipients also lends itself to a number of Cinderella stories. Take Kelly Clarkson, who, despite her recent success, still appears as star-struck as her own screaming fans. And while Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt probably had no idea who the girl sobbing at the podium was, they probably still can’t get “Since You’ve Been Gone” out of their heads.

Although Kelly represents a touching rags-to-riches story, this year’s true Grammy miracle was Mariah Carey’s resurrection. Her sanity may not yet be fully intact, but it appears that Mariah’s career is back on track, and she has eight Grammy nominations to show for it. Now she only has to garner about four more awards and find a cure for cancer before she fully redeems herself for subjecting us all to “Glitter.”

Additionally, unlike the recipients of Oscar, Golden Globe, or SAG awards – for the most part – Grammy award recipients have no formal acting training. Furthermore, they deserve extra recognition for their efforts in trying to convey a careful balance between elation and gratitude during acceptance speeches. To add to their challenge, recording artists also have to preserve their deviant musician reputations by saying something radical – typically, approaches that promote a political cause or are completely self-promoting work.

Not to mention, regardless of seat assignment – which could place someone anywhere from sandwiched between Eminem’s entourage or next to this year’s nominee’s for best New Age album (who has a Grandparent-esque understanding of songs like “Gold Digger”) – artists have to maintain those made-for-TV smiles while seated. After all, no one wants to appear on the Grammy big screen broadcast with a gigantic grimace.

So while we may be knee-deep in the fanfare of award shows with the Oscars just around the corner, don’t expect the others to live up to the antics that the Grammy’s and its collection of eccentric performers brought last week.

Contact Mary Squillace at msquilla@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.