Bad Girl Makes Good Better pill: Alanis Morissette wakes the censors, then goes on a winning jag at Grammy Awards. Seal, Hootie & the Blowfish clean up, too. Sorry, Mariah.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

You oughta know who was the big winner at the Grammy Awards last night.

Although Seal dominated the major categories, winning both Record and Song of the Year, it was Alanis Morissette who took home the most trophies: Album of the Year, Female Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song. Hootie & the Blowfish were named Best New Artist.

It would be an understatement to say that Morissette's work is not typical Grammy fare. As host Ellen DeGeneres said after "Jagged Little Pill" was named Album of the Year, "I really couldn't imagine going to my parents and playing that song for them. 'You did what in a theater? Why must you always ruin Thanksgiving?' "

Joking aside, this year's results mark a major step forward for the Grammys.

After years of taking lumps for rewarding conservatism and complacency, the members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences got hip -- or, at least, hipper than expected.

In addition to Morissette's wins, Joni Mitchell topped Mariah Carey and Madonna in the Best Pop Album category. Seal edged out Elton John and Sting to take the Best Pop Male Vocal Performance Grammy. Van Morrison and the Chieftains came out ahead of Mariah Carey with Boyz II Men and the duo of Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson.

Pearl Jam won for Best Hard Rock Performance, Blues Traveler for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group, and Nirvana for Best Alternative Album. Even Nine Inch Nails went home with a Grammy, although many fans will wonder why it was for Best Metal Performance.

Still, that's better than Jethro Tull, isn't it?

Even the ". . . and the winner is . . ." segments held surprises, as when Tupac Shakur turned up onstage in full Versace, only to be joined by the original members of KISS, all in full makeup. "We need to shock the people," smirked Tupac. Of course, some of the shock may have had to do with the size of the bellies on a few of the Kiss-ers, but hey -- a shock is a shock.

Not every category delivered a surprise. Not only was Stevie Wonder last night's Lifetime Achievement Award winner, but he breezed past new jacks D'Angelo and Babyface to take Grammys in the Best Male R&B; Vocal and Best R&B; Song categories.

Alison Krauss added to the momentum she generated at the Country Music Association awards last fall as she won in the Best Female Country Vocal and Best Country Vocal Collaboration categories. Pierre Boulez continued his Grammy streak by taking the awards for Best Classical Album and Best Orchestral Performance. Frank Sinatra had to make room on his trophy case after "Duets II" was named Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance.

Of course, most of the folks at home weren't holding their breath to see if Vince Gill would win another Grammy. (He won two, for Male Country Vocal and Country Song.) They were watching to hear this year's "Save the National Endowment for the Arts" speech by Academy president Michael Greene.

No, seriously, they watched to hear some of the biggest names in pop music perform their biggest hits. And for the most part, they were disappointed.

Sure, there were some great moments last night. Morissette offered a stately, serious rethink of "You Oughta Know," one that traded the alternarock urgency of the original with a taut and dramatic arrangement stressing strings and acoustic guitars. It was a beautiful performance, marred only by CBS' overlong bleep of the song's single four-letter word.

But for the most part, the broadcast was long on star power, but short on brilliance. You'd think a show meant to spotlight the best and brightest of the music world would be content simply to let the performers do what they usually do, but no. Instead, what we got were bloated, made-for-TV spectaculars that ended up serving neither the artists nor the material very well.

That was clearly the case with the show-opening performance of "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. Ostensibly, this was to introduce us to the first of the five Record of the Year nominees, but it quickly became an exercise in overkill. As Carey and the Boyz took turns showing how many twists and turns they could add to the melody, the stage slowly filled with choir-robed gospel singers, until it began to look like the music-biz equivalent of "Where's Waldo?" By the end of the number, neither Carey nor the melody could be found without assistance.

Robed singers were a bit of a fixation for the Grammy crowd. It wasn't just when Whitney Houston, CeCe Winans and Shirley Caesar raised the roof with a tribute to gospel music; Coolio also had a crowd of choristers behind him as he did "Gangsta's Paradise," though it was hard to say why, exactly. Maybe it was all an effort to balance out what Shania Twain and TLC weren't wearing.

Not every failure could be blamed on excess, though. D'Angelo and Tony Rich kept their tribute to Wonder deliberately understated, using only two keyboards and a guitar, but the most their performance did was remind listeners just how Wonder towers over the younger generation. And though it was nice to see Seal offering a string-drenched rendition of "Kiss from a Rose," the thorny quality of his singing made it easy to understand why he later thanked producer Trevor Horn "for making me sound good enough."

On the local end, two Baltimore-born songwriters were honored, although for work somewhat outside their normal fields.

"Smokey Joe's Cafe -- The Songs of Leiber and Stoller," a Broadway show built around the songs of Baltimorean Jerry Leiber and his Los Angelean partner Mike Stoller, won in the Best Musical Show Category.

And the late Frank Zappa shared a Grammy with his wife, Gail, for the boxed set "Civilization Phaze III." But that award wasn't for the music -- it was for the art direction.

Go figure.

Grammy winners

Record of the Year: "Kiss From a Rose," Seal

Album of the Year: "Jagged Little Pill," Alanis Morissette

Song of the Year: "Kiss From a Rose," Seal

New Artist: Hootie & the Blowfish

Female Pop Vocal Performance: "No More 'I Love You's'," Annie Lennox

Male Pop Vocal Performance: "Kiss From a Rose," Seal

Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: "Let Her Cry," Hootie & the Blowfish

Pop Collaboration with Vocals: "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?" the Chieftains with Van Morrison

Pop Instrumental Performance: "Mariachi Suite," Los Lobos

Pop Album: "Turbulent Indigo," Joni Mitchell

Traditional Pop Vocal Performance: "Duets II," Frank Sinatra

Female Rock Vocal Performance: "You Oughta Know," Alanis Morissette

Male Rock Vocal Performance: "You Don't Know How It Feels," Tom Petty

Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: "Run-Around," Blues Traveler

Hard Rock Performance: "Spin The Black Circle," Pearl Jam

Metal Performance: "Happiness In Slavery," Nine Inch Nails

Rock Instrumental Performance: "Jessica," The Allman Brothers Band

Rock Song: "You Oughta Know," Glen Ballard, Alanis Morissette

Rock Album: "Jagged Little Pill," Alanis Morissette

Alternative Music Performance: "MTV Unplugged In New York," Nirvana

Female R&B; Vocal Performance: "I Apologize," Anita Baker

Male R&B; Vocal Performance: "For Your Love," Stevie Wonder

R&B; Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: "Creep," TLC

R&B; Song: "For Your Love," Stevie Wonder

R&B; Album: "CrazySexyCool," TLC

Rap Solo Performance: "Gangsta's Paradise," Coolio

Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need To Get By," Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige

Rap Album: "Poverty's Paradise," Naughty by Nature

Female Country Vocal Performance: "Baby, Now That I've Found You," Alison Krauss

Male Country Vocal Performance: "Go Rest High on that Mountain," Vince Gill

Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: "Here Comes the Rain," The Mavericks

Country Collaboration with Vocals: "Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart," Shenandoah, Alison Krauss

Country Instrumental Performance: "Hightower," Asleep at the Wheel

Country Song: "Go Rest High on that Mountain," Vince Gill

Country Album: "The Woman in Me," Shania Twain

Bluegrass Album: "Unleashed," The Nashville Bluegrass Band

New Age Album: "Forest," George Winston

Contemporary Jazz Performance: "We Live Here," Pat Metheny Group

Jazz Vocal Performance: "An Evening with Lena Horne," Lena Horne

Jazz Instrumental Solo: "Impressions," Michael Brecker

Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group: "Infinity," McCoy Tyner Trio featuring Michael Brecker

Large Jazz Ensemble Performance: "All Blues," GRP All-Star Big Band, Tom Scott

Latin Jazz Performance: "Antonio Brasileiro," Jobim

Rock Gospel Album: "Lesson of Love," Ashley Cleveland

Pop-Contemporary Gospel Album: "I'll Lead You Home," Michael Smith

Southern Gospel, Country Gospel or Bluegrass Gospel Album: "Amazing Grace A Country Salute to Gospel," Various Artists

Traditional Soul Gospel Album: "Shirley Caesar Live ... He Will Come," Shirley Caesar

Contemporary Soul Gospel Album: "Alone in His Presence," CeCe Winans

Gospel Album by a Choir or Chorus: "Praise Him ... Live!," Carol Cymbala, choir director

Latin Pop Performance: "Amor," Jon Secada

Tropical Latin Performance: "Abriendo Puertas," Gloria Estefan

Mexican-American Performance: "Flaco Jimenez," Flaco Jimenez

Traditional Blues Album: "Chill Out," John Lee Hooker

Contemporary Blues Album: "Slippin' In," Buddy Guy

Traditional Folk Album: "South Coast," Ramblin' Jack Elliott

Contemporary Folk Album Vocal or Instrumental: "Wrecking Ball," Emmylou Harris

Reggae Album: "Boombastic," Shaggy

World Music Album: "Boheme," Deep Forest

Polka Album: "I Love to Polka," Jimmy Sturr

Musical Album for Children: "Sleepy Time Lullabys," J. Aaron Brown and David R. Lehman, producers

Spoken Word Album for Children: "Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf," Dan Broatman & Martin Sauer, producers

Spoken Word or Non-Musical Album: "Phenomenal Woman," Maya Angelou

Spoken Comedy Album: "Crank Calls," Jonathan Winters

Musical Show Album: "Smokey Joe's Cafe -- The Songs Of Leiber And Stoller"

Instrumental Composition: "A View From The Side," Bill Holman

Instrumental Composition for a Motion Picture or Television: "Crimson Tide," Hans Zimmer

Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television: "Colors Of The Wind," "Pocahontas"

Instrumental Arrangement: "Lament," Robert Farnon

Instrumental Arrangement with Vocals: "I Get A Kick Out Of You," Rob McConnell

Recording Package: "Turbulent Indigo," Robbie Cavolina, Joni Mitchell

Recording Package, Boxed: "Civilization Phaze III," Frank Zappa, Gail Zappa

Album Notes: "The Complete Stax-Volt Soul Singles, Volume 3: 1972-1975," Rob Bowman

Historical Album: "The Heifetz Collection," Jascha Heifetz, various artists

Engineered Album, Non-Classical: "Wildflowers," Dave Bianco, Richard Dodd, Stephen McLaughlin and Jim Scott

Producer of the Year: Babyface

Classical Engineered Recording: "Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra; 'Kossuth' -- Symphonic Poem," Michael Mailes and Jonathan Stokes

Classical Producer of the Year: Steven Epstein

Classical Album: "Debussy: La Mer; Nocturnes; Jeux, etc.," Pierre Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra

Orchestral Performance: "Debussy: La Mer," Pierre Boulez conducting the Cleveland Orchestra

Opera Recording: "Berlioz: Les Troyens," Charles Dutoit, conductor, Orchestre Symphonie de Montreal

Choral Performance: "Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem," Herbert Blomstedt, conductor, San Francisco Symphony and Symphony Choir; various artists

Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra: "The American Album (Works of Bernstein, Barber, Foss)," Itzhak Perlman

Instrumental Soloist Performance without Orchestra: "Schubert: Piano Sonatas" Radu Lupu

Chamber Music Performance: "Brahms/Beethoven/Mozart: Clarinet Trios," Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma and Richard Stoltzman

Classical Vocal Performance: "The Echoing Air -- The Music Of Henry Purcell," Sylvia McNair

Classical Contemporary Composition: "Messiaen: Concert A Quatre," Olivier Messiaen

Music Video, Short Form: "Scream," Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson

Music Video, Long Form: "Secret World Live," Peter Gabriel

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