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Grammy Awards: Tina Turner, Kanye West sizzle onstage

GRAMMYS: The awards are nice and all, but let's see who delivered onstage and who came up short

02:25 PM CST on Monday, February 11, 2008

By MARIO TARRADELL / The Dallas Morning News

Certainly you weren't watching the 50th annual Grammy Awards to find out who won those golden gramophones, right? There's the www.grammy.com Web site for that. Sunday night's telecast was all about the performances. This was a musical variety special with a few presentations squeezed in for good measure.

And those stage stints are going to be the topic of conversation this morning. So if you didn't watch, here's a random rundown of some of the evening's platform performers.

TINA TURNER STILL SIZZLES: She's still got it! Tina Turner is older, and in some ways it shows, but wow, she remains rock 'n' R&B royalty. "What's Love Got to Do With It," "Better Be Good to Me" and then "Proud Mary" (with Beyoncé) proved that the unflappable diva commands an audience like no other. By the way, what was Beyoncé doing there? She added nothing. In fact, she might as well have been one of the background dancers. Stand back, girl, this is Tina's show.

KANYE FINDS HIS PUNK CENTER: The ever-boastful rapper Kanye West teamed with French electronic duo Daft Punk, in their first television performance, for a cool "Stronger." Futuristic, funky and more than a little retro, it was a blast to watch. However, his dramatic tribute to his late mother put a damper on the proceedings. We're sorry for your loss, Kanye, but keep your eye on the flow.

CARRIE IN BLACK: Facially she channeled Tammy Wynette, especially with that retro hairstyle. But with the knee-high boots and biker-chick-gone-glam country outfit, Carrie Underwood tried as best she could to inject edge into her "Before He Cheats." But you can't conjure what you don't have. Even with the Stomp-like dancers as background, Ms. Underwood was just bland.

AN EXCITING SET OF FOOS: That Foo Fighters-rendition of "The Pretender" done outside the Staples Center was fiery good. The energy of the hard rock music, the drama of the orchestra in the background and the passionate, combustible Dave Grohl on the mike all made for a memorable miniconcert.

AFP/Getty Images
Kanye West (left, bottom) performs with Daft Punk at the 50th Grammy Awards.

WINEHOUSE WOBBLES: Let's just say that it was gratifying to see Amy Winehouse standing and singing relatively well via satellite from London. She did "You Know I'm No Good" and then her career-launching hit, "Rehab." The music was great, that fun merging of girl-group pop, R&B and hip-hop. But yes, there were moments when you wondered if the troubled (and dangerously thin) singer-songwriter would pass out from malnutrition. That hair weave seemed too heavy for her head.

WHAT A TRIO: Or perhaps we should say, a trio of what? Kid Rock, Keely Smith and Dave Koz together on the same stage. Hmm ... words can't describe that one.

PAISLEY'S PICKING: Brad Paisley can sure play that electric guitar, huh? Thank goodness for his performance. He at least represents the quality side of mainstream country music.

JUNGLE LOVING CUT SHORT: Morris Day and the Time had the joint jamming with "Jungle Love." Mr. Day looks better than anybody would have expected him to. But why, oh why, did Rihanna have to blast her way into that performance with the forgettable dance number "Don't Stop the Music?" That song is nothing but a tired riff repeated ad nauseam. More "Jungle Love," please.

MAJOR KEYS: Alicia Keys and John Mayer made a stylish pair on the platform. She sang "No One" with her usual soulful flair. He picked that guitar with his customary aplomb. Now here are excellent examples of music's new generation of talented stars.

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