Bruce Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks win three apiece
The Grammys have a new queen.
Pop-jazz chanteuse Norah Jones, who released her first album one year ago, was crowned Sunday night with a phenomenal five-for-five sweep.
She won three of the "big four" categories: album and record of the year and best new artist. Bandmate and songwriter Jesse Harris won the other top award, song of the year, for writing her hit Don't Know Why. Jones also won the pop album and female pop vocal awards, and her producer and engineer earned trophies as well.
Jones' live performance of Don't Know Why at New York's Madison Square Garden was typically stylish and understated. "I was really nervous" before performing, she said backstage. "I saw Aretha Franklin sitting in the second row, and it really freaked me out.
"The way pop music has gone, in the past five or 10 years, I never thought my music would be considered pop music."
In winning best album, she beat the favored Bruce Springsteen. "It's amazing," she said. "I can't believe it. He's The Boss."
Jones' victory - along with such voter selections as John Mayer (who beat Sting, Elton John and James Taylor for male pop vocal honors) and Coldplay (who knocked off U2 and Aerosmith in rock group vocal) - heralded at least a partial changing of the guard in favor of new artists.
Not that veterans were shut out: Sheryl Crow, Alan Jackson, Tony Bennett, Faith Hill and Johnny Cash captured honors, and Springsteen and the Dixie Chicks took home three apiece.
Two-time winner Eminem, often a magnet for controversy, took the high road in accepting his rap album award, saluting more than a dozen rappers who inspired him.
Another potential controversy - artists using the telecast as a forum to express anti-war views - mostly failed to materialize. Artists restricted their remarks to the usual generalities on stage, with the notable exception of Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, who expressed his wish "that this war should go away as soon as possible." Presenter Bonnie Raitt offered a less confrontational "Let's keep the peace."
Art Garfunkel, who reunited with Paul Simon to open the show, said backstage: "It's tough to keep your lip buttoned in this time. But I don't know if it's appropriate ... even if there's much to be said."
Performances started out in a generally low-key vein. The long-estranged Simon and Garfunkel, recipients of a lifetime achievement award, sang a slightly ragged Sounds of Silence and did not make eye contact in their first performance in more than a decade.
The Dixie Chicks opted to sing their version of Stevie Nicks' rock ballad Landslide rather than an upbeat tune, and Coldplay was impassioned but downbeat.
Even the hyperkinetic No Doubt started out slow, with a trench-coated Gwen Stefani singing a subdued Underneath It All. But she soon shed the coat for a more conventionally underdressed outfit for dance-funk number Hella Good, complete with scantily clad dancers dangling from trapezes.
The pace picked up with rousing live performances from Springsteen, Avril Lavigne and Eminem with The Roots. 'NSync's a cappella tribute to the Bee Gees, who won the 2003 Legend award, was the evening's most touching moment.
A more raucous tribute to the late singer of The Clash, Joe Strummer, featured Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl singing Clash classic London Calling.
Multiple winners included Nelly, India Arie (making up for a shutout last year), Coldplay, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Six Feet Under theme composer Thomas Newman, conductor Robert Spano's treatment of Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony and a box set collecting the works of bluesman Charley Patton.
Notable artists shut out included some of pop's most glittering stars (Lavigne, Pink, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera), longtime Grammy favorites (Sting, U2) and established stars (Jay-Z, R. Kelly).
Lifetime achievement awards also were given to Etta James, Johnny Mathis and, posthumously, to Glenn Miller and Tito Puente.