Oh, what a good Grammy fight there could have been for Best Song and Record: Alicia Keys’ “Superwoman," undoubtedly a nominee in both categories, almost had some real competition in many categories.
On Wednesday morning, our friends at Z100 in New York unveiled Beyonce’s new single. “If I Were a Boy.” And the news is: It’s Beyonce’s best record ever in her career, a total smash, an unexpected coup. You can hear it at http://z100.elvisduran.com/pages/news/beyonce.
But "Boy" missed the Grammy deadline by eight days, and we can only wonder why. Certainly this single was ready to go on Sept. 30 in some form. It’s just Beyonce singing, very straightforward for once, no nonsense. It shows off her amazing vocal chops and establishes her as a singer.
The song is written and produced by Toby Gad, who accomplished a similar feat with Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” another smart ballad with a terrific melody.
Could the delay be thanks to Alicia and Beyonce being in the same record conglom? Quite possibly. Because of the Sony-BMG merger, both singers are now under the same umbrella, the new Sony Music Entertainment. And they’re not alone. Jennifer Hudson is there, too, with her new self-titled debut album. So, too, is Leona Lewis, who’s had a gigantic hit all year with her single, “Bleeding Love,” also a very likely contender in the same Grammy categories.
Not only that: All three of these women — Alicia, Jennifer, Leona — have albums vying for Best Album and Best R&B album, not to mention Best Female Pop (or R&B) Vocal Performance. And they’re all on Sony. Something’s gotta give. Of course, Keys' album, “As I Am,” is the most likely to make it all the way and could actually win the top honor next February.
All of that leaves Beyonce out in the cold at the Grammys, even though by February, “If I Were a Boy" will have been a huge hit for four months. But that’s the problem when mergers put several singers of the same ilk all together in one place.
Of interest: Take a look at Beyonce’s black-and-white picture on the Z100 page, in which she’s wearing no makeup. Seems like the marketing ploy on this new album is to strip her away from the glamour and glitz of “Dreamgirls.”
Not only that: We’re about to get another blast of Beyonce when she plays Etta James in the Chess Records movie, “Cadillac Records,” set for next month. I’m told her rendition of “At Last” will blow us away. (Still, check out Phoebe Snow’s famous live cut from the '90s with the New York Rock and Soul Revue.)
Meantime if you want to see a consummate singer songwriter, check out Keys’ performance of “Superwoman” from earlier this week on “Live with Regis and Kelly” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7J_ux_taJng.
PS: Let’s not forget that Sony has one person to thank for Alicia, Jennifer and Leona: Clive Davis, who made these women stars on his J Records. If Clive gets to put on his pre-Grammy dinner and show this year, it will likely be his best ever!
Chrissie Hynde, god bless her, doesn’t give a (bleep) about the current nostalgia for punk music. That’s what she told us Tuesday night at the Highline Ballroom during a 90-minute show that rocked hard with a mixture of blues, country, dirty rock, catchy melodies and her soaring vocals.
Martin Chambers was back on drums (he’s not on the new Pretenders album for some reason) and Chrissie’s picked up a hot lead guitarist who helped her sizzle through Pretenders hits like “Kid,” “Brass in Pocket,” “The Wait,” “Talk of the Town,” “Day After Day,” “Stop Your Sobbing,” “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” mixed in with new tracks like the title song, “Breaking Up the Concrete.”
And even though the playlist for the night, which I swiped from the sound guy, promised an encore of “Precious,” Chrissie skipped it and left the absolutely packed-like-sardines audience —including Matthew Modine and Sandra Bernhard — wanting more. She’ll be back, it’s OK. …
Warner Music Group’s Lyor Cohen cashed out almost $7 million this year of his company stock to buy another Hamptons house, has developed no new artists at Warner’s and pretty much destroyed a venerable company now trading at $5.94. (One year ago it was $11.50.)
Disliked by many in the remaining music world, as you can imagine, this is what Cohen actually told a conference in Manchester, England, on Monday: “I know at Warner Music Group, we want to work harder to earn your trust — the managers in this room, the agents, the artists — and we want to viewed as a friendly place for artists to take the risk of being an artist.” That Hamptons house must be on Da Nile. …
Ben Stiller brought wife Christine Taylor, as well as parents Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, to the Project ALS benefit Tuesday night. Other guests included “Mad Men” star John Slattery with actress wife Talia Balsam (daughter of the late great Martin Balsam and the very much alive Joyce van Patten), Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Matthew Broderick, who explained that wife Sarah Jessica Parker was home with son James.
“She’s lucky,” he said.
Chris Rock appeared, as did Jimmy Kimmel — surprise! — who appears to be reunited with Sarah Silverman. Jon Stewart joined in the comedy as well. Caroline Rhea was a no-show as she’s about to have a baby like … now. Jennifer Estess, who founded the group and is now gone, must have been smiling from heaven. ...
This column is off tomorrow for Yom Kippur and returns Friday. …