By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist

Given that it's The Dead Month in sports, I decided to keep a running diary of Wednesday night's Grammys telecast. Why? Honestly, I don't know. Here's what transpired:

U2
U2 is on top of the music world now, but it will be a Devastating Day when Bono and Co. lose their fastball.

8 p.m.: We're coming to you live from the Sports Guy Mansion! I'm joined by an Uncle Ben's frozen dinner (turkey, wild rice and cranberries), a Michelob Lite, some stale breadsticks and a half-pack of Starburst. This baby's running 3½ hours long ... you have to come prepared.

8:01: Things start off with U2 belting out that "Walk On" song. Does it get any better than U2? As if I didn't love those guys enough, they sang "Beautiful Day" at halftime of the Super Bowl this month. I mean, it was a beautiful day. When they lose their fastball, it will be a Devastating Day. And you know it's coming. I hate the thought of them touring 15 years from now, with Bono straining to hit the high notes on "Angel of Harlem." That will kill me.

8:07: Uh-oh ... I only know about half of the people in this "Who's appearing on tonight's show" intro. Am I getting old? I think I'm getting old.

8:09: Host Jon Stewart comes out with an extended "going through the metal detector" bit, which ends with him wearing only boxers. Blah. The nude thing's been done.

8:12: Hey, it's Britney Spears and Matthew Perry, the two celebs who look the most different from week to week! Britney is wearing her B-cup boobs tonight; Matthew is being portrayed by Normal Looking Perry (not Skinny Perry or Fat Perry).

Meanwhile, U2 wins Best Performance by a Rock Group/Duo Grammy for "Stuck in a Moment," which has replaced "I will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan as the depressing song that makes you know that something bad has just happened.

Marmalade
Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Lil' Kim didn't have to spend a whole lot on their wardrobes.

8:20: Whoops! The pilot just turned off the "No Singing Harlots" sign. It's Christina Aguilera, Maya, Lil' Kim and Pink doing their "Moulin Rouge" routine .... gee, I haven't seen this before. What, do they think we don't have MTV? Vooley voo koo shea a vek mee qua ... she qua. There aren't a lot of clothes going on right now. I feel dizzy. What's happening to our society? I'm never having a daughter.

8:25: The Backstreet Boys presenting an award with Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes ... I mean, wow, is this awkward. There's some serious cue card reading here. Can I just tell you how many people e-mailed this week making the "Sarah Hughes looks like the Band Camp girl from 'American Pie' " connection? At least 50. And this one time ... at the Olympics ...

8:27: The Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration goes to ... the Singing Harlots for the "Moulin Rouge" show! Aguilera just jumped up for joy and one of her ribs went flying. That was ugly. By the way, we're on 14:58 and counting with the Backstreet Boys.

8:32: CBS Promo Alert: Beau Bridges has joined "The Agency." That should push it over the top. Apparently, Plan B was William Devane.

Sarah Hughes, Backsteet Boys
Sarah Hughes and the Backstreet Boys wait to see whose 15 minutes will expire first.

8:35: Time for another song: Train singing that catchy "Jupiter" song. These guys are destined for a 2014 appearance on VH1's "One-Hit Wonders." I don't care. Maybe one of five songs that made it big in 2001 that I actually liked. Plus, the lead singer looks like a hipper John Stockton. Tell me, have you ever seen a shooting star ... will we ever have another hit ...

8:40: Man, it hurts to see stars from my childhood like Don Henley these days. It looks as if he's wearing a Don Henley mask. Hey, did you ever roll down the window of your car when "Boys of Summer" came on the radio, stick your elbow out the driver's side door, look serious, make weird faces and pretend you were Don Henley in the video? Um ... me neither.

8:41: The Grammy for "Best Rock Song" goes to ... Train! That's the third straight time somebody sang a song on stage, then immediately won the Grammy for it. Could somebody wake up Rob Neyer and get him to come up with a stat for this?

(Don't you wish Neyer wrote about music sometimes? Then we could read tidbits like "Nate Dogg was never really a West Coast rapper -- he only averaged 2.33 F-bombs per song from 1993 to 1998" and "Eddie Van Halen really wasn't that good at guitar -- only 53.3 percent of his solos lasted for longer than 30 seconds.")

8:47: Jon Stewart informs us that Sept. 11 was the original date for last year's Latin Grammys. Here's my question: Has anyone ever held a Latin Awards show that didn't involve Jimmy Smits and Edward James Olmos? Has this ever happened? Can you let me know when it does?

Tony Bennett and Billy Joel
The years have not been kind to Billy Joel.

8:48: Some guy named Alejandro is singing in Spanish with Destiny's Child. These girls are still around? When is Beyonce Knowles getting married, so somebody will finally get to say the words, "This is my fiancée, Beyonce"?

8:53: Presenters Jamie Foxx and Ja Rule exchange awkward jokes while a mute Pamela Anderson stands between them, lapsing in and out of consciousness. Maybe the highlight of the show so far.

8:54: Best R&B Album winner: Alicia Keys. She's dressed like a genie. Whoops ... now they're playing music and trying to drive her off the stage ... this is awful ... I hate when this happens ... is there anything worse than the Loud Music coming in during an awards show ... I feel awkward as hell ... hold me ...

9:01: Our next performers: Tony Bennett singing "New York State of Mind" with Billy Joel, who is suddenly 85 years old. It's going to be weeks before I recover from this.

9:05: Time for a duet with *N Sync and rapper Nelly. It would have been fun to see these guys introduced backstage. Just for the record, I can't believe that people love *N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. It honestly shakes my faith in mankind. I just don't get it. Crappy songs and sloppy choreography ... since when was this a recipe for a music juggernaut? What happened to music? WHAT HAPPENED TO MUSIC?

9:09: Keith Richards edges out Jimmy Page for the "How The Hell Is This Guy Still Alive?" Grammy.

9:11: Everyone has a celebrity who cracks them up 24/7 ... mine is P-Diddy. He used to be Puff Daddy, now he's P-Diddy. Either way, he sucks. And yet he carries himself like a major play-ah. He just presented the Grammy for "Best Female Pop Vocal" to Nelly Furtado, who also won a Grammy tonight for "Most Times Turning Down Her Record Company's Request To Get Breast Implants."

Hugh Hefner
Hugh Hefner is thoroughly searched by security as he arrives for the show.

9:15: Mmmmm ... the light-red Starburst ...

9:23: I will never get the last six minutes of my life back. Let's just say that the words "Musical tribute" and "O Brother Where Art Thou" were involved. Fortunately, they showed Hugh Hefner sitting in a row with about eight blondes. Hef, is that your catheter or are you just glad to see me?

9:25: Sheryl Crow is like Barry Bonds, "Caddyshack" or an '85 Shafer cabernet -- she just gets better with age. Right now she's wearing a bustier and putting the Dixie Chicks to shame. Good times. Unfortunately, they're presenting the Country Collaboration Award. Couldn't this be pushed into the "Awards that weren't good enough to be on the show" montage?

9:37: All right, I'll say it: I'm not down with this Alicia Keys thing. Sure, it's nice to have a woman playing the piano and writing/singing songs, but everyone's making her out to be a cross between Elton John, Whitney Houston and Tori Amos, only without the baggage. This has all the makings of "Penny Hardaway: The Sequel." Can she put out a few albums first?

9:40: Oh my God! Kevin James and Ray Romano! On the same stage?!?!?! This is like seeing Pryor and Carlin in the mid-'70s! One of those watershed events in which you'll always remember where you were when it happened, even 40 years later.

CHAT WITH SPORTS GUY
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9:42: Best new artist nominees: Nelly Furtado, Alicia Keys, India.Arie, David Gray and Linkin Park. Has there ever been a worse year for music? Utterly dumbfounding. It's not that I'm getting old, right? I mean, music has sucked now for like three or four years, right? Am I right? Please tell me I'm right.

9:42: The winner: Alicia Keys. I'm sensing a theme. Couldn't David Gray have won that one, just for putting out 23 songs that sound exactly the same? When's the last time that happened?

9:51: Stewart: "Please welcome ... the incredible Dave Matthews Band." That was a little strong. Subpar performance for Stewart so far.

9:53: Kid Rock sucks, but at least he knows it. He just presented the Best Rock Duo Grammy to U2 for "Elevation." Please. Classic Grammys. Let's go with the safest possible choice. At least the Edge is babbling and making jokes. Is it "Edge" or "The Edge"? Has this ever been answered? Does he sign his checks "The Edge"? Now I'm babbling.

9:54: The Loud Music drives a rambling Bono off the stage. What were the odds? I had 10:23 p.m. in the ESPN.com Office Pool.

10:01: Good God, another "Survivor" is starting up already? Even Billy Martin didn't beat the 1980 Oakland A's pitching staff into the ground this badly. Didn't CBS learn from the way ABC overexposed the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" franchise? Hollywood never ceases to amaze.

10:05: You know, nothing clears out a living room faster than a live performance from Bob Dylan. It's like throwing a grenade on the coffee table. I'm not sure whether "disorienting," "discombobulating" or "excruciating" is the right adjective here.

Sheryl Crow
Did Sheryl Crow get dressed in the dark last Wednesday night?

10:09: Here's the threesome of the night: Janet Jackson, Gloria Estefan and ... Matthew McConaughey. All right, all right, all right! McConaughey looks like he just crawled out of a smoke-filled van with Slater and Randy Pink Floyd. He also has the John Cusack Memorial "I have more hair right now than I did 10 years ago" thing going. Could somebody take off his clothes and give him some bongos?

10:11: The "O Brother Where Art Thou" Soundtrack just won Album of the Year. I don't even have a joke here.

10:13: Pink wins the Grammy for "Artist Most Likely To Surface In A Black-Market Porn Video."

10:14: I wish they had "Grammy Flashbacks" so we could see things like Patrick Swayze belting out "She's Like the Wind." I would pee my pants if this happened. Remember that song? Lyrics like, "She bathes me in moonlight, only to burn me, with the sun" and "I feel her breath in my face ... her body close to me ... I can't look in her eyes ... she's out of my leeeeague." All things considered, that was the funniest song ever. I'm giggling just typing this paragraph.

10:18: The Sports Gal is convinced that Mary J. Blige hired all chunky backup singers to make herself look thinner. Intriguing.

10:21: Yikes, it's Celine Dion. Camera two! Camera two!

10:24: Song of the Year: "Fallin" from Alicia Keys. Alicia tells the crowd, "Please believe in yourself, always believe in yourself. Man, this makes me believe that. I believe that anyway. No matter what. I believe that. Oh, my gosh. I'm stuck for words." I believe it.

10:27: Well, this diary is going down the tubes ... The Greatest Game of All-Time is showing on ESPN Classic. I've been waiting for years for them to show this one. Need I say more?

Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys might be headed for a Penny Hardaway-like decline.

10:32: Scorrrrrrrre!!!!!!! Mike Eruzione makes it "USA 4, USSR 3," as Al Michaels screams, "Now we've got bedlam!" I think I just blacked out.

10:35: Back to the Grammys: Some smug guy with a goatee is lecturing America on the evils of downloading music from the Internet. It's going over like a fart in church. High comedy. Meanwhile, the Russians are peppering Jim Craig with shots, but they can't squeeze one by him. Too much stimulation ... I can't take it ... (Uh-oh ... I feel another seizure coming on ...)

(Oh, no ... oh, boy ...)

(ErrrrrrraHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!)

(ARGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!)

(ARGTHRHSHSHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!)

10:47: Outkast comes on stage with Big Boi wearing a green pimp suit and a mink hat, while 'Dre's wearing a pink jump shirt with a blond wig. Little kids are also jumping rope behind them on a mock playground set. I love these guys. You haven't really lived until you've said the words, "Do you have Stankonia?" to someone at Sam Goody's.

10:52: They should have Alanis Morrissette, Jewel and Natalie Imbruglia present Nelly Furtado with the Grammy for "Best Female Artist Du'Jour." And they could all be scowling.

10:55: Do you believe in miracles ... YES!!!! USA! USA! USA! Meanwhile, at the exact same time on CBS, "Stankonia" wins for "Best Rap Album." What a moment that was. Big Boi, Al Michaels, 'Dre and Jim Craig.

10:56: Just did a lap around the living room.

11:01: Country singer Alan Jackson belts out an emotional 9/11 homage. Maybe CBS could work this song into the 9/11 documentary that they keep breathlessly promoting. Presented by Nextel! With your host Robert De Niro! Shame on you, CBS. Shame on you.

(Yikes! I just turned into Phil Mushnick.)

11:11: Jon Stewart just announced someone who was nominated for seven Grammys tonight: India.Arie. She's wearing a rainbow tablecloth. I have never, ever, ever heard of this person before tonight. I'm officially old. Just shoot me.

11:15: How 'bout this threesome of presenters: Bonnie Raitt, Celine Dion and a gigantic Stevie Wonder, who's apparently been eating lunch at the same buffet table with Magic Johnson and Shawn Kemp. Is it a coincidence that they didn't waste a hot chick on Stevie? Can't you hear the Grammys producer telling him, "No, no, Stevie ... these two are babes ... you guys will look great together!"

11:18: U2 wins again for "Walk On." The Loud Music drives Bono off again. I think I'm developing an eye tick.

11:25: The final performance: A gospel montage with Brian McKnight, Al Green and a bunch of people I couldn't recognize. Nothing like watching an audience filled with mostly middle-aged whites trying to stomp their feet to a gospel song.

So what did we learn tonight? The music industry still stinks, female stars are still dressing like harlots, Bob Dylan is still terrifying, Bono still rambles, and Hollywood is still shameless. In other words, we didn't learn anything.

(So why did I have fun? Don't tell anyone ...)

Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2.



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