Hail, Sony!

Hail, Sony! All the top sellers won Grammies again!

Published February 25, 1999 10:05AM (EST)

Ubiquity! This is what we want from our entertainers: the inability to avoid them no matter what Sony-sponsored medium we pick up to amuse ourselves -- films, books, TV, music, whatever. Shania Twain! Can't wash that chick out of my hair! Celine Dion! Hey, that fucking song Will Go On, and is still going on, on and on, over and over in my head, over and over, like a diamond-eyed robot rat on a little golden wheel.

OK, let's get started. Hey! Rosie O'Donnell! Well, I think her enthusiasms have been flogged to death by overuse. She's been enthusiastic about a lot of things this year, everything from dried food products to infant appliances to Kmart. She has become the nicest, most pedantic woman in America. Hey! Perfect for awards ceremonies, but maybe, with that big daytime TV, over-enunciating for the hearing impaired and high school dropouts mouth on her, maybe she'd be better hosting puppet shows or the Special Olympics. Maybe America at night can be spoken to like it's a grown-up, sometimes. I bet kids under 7 think her song-jokes are a scream. God love that woman. She's got pep.

Madonna is Japanese now. There were yoga mats all over the floor; she had ironed Susie Wong hair and a plastic kimono and was dragging some kind of smarmy Brit around by the nipple when she won for best pop album. Boy, since she took those professional singing lessons for "Evita," she warbles into the mike all tremulous and sincere like a real singer and everything. $$$$$!

Jennifer Lopez, token Hispanic, was also featuring the flattened hair look, which must be the new |berstylist trick in L.A. I still think Lopez needs to go to charm school to learn how to be charming. I guess being Puerto Rican and having a salacious rack is enough for some people. Sony sure thinks so! It was great that she was representing the tits and ass of Puerto Rico, so that whenever a person of Latin origin took the stage, the camera could cut to her for a racked-out Latina reaction shot.

I'm getting worried about Aerosmith, the only band that has absolutely no water in its body. Steve Tyler, performing his hit movie theme song from"Armageddon," had traded in his spangled codpiece and spandex tights for a white suit and two suave cellos. Only the gypsy scarf on his mike stand hinted at his former transvestite glory. Steve was fairly demure, being the first of the performers that evening to assume a motionless, spread-legged stance throughout his performance. For most performers, I'd say this was due to footwear discomfort, but in Steve Tyler's case, I'm afraid it spells osteoporosis; I don't want him to break his hip.

I liked the sassy "black" dialogue written for Jada Pinkett-Smith by all those "with-it" 67-year-old white guys who make the cue cards. She said "ain't" two whole times! What raw Negro energy she has, evocative of a young Lena Horne! Perfect for "proud gorgeous black wife" reaction shots. Sony, somultinational -- oops! I mean multicultural.

OK, now for the real money. The award for best songwriter went to -- you guessed it! James Horner and Will Jennings, the fat, drunk, pasty-white fucks who wrote "My Heart Will Go On!" -- the hit movie theme song to the smash movie hit "Titanic!" What winning cynicism. What a top-flight second-guessing of America's tragic tastes. I'd wager there's more musical movie magic yet to come from those two rascals. Hoo! Can't Hardly Wait.

Around this point, the camera started hovering around the patient, ironed head of Celine Dion, looking like she was waiting to win the best of breed inthe Westchester Anorexia Cup. I bet she was nervous!

We were then treated to a nice lip-and-bass synching to my least favorite recording artist, Sheryl Crow, who had a new Natalie Imbruglia-cum-Ellen DeGeneres haircut and a midriff and klieg lights. She sure sounded like Pat Benatar, or maybe Heart, when she sang that hit movie theme song. Amazing how if you listen real close, you can always hear exactly who she is imitating that week, i.e. Rickie Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams, etc.

Country people are from a whole 'nother planet. They got lots of big teats
and hats and hee-yuk jokes about how weird you rock 'n' rollers are. Put the
"Garbage" in the "Hole"! Hee-yerk! Snaw!
Why don't they just finally segregate the country from the rock once and for
all? The music worlds, they collide. The country folk are all fat and sincere,
their clothes are all boxy and wrong. They should have their very own awards
show, where they can ooze over Garth and Vince Gill till the cows come home,
and get as Lawrence Welky as they wanna be and talk about Jesus until their
gums bleed. Give the country people all the car commercials and family values;
let Madonna and Courtney and Sheryl all gnaw each other into
rock 'n' roll kibble with their big teeth.

Ohp! It's time for the social consciousness song, the one that benefits
that really good cause. "Lean on Me," a high-gospel crossover screamer featuring
a fictional little boy living with AIDS, was this year's Bono vehicle. Bono,
Charity Whore, is always willing to wave his arms in the air for sentimental
pornography. Everybody on the stage was trying to out-soul each other, all the
churchified Africans pulled out their biggest and loudest, and the
unrestrained combat-wailing that ensued was truly unintelligible. I guess that
ever since "We Are the World," there is a general idea that if you pack as
many hollering people as possible onto a "good cause" album, you
are somehow creating an Emotional Experience ($$$$$$$$).

I was glad to see Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner receive a coveted verge of
death award for their comedy album. They were funny.

Where was Courtney Hole? Where was Jewel? -- not that I was shattered not to
see her or anything. Well, who remembers those snaggle-toothed blonds when
faced with the sheer perfection of Shania Twain!!!! Shania Twain rocked the
house in an Aerosmith spread-eagle, wearing a pair of tight vinyl hip waders,
a strapless corset and a micro-mini, looking like a British bondage model as
created by Christian Dior. I loved that part of the song where she started
barking, arf arf! While the writhing studio musicians with the double
keyboards and white violins and rubber pants enacted guitar solo-like pain
simulations, the camera crept closer and
closer to the black hole up Shania's tiny skirt. Hoooooooeeeee!
Why were all the musicians wearing goggles, you may have wondered? Didn't you
see the set-pieces ejaculate at the end?

The Backstreet Chicks, the Dixie Boyz, all wearing Bob Mackie adhesive
napkins, partying with the Jheri-curled rednecks. Aren't they kyewt?

Alanis Morissette demurely yodeled a hit movie theme song, with her
seaweed hair, Fiona Apple-style. She really tore it up in Celtic Siniad
O'Connor style with her orgiastic philharmonic and smoke machine, but the last
shot of her really needed a bucket of pig blood to fall out of the rafters,
"Carrie"-style. Alanis is OK. She's well spoken and relaxed, not nearly as
offensive and grimily self-referential as Sheryl Crow, and at least she writes
a lot of her own stuff. Leave Alanis alone, you guys.

Hey, did you catch that crazy sexy Latin guy in the leather pants,
hollering all crazy with that crazy horn section?! People on stilts! OK!! My
husband screamed, "OK Already! I'll fuck him!" He was wigglin' and wigglin'!
Mucho caliente halftime Super Bowl action!!! Crazy drums came through the
audience! Ricky Martin is Lord of the Latin Song!!! Hopla!! Cut to reaction
shot of Jennifer Lopez. Thank you, Sony!!! Did I thank Sony? I really wanna
thank Sony!!!

Foxy Brown was wearing her best set of honkers and a dress smaller than a
Starbucks cup jacket. If that tattoo wasn't covering her pubic hair, we
coulda seen everything! Boo-yah! Will Smith?! There's no stopping that guy!
He's the Tom Hanks of Rap! Cut to reaction shot of comely brown wife. He's
just so goddamned affable.

The heavy-hitters were coming. The obnoxious light boards in the background
became stained-glass church windows, because we were preparing ourselves for
the heart-opening magic of Celine Dion. Candles. Weeping symphonics. Blind
Italian opera guys. Christ, that was so bee-yoo-tee-ful! Get me a lotion-flavored Kleenex! My angina!

Question everybody was asking themselves one hour into things:
Who is getting jiggy with Shania Twain? Ricky Martin? They're both covered
with scented oils and skintight unborn calf garments.

Lauryn Hill won. I guess they realized that she had to. I guess the Grammy
voters realized that if Natalie Imbruglia or the Backstreet Boyz beat Lauryn
Hill, L.A. would go up in flames again. Thank God for Lauryn Hill, because
she has only been on the cover of everything a few times, so far. She is
refreshingly positive and black in that beautiful way we loved Bob Marley so
much for: courageous and sincere. Still -- and I say this with regret -- it is
hard not to look at her in terms of Outrageous Label Support, the big Push
that gave us perennial pop-goblins like Sheryl Crow and Jewel and everyone
else we're supposed to be buying. It's nice that the big label has chosen to
rub its prime time all over the likes of Hill, who is very talented and
real. Babylon is burning, however, and Lauryn's hair is already standing on
end from the hot sucking wind tunnels she has, so far, walked through
unscathed in her little white dress. I hope her nice family and Psalm 40 can
save her from the inevitable vampirism that befalls big stars.

I loved that speech by the president of the Recording Arts and Sciences,
Michael Green, thanking the fans, the music lovers, for giving us so much
money. Making us reach for more difficult-to-reach money; higher, for taller
money. Then that part where he said that music was powerful medicine, so he
was working with all the doctors of America to give new mothers a CD of Sheryl
Crow's "The Globe Sessions," for the early development of future money in

Hey, isn't that a black and white photo of Sam Cooke? He's dead. Otis
Redding. Dead. Smokey Robinson. Dead? That montage was a little fore-runner
of the obligatory Jazz Guilt Hour with Wynton Marsalis, in honor of Duke
Ellington, also dead, but born 100 years ago!

Gosh, music sure does add a lot to movies, said George Lucas, drunk.

TITANIC. We all knew we'd have to hear that song again when we got into
this. We knew Celine wasn't here to sit around in a bunch of bugle beads,
looking like a stretched cat. Record of the Year! My Heart Will Go On!!! What
didya think? Oh please, who do you think you are, you fringe 5 percent of the
nation who can't stand Celine? You 1,700 mean-spirited malcontents reading my
column? You don't have your finger on the pulse! You're just JEALOUS!!!

Thank you, Sony. Sony, Sony. Sony makes the movies that make the music!

By Cintra Wilson

Cintra Wilson is a culture critic and author whose books include "A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-Examined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease" and "Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyranny." Her new book, "Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling America's Fashion Destiny," will be published by WW Norton.

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