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“‘Not Ready to Make Nice’ is as powerful a statement of an artist's independence as we have heard in many years.”
——Lenny Beer

TWO HANDICAPPED GUYS HANDICAP THE GRAMMYS

HITS Losers Beer and Trakin Give Their Two Cents, Which Is About What It’s Worth
The 49th Annual Grammy Awards are on this Sunday night from L.A.’s Staples Center, and speculation is rife that the event could see Academy voters “Ready to Make Nice” to the Dixie Chicks, who were abandoned by their country constituency after Natalie Maines’ critical remarks about the President several years ago. The group is up for all three major awards, and a win in any or all of them would make for an interesting referendum on the Bush presidency and a possible make-up call for the way they were treated, with country radio boycotting the single and several major stations refusing to accept advertising for the tour. HITS’ resident pundits Lenny Beer and Roy Trakin hold forth on this and other issues as they ponder the possible results.

Trakin: You still feeling the Dixie Chicks this weekend? I know you were a coupla months ago...
Beer: It has to be. It is time for NARAS to make a musical and political statement....
Trakin: Let's go category by category... The Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice" seems a lock for Record of the Year. The only competition, it seems to me, is "Put Your Records On." Corinne has some momentum going in.
Beer: All five records are excellent, they are all deserving, but I'm taking the Chicks.
Trakin: Ya know, though, I'm feeling Justin Timberlake in Album of the Year… He's all over the Grammy Awards this year. There must be some quid pro quo in that.
Beer: Justin is an amazing talent, and once again the choices are all strong.... I'm taking the Chicks, though.
Trakin: I don't see either Gnarls, Mayer or Chili Peppers taking this category... It's between Chicks and Justin.
Beer: One never knows… Mayer surprised in Song of the Year last year, but I'm still taking the Chicks for Album.
Trakin: So you're leaning towards a Dixie Chicks sweep in the major categories. You believe they'll beat Blige, Carrie Underwood, Corinne and Blunt for Song of the Year, too?
Beer: I think Blunt is a major contender here... His song was an amazing moment...but I feel that Chicks-Chicks-Chicks is the beat.
Trakin: Last few years, these awards were spread around a little... But a Dixie Chicks triple play would certainly be a strong political statement, at the least.
Beer: The song was blackballed at Country radio and their tour advertising was banned at stations all across the country... C'mon, someone has to stand up. And “Not Ready to Make Nice” is as powerful a statement of an artist's independence as we have heard in many years.
Trakin: And who better to make a statement than Grammy voters? How about Best New Artist? I'm leaning towards Carrie Underwood, with Corinne Bailey Rae the possible upset. And James Blunt the dark horse.
Beer: I'll take Ms. Bailey Rae in the upset. There are always surprises in this category historically.
Trakin: She's got some major visibility... Did you know she did the soundtrack to the movie Venus? It was good... I mean, her songs.
Beer: I actually saw that horrendous movie, but I loved the music. In a normal year, Blunt and Rae would win lots of awards, but this year will be tough.
Trakin: Going by rule of thumb if you get a general award, you win in the genre category, it’s gotta be Chili Peppers in Rock, over Raconteurs, Petty, Dylan and Neil Young, no? Or does Bobby Z. carry the day here?
Beer: Dylan vs. Peppers—call it a toss-up.
Trakin: Coldplay, The Fray, Raconteurs, Chili Peppers, U2/Green Day for Duo or Group w/Vocal. To stick with the political theme, does U2/Green Day's Katrina benefit single sneak in? Or do Chili Peppers maintain the chalk?
Beer: Hmmm… I'll take Coldplay.
Trakin: I'm picking Chili Peppers in Rock, U2/Green Day for Rock Duo or Group... How about Rock Solo Vocal performance? Beck, Dylan, Mayer, Petty, Neil Young... I'm tapping Dylan for his Grammy on this one.
Beer: Two for Dylan.
Trakin: Rick Rubin appears the lock for Producer of the Year, with Timbaland being a notable omission.
Beer: Rubin's Red Hot...
Trakin: Will.i.am, Howard Benson, T Bone Burnett and Danger Mouse are the other nominees.
Beer: Rubin in a rout…
Trakin: Any performances you're looking forward to Sunday night? Any predictions for star-making turns?
Beer: I think Corinne's fan base will grow. I’m also curious about The Police opening.
Trakin: The Police is a must-see, for sure. Corinne Bailey Rae could be someone that gets traction from Grammy night.... Although she's not exactly a dynamic performer in the traditional sense.
Beer: She has magic, and when more people see her, more people will buy-buy-buy… Look what happened when she went on Oprah… Kaboom
Trakin: The Police will be a preview for a summer tour.
Beer: Just like Prince...
Trakin: Wonder if anything Grammy night can match the excitement Prince seemed to generate at the Super Bowl... Where have all the larger-than-life superstars gone?
Beer: We'll see, the pressure is squarely on Ken Ehrlich and his team to deliver...
Trakin: That's for sure... With a Super Bowl lead-in, ratings should be up, I would hope.
Beer: And of course, Neil Portnow's speech should rock the hey-ouse…
Trakin: What's the over/under on Portnow's speech before you head to the bathroom? 1:30?
Beer: 2:30
Trakin: Speaking of scintillating... You like Eddie Blazonczyk's Versatones or Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra for the Polka award?
Beer: Always Jimmy Sturr
Trakin: Anything else you'll be looking for Grammy night?
Beer: My pillow…
Trakin: Niiiiiice... I do wish Borat would show up. Nude wrestling might do wonders for the ratings. It would be kinda neat if this year's show turned out to be a referendum on the Bush presidency, though...
Beer: My point exactly. CHICKS-CHICKS-CHICKS
Trakin: You ain't just whistlin' Dixie, are ya?
Beer: OY
Trakin: Like Bogie told Bacall, just put your lips together and blow...

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