Chris Brown/Rihanna Drama Upstages Grammy Awards

Feb. 8, 2009
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Though the guy makes great summertime singles, Chris Brown has always seemed a fairly unlikable guy—kind of like a moody, faux-thuggish Nelly, without the wholesome core. Something about his omni-furrowed brow invites comparisons to the worst of the R&B singers from the New Jack Swing days, those who trumpeted their masculinity via crotch grabs and aggressive, take-what-I-want glares at sexual conquests. Chris Brown, in other words, is a modern Bobby Brown (and not shy about it).

But now those Bobby Brown comparisons have taken on an ugly new undercurrent, with Chris Brown's pop princess girlfriend Rihanna allegedly playing the tragic Whitney Houston role. Brown turned himself into police last night following allegations of domestic abuse and battery, presumably involving Rihanna (the two had reportedly been seen in a nasty squabble).

The charges cast a sober shadow over last night's Grammy Awards, where both singers canceled scheduled performances.

The charges also again underscored the division between the musicians that the Grammy's honor and the musicians that people actually follow.

Although this year's nominations were strong by Grammy standards, with three deserving titans dominating the major categories—Lil Wayne, Coldplay and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss—we'll be talking about the Chris Brown/Rihanna incident long after we'll be talking about the Plant/Krauss victory.

Sunday night was dominated by real drama involving two young, talented stars. On stage the only drama was whether the oldest-skewing, most grandfathered-in and least commercially relevant act would win all five or only just four of the categories for which they were nominated. And of course they took home all five.

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