Blowing them away: Best Country Song awarded to Carrie Underwood, a beacon of class
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013
2/11/13 at 9:54 AM
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Original Print Headline: Blowing them away
Carrie Underwood fared well at the 55th Grammy Awards - she was the only Oklahoman to win big at Sunday's gala.
"To me, the Grammys equal music," said host LL Cool J, a two-time Grammy winner.
Well, mostly. And pomp.
He also said songs are "dreams come true." Always. Especially on Grammy night.
Carrie Underwood's tune "Blown Away," written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, won the Grammy award for Best Country Song. It also won Best Country Solo Performance.
"I thank the good lord that I am part of such an amazing, supportive family," Underwood said. She thanked her husband, too, before saying "Glory to God!" She kept her speech short, on the verge of tears.
Her humility was offset by the whopper around her neck. Underwood hit the stage in a whopping $31 million (that's no typo) of Johnathon Arndt Diamonds. That's 381 carats of bling. Mind-boggling, really, but no shock to those familiar with the grandiose tradition of country music wardrobe fare, originally made famous (and oh-so-gaudy) by Nudie Cohn and his next-generation designer Manuel. The massive neckpiece was breathtaking and anything but modest.
The solo category set her against fellow Okies Ronnie Dunn and Blake Shelton, as well as Dierks Bentley, Hunter Hayes and Eric Church. A heavy-hitter category, for sure.
Like Underwood's seemingly double-edged modesty, the night is one of off-kilter kudos and back-slapping. Most of the players knew the score before the game began on Sunday, as the majority of awards are announced pre-show. By airtime, newcomer and Oklahoma native John Fullbright had lost the Best Americana Album award to Bonnie Raitt. A Facebook post showed the two together, smiling.
"Hey, it's OK. It's *Bonnie*. Next time, right? ;-)" he wrote. No hard feelings, obviously. He wasn't the only gracious loser. Blake Shelton, Vince Gill & his Time Jumpers band, St. Vincent, Ronnie Dunn ... and Woody Guthrie lost one, and won one. He took home a posthumous prize for Box Set or Special Limited Edition.
A two-time Grammy winner for the night, Taylor Swift's live vocals still grate on me like a runner-up of a high school talent show. Except, you know, she's a totally, like, majorly-super-famous pop star. What she lacks in vocal fortitude she makes up for in showmanship. Her "Alice In Wonderland" opening was otherworldly. It's just that it took a cast of three dozen to carry her. However, Underwood's performance of "Blown Away" was stark in comparison, as a dozen backed her with surprising restraint, Underwood's vocals powerful at center-stage.
At the opposite end, Maroon 5 and Alicia Keys performed "This Girl is on Fire," a song the woman's played on every awards show, major sports event and the presidential inauguration, but her energy is infectious, her skill undeniable, her confidence reassuring. ... No clowns swinging from the ceiling or breathless dance moves or hotpants.
Then ricochet back to classless. When Frank Ocean beat Chris Brown for Best Urban Contemporary Album, Brown and his entourage were the only audience members that remained seated. How so many egos fit into one broadcast without spontaneously combusting must be some feat of seat planning, back-stage gerrymandering and creative crowd control.
Oklahoma's Miranda Lambert paired with Dierks Bentley for two songs, "Over You" and "Home." Introduced by 10-time Grammy winner Bonnie Raitt (who took home No. 10 on Sunday), she credited the pair with keeping country current and important.
Lambert, backed by a staggering nine-piece backing band that included timpani drums, doghouse bass, acoustic and electric guitars and steel guitar, the pair did sound remarkably current and old-school at once. She lost her bid for Best Country Album to the Zac Brown Band, and showed her approval as part of a standing ovation for his win.
Kelly Clarkson took the stage with a piano and acoustic guitarist to pay tribute to Oklahoman Patti Page, who won a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award. Clarkson's "Tennessee Waltz" was bittersweet in its perfection and simplicity. The future daughter-in-law of Oklahoman Reba McEntire stole the show with her truly demure acceptance speech after her win for Best Pop Vocal Album, after getting hung-up in Miranda Lambert's bedazzled dress during a pre-stage hug.
A pleasant surprise of the night was the double Grammy win for garage rocker The Black Keys, underdressed and understated, they gave short-and-sweet thank-yous to their fans. A performance of "Lonely Boy" was raucous with Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans - and a standing ovation.
They looked as shocked as the audience did when they took the stage.
Presenter Dave Grohl kissed them as they took the podium.
Pared down but packed with punch, Jack White owned the stage in a Nudie Cohn-inspired peacock feather sequined suit by couture designer Manuel and straight-up, stripped-down rock 'n' roll. With a devil's fiddle and silver-plated doghouse bass.
Oklahoma didn't walk away with the most awards on Sunday, but it did bring class, talent and manners.
Lights are projected onto Carrie Underwood's dress as she performs during the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday. JOHN SHEARER / Invision / AP
Recording artists Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley perform at the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday in Los Angeles. JOHN SHEARER / Invision / Associated Press