After the incredibly violent display that hip-hop star Usher's security force showed at a Grammy after-party Sunday night, it's hard to think of him as a lost romantic.
But on Saturday night, at Clive Davis' incredible pre-Grammy dinner and show, Usher had some people wondering what the heck he was rambling on about before he performed the song "Burn."
"I lost at love, but at least I won a lot of Grammys," he told the audience.
Some thought he was most certainly talking about his much publicized relationship with supermodel Naomi Campbell, which seems to have died.
"I grew up right in front of you," he added during the enigmatic little speech.
Later, when he was asked whether the reference was to Campbell, Usher replied snarkily, "What? Who? No. That was nothing. You got to listen to my album."
In fact, that little statement seemed to have more to do with his split from TLC singer Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas.
In any case, Usher has learned how to turn his personal life into public soap opera and milk a few songs out of it at the same time.
And how did he know he had "won a lot of Grammys" the night before the show? That, too, remains a mystery.
He ultimately picked up four, but not the ones he wanted.
Sources told me that Usher was "very depressed" about not getting album or record of the year, and that the losses would cast a pall over his own after-party.
Of course, the nasty disposition of Elijah Shaw's Icon security force did that trick just fine.
Usher, however, wore white to match Nelly's outfit, and the two of them carried on in high spirits at the Geisha Room.
When the security team caused an unprovoked incident to erupt on the dance floor, Usher stopped the music and yelled out an encouraging "Fight! Fight!" He then resumed his deejaying.
Kid Rock Needs Advice on Women
It turns out when Kid Rock, aka Bob Ritchie, has had female trouble with Pam Anderson or Sheryl Crow, he's turned to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun for advice and counsel. The long-married Ertegun is an expert on these matters.
"He would hand me a Baby Ruth bar, call the flavor of the month and get me out of trouble," Ritchie said when he introduced Ertegun on Sunday night.
The occasion was a private reception held right after the Grammys in Petree Hall to honor Ertegun as an industry icon.
It was sort of a Grammys within a Grammys, with legendary pianist Billy Preston playing some Ray Charles songs for a crowd including songwriters Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, singer Musiq (Soulchild), Nile Rodgers, Rob Thomas and the great Nino Tempo.
"I had the great luck and pleasure to be associated with wonderful people," Ertegun said, and named his late brother Nesuhi Ertegun, his partner Jerry Wexler, producer Arif Mardin and the late legend Tom Dowd, as well as Leiber and Stoller and Led Zeppelin.
"The artists, as much trouble as they might have been, were all good people," Ertegun said. That would include the Rolling Stones in the 1970s, the Bee Gees and three dozen R&B legends such as Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave and Ruth Brown.
You know, I love the idea of Ertegun, whose triumphs have exceeded his shortcomings over the last eight decades. But he actually said at this reception that Lyor Cohen, now head of the new Warner Music Group, "has become like a brother to me. We have some wonderful years ahead of us."
Not so fast, Ahmet. Warner Music Group is now navigating its way to an IPO, but only has hits — Green Day, Linkin Park, Josh Groban — left over from its pre-Cohen era. The company has introduced no new acts and its most expensive old act, R.E.M., is a bust.
What's more, industry insiders are still waiting for new rulings and decisions on the lawsuit between TVT Records and Universal Music Group involving Cohen. A judge gave TVT, on appeal last year, $56 million from Universal and $3 million from Cohen.
And let's not forget that Cohen's protégé, Irv Lorenzo, aka Irv Gotti, of The Inc. records, was recently indicted on federal charges of money laundering.
If Cohen is deposed or ordered to testify, that should be really interesting, since his testimony in the TVT case was found so unbelievable by a judge that it cost Universal $132 million in the original ruling.
In the meantime, more trouble is brewing.
It seems that Ritchie/Kid Rock is at odds with the new Warner Music Group, and that Groban's famous producer, David Foster, has still not met Cohen after more than a year. Atlantic Records, where Kid Rock records, is still trying to absorb sister Elektra Records in cutbacks, and Atlantic's executive star Jason Flom is said to not be speaking to Cohen.
Ratings for the Grammy telecast were apparently way down from last year.
Too bad, because the show was terrific, and the Recording Academy's Neil Portnow has done a bang-up job giving the Grammys integrity.
CBS, however, is a different story. The network may have yet another new installment of its popular series, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."
This would one be called "CSI: Awards Show" and feature Gary Sinise, the star of "CSI: New York," as a celebrity who mysteriously appears on network specials.
Only the tie-in of being on another CBS show would explain Sinise's role as a presenter on Sunday's Grammys. Otherwise he had no link to the music world and no business being there.
Apparently, audiences smelled a rat in the Grammy show early on when John Travolta appeared to do a blatant plug for his bad new movie, "Be Cool."
Same for Adam Sandler, star of a movie coming out on Memorial Day weekend.
Of course, there were some other peculiar appearances, too. Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz, co-stars of the upcoming "Sahara" from Paramount, made individual presentations — not even together.
Cruz's was uniquely weird, too, since her command of English remains poor.
And what about Charlie Sheen? What was his music connection? Why, he's the star of CBS's "Two and a Half Men."
I'm surprised Doris Roberts of "Everyone Loves Raymond" didn't give an award.
Now, the plugs for CBS shows, while completely un-hip and non-musical, can be explained as cross-promotional, I suppose, some kind of synergistic move.
But really, the blatant time-tested "promotional consideration" caveat for "Sahara," "Be Cool" and the Sandler movie just completely undermined the overall best Grammy telecast in years and years.
The audience, CBS should realize, is not stupid. The Grammys should be just as vigilant as the Oscars in making sure that presenters are chosen because of their importance and relevance, not because a movie studio has tossed some bread in the network's direction.
At the Oscars, for example, favorite superstars often present awards in years when they are not in competition. At the Grammys, though, if you're not a contemporary, or otherwise part of the show, you don't exist.
And how about the no-shows of the night?
Prince, who appeared at Davis' Saturday night shindig and gave his own late-late night parties Saturday and Sunday, skipped the Grammys and wasn't there to pick up his own award.
And then there was Al Green, who simply didn't show up after being publicized as part of the tsunami sing-a-long. Maybe he didn't realize it was a "charity" single.
Green is notorious for rudeness and avarice, two things that don't mesh well with charity. But I could have told the Grammy organizers that, if they'd asked.
In recent years, Green has stiffed both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, each of which gave him lifetime achievement awards with honorariums. In both cases, sources say, he took the money but didn't show.