By Eileen Murphy
Well, the weather outside is frightful and we’ve already broken all of our New Year’s resolutions, which can mean only one thing: it’s time to gloat over this year’s Grammy nominations.
By now you’ve heard that our very favoritest rock band, U2, scooped three nominations for "Beautiful Day," the lead-off single from their new album, "All That You Can’t Leave behind." Though the album was released too late to be considered for this year’s awards, the single squeaked in under the deadline.
The boys will face some stiff competition in each of the categories in which they’ve been tapped. For Record of the Year, they’re up against "Say My Name," by Destiny’s Child, "I Try," by Macy Gray, "Music," by Madonna, and "Bye Bye Bye," by ‘Nsync.
In the Song of the Year sweepstakes, they’ll need to beat out country crossovers Faith Hill and Lee Ann Womack, with their hits, "Breathe" and "I Hope You Dance," as well as Macy Gray and Destiny’s Child.
U2’s toughest competition will come in the Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal category, where they’ll face off against Bon Jovi’s "It’s My Life," Creed’s "With Arms Wide Open," Foo Fighters’ "Learn to Fly," and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ "Californication."
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Of course, U2 is not the only Irish act to be recognized by the Academy this year. Clannad singer Maire Brennan’s solo project, "Whisper to the Wild Water," made the list of nominees in the Best New Age Album category, as did "Highland Cathedral," by Irish icon Phil Coulter. Natalie MacMaster’s beautiful "My Roots Are Showing" CD will compete in the Best Traditional Folk Album category, while Billy Bragg and Wilco have been nominated for best Contemporary Folk Album.
What would the Grammy Awards be without at least one nod to Ireland’s musical ambassadors? (Thank goodness, we’ll probably never know.) The Chieftains will once again compete in the Best World Music Album category with their sublime "Water From the Well," and though the official results won’t be known for a few weeks, we’d advise Paddy Moloney to start working on his acceptance speech.
The clan McCourt will be happy to hear that composer John Williams has been nominated for Best Instrumental Composition thanks to his "Theme from Angela’s Ashes." The movie may have been somewhat of a disappointment, but the music, apparently, lives on.
And just in case you thought that you had to be a singer or a musician to win a Grammy, think again. Movie heartthrob Matt Dillon earned a nod for Best Spoken Word Album for his performance of Jack Kerouac’s "On the Road — Unabridged." And, garnering the coolest nomination, Irish actor Liam Neeson proves that he’s more than just a (sigh!) hunky movie superstar by earning a Grammy nod for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for his reading of Chris Van Allsburg’s "The Polar Express." Unfortunately, that’s one of those awards they give out in advance to save time during the broadcast. But really, what would you rather see, a nice speech from Ballymena’s favorite son or Eminem grabbing his unmentionables? (And before you start sending us outraged e-mails, for once we’re talking about Eminem’s own unmentionables, not Liam’s.)
Westie to wed Atomic Kitten
You know, we’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: being a pop star is, apparently, not all it’s cracked up to be.
Take the case of Westlife’s besotted and betrothed band member, Bryan McFadden. As if it’s not hard enough learning all those songs and complicated dance steps, he has to maintain his image as the ideal dream date for a countryful of orthodontically-enhanced teenagers. This means he must always look C-U-T-E (Cuddly, Urban, Trendy and Eligible). And, of course, he must always be available. Which is why the band’s management and record label insisted that Bryan keep his engagement to Atomic Kitten singer Kerry (apparently no last name) under wraps for the last year.
Bryan finally ‘fessed up in the latest Westlife column in the Sunday World.
"Not that I was hiding anything, as all the fans were aware that Kerry is my girlfriend," he wrote. "But I hadn’t come out and said that we’ve actually been engaged for a whole year."
But don’t worry, Westlife fans, Bryan’s not tying the knot just yet.
"Because I’m going to be really busy with Westlife this year, we have decided not to wed until next year," he wrote.
"I just didn’t want us to get married and then have to go back to work the next day."
McFadden reveals that he proposed to Kerry in Donegal, "in the same spot where my grandad asked my nana to be his bride." And, being an old-fashioned guy at heart, Bryan even asked Kerry’s mum for permission before he proposed. Geez, if he were any sweeter, we’d have to brush between songs.
"I don’t do duets. Doing duets is for girls."
– Oasis singer (and rugged individualist) Liam Gallagher.
Thanks to the saga of the dimpled chad, you’d think a political magazine would flourish in these politically contentious times. But even the recent interest in votes and voters wasn’t enough to save George, the magazine founded by the late John F. Kennedy Jr.
Hachette Filipacchi, the publisher of George, has announced that the magazine will fold after its March issue. The company acquired full ownership of the title after Kennedy’s tragic death in a plane crash in July 1999. Back then, a company spokesperson said that the publishers were committed to keeping the magazine going for two to three years. But falling ad revenue and sluggish newsstand sales made it clear that profitability was a just a distant possibility.
Kennedy founded the politics-and-lifestyle magazine in 1995. The debut issue featured supermodel Cindy Crawford dressed as the magazine’s namesake, George Washington (though we have it on good authority that General Washington wore a little less makeup). Though the magazine’s editorial content tried hard to make politics "sexy," Kennedy was savvy enough to put celebrities as diverse as Julia Roberts, Howard Stern and — in a breathtakingly daring move — Drew Barrymore (dressed as his father’s rumored flame, Marilyn Monroe) on the cover to attract readers.
At the end of the day, though, it was John’s personal celebrity that drew attention to the magazine. George made headlines when Kennedy, once voted People’s "Sexiest Man Alive" posed nude (shadows strategically hiding the naughty bits). He also caused shockwaves when he published an editorial in which he criticized his cousins, dubbing them "poster boys for bad behavior."
"George" without John, lost its glamour and became just another title vying for attention on the newsstands. It survived a year and a half without its driving force, the sense of fun, the coolness-by-association. The celebrity edge was gone. It died on that warm July day when John’s plane disappeared from radar. RIP, Georgie boy.