Steely Dan Steals Grammys From Eminem, 'N Sync

ByWill Comerford

February 21, 2001 -- Click here for a complete list of Grammy winners.

Jazz-rock duo Steely Dan surprised all but the most conservative pundits, leading the way Wednesday night at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards by winning three trophies (and a fourth for its engineers). Faith Hill, Eminem, and U2 each took home three awards.

Though Eminem won three Grammys at the ceremony, The Marshall Mathers LP was denied the Album of the Year award — which many expected the disc to win, despite the considerable controversy surrounding it.

Even without the prize, Eminem had the centerpiece of the show: a performance of his song "Stan" (the only song of his that the Academy would allow him to play, because of its relative lack of profanity) with openly gay pop icon Elton John.

The two vocalists, introduced by Recording Academy President Michael Greene, were in stark contrast, with the 28-year-old rapper walking around the stage with a plain, white T-shirt and jeans, while John, standing at a keyboard and singing Dido's parts in the song, wore a yellow suit and shirt with large, pink polka dots. Following the song, the two embraced, as the audience at Staples Center stood in applause.

Steely Dan's Two Against Nature, the duo's first album since 1980, not only upset the Eminem disc for the Album of the Year honor, it also won the Best Pop Vocal Album prize — defeating such powerhouse artists as Madonna, Britney Spears, and 'N Sync — and its single "Cousin Dupree" won Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, over tracks by 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys. Two Against Nature also was named Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.

Another upset victor was country singer Shelby Lynne, who won the vaunted Best New Artist trophy, defeating favorite Sisqo. Not only is Lynne a music veteran ("It took 13 years and six albums to get here," she quipped in her acceptance speech), but she also had by far the lowest album sales of the other rookies, selling 165,000 copies of I Am Shelby Lynne.

Rock veteran outfit U2 also made a powerful showing, with its hit "Beautiful Day" winning trophies for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. All three of the awards were passed out during the ceremony, bringing the quartet to the stage repeatedly — in addition to a trip to the stage for a performance of "Beautiful Day."

Frontman Bono took the mic after the first award, thanking his mother and God, then adding, "I can imagine God saying, 'Don't thank me for that song. … I never listen to it on my radio.'"

On the second trip to the stage, guitarist The Edge took the mic, prompting host Jon Stewart to joke, "I didn't know he could talk."

Bono again handled the acceptance on the group's third trip, saying, "The whole year has been quite humbling, going back to scratch, reapplying for the job. What job? The best-band-in-the-world job. … A lot of people in the world are up for that job. … Right now, it's our night — thank you!"

Faith Hill won two awards before the show began but had a long list of people to thank when she was called to the stage to collect the Best Country Album Grammy. Her list ended in a loss for words: "Thank you so much, I love … everybody."

Other artists winning multiple awards included Dr. Dre, who won for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group (a prize he shared with Eminem for the track "Forgot About Dre"); Destiny's Child won two awards for "Say My Name" (Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group); D'Angelo won prizes for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance ("Untitled") and Best R&B Album (Voodoo); and the Foo Fighters picked up trophies, before the ceremony, for Best Rock Album (There Is Nothing Left to Lose) and Best Music Video, Short Form ("Learning to Fly").

Best Performances: Eminem and Elton John; Moby, Jill Scott, and the Blue Man Group

Best Quip: Dolly Parton, speaking about Best New Artist nominee Brad Paisley, commenting, "I'm old enough to be his … lover"

Best Jon Stewart Quip: "Was she looking at you or was she looking at me?" — to Tim McGraw after Faith Hill performed "Breathe"

The Jennifer Lopez Award: Toni Braxton

The "What's Underneath That Thing?" Award: Erykah Badu, who, sans her usual headdress, revealed a cleanly shaved head

Most Pompous Moment (Tie): Michael Greene explaining the popularity of hip-hop; U2's acceptance speech for Record of the Year: "Right now, it's our night"

Best Flashback: Madonna's "Material Girl" tank top

Oddest Get-up: Christina Aguilera's snowflake-inspired coat

Most Boring Acceptance Speech: Any of Steely Dan's

Best Plug: Eminem, after accepting the Best Rap Album Award, introducing his group D12 (who accompanied him onstage) and mentioning that the band's album is coming out next month

Biggest Surprise: Stevie Wonder presenting the award for Record of the Year

Cuba Gooding Jr. Acceptance Speech Award: Faith Hill

Utterer of the Most Bad Words: Eminem, after nobly editing himself early on (saying "f it"), slipping a few bad words past the censors during his performance of "Stan."

Best Brush Off: Joni Mitchell, presenting Record of the Year, introducing 'N Sync's song as "Bye, Bye"

Worst TelePrompTer Reader: Richie Sambora

Most Glaring Absence: Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys

Poorest Song Choice for a Performance: 'N Sync's slow and cloying number "This I Promise You"

Click here for a complete list of Grammy winners.

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