The Dixie Chicks' approval ratings reached a record high at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards.
The controversial country trio triumphed Sunday in all five categories in which it was nominated, including Album of the Year for Taking the Long Way and Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Not Ready to Make Nice."
"I, for the first time in my life, am speechless," lead singer Natalie Maines said upon accepting the Song of the Year award.
The Chicks penned "Not Ready to Make Nice" as a response to the backlash created by Maines' infamous outburst at a 2003 concert in London, where she told the crowd she was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." The remark led country music stations to pull the band's music from rotation, while angry fans destroyed their Chicks CDs and posters.
When the band took the stage again to accept the Country Album of the Year award for Taking the Long Way, Maines joked, "To quote the great Simpsons—'Heh-Heh.'
"Just kidding. A lot of people just turned their TVs off right now," she continued. "I'm very sorry for that."
Mary J. Blige, who went into the Grammys with a leading eight nominations, picked up three awards for her comeback oeuvre The Breakthrough, including Best R&B Album.
"Tonight we celebrate the better human being because for so many years, I've been talked about negatively," an emotional Blige said, referencing her history of substance abuse and self-esteem issues. "But this time I've been talked about positively by so many people."
She went on to attempt to thank all of those people, in a lengthy two-minute acceptance speech that continued for some time after the obligatory "get off the stage" music began playing.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers won a total of four awards, including Best Rock Album for Stadium Arcadium and Best Rock Song for "Dani California."
While these may not have been your parents' Grammys, the awards show did its best to bridge the generation gap from the outset, kicking off the festivities with a rocking performance by the reunited Police.
Shortly thereafter, Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder accepted the first award of the night, the Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for their remake of Wonder's "For Once in My Life," beating out young whippersnappers such as Shakira and Wyclef Jean and Nelly Furtado and Timbaland.
Bennett also picked up a second Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Duets: An American Classic.
Other Grammy winners whose careers were already flourishing in the vinyl era included Bob Dylan, who won Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance and Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album; Bruce Springsteen, who won Best Traditional Folk Album and Best Long Form Music Video; and Peter Frampton, who picked up Best Pop Instrumental Album.
Former President Jimmy Carter became the second U.S. president to win a Spoken Word Grammy for the audio version of his book, Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis. Bill Clinton previously won the honor in both 2004 and 2005, while Hilary Clinton won the Spoken Word Grammy in 1997, while she was still first lady.
Carter shared the honor with Ruby Dee and her late husband, Ossie Davis, who won the Spoken Word Grammy for their memoir, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together.
The show also featured tributes to late music legends James Brown and Armet Ertegun and performances by Smokey Robinson and Lionel Richie. Also recognized were the winners of this year's Lifetime Achievement Grammys, including Joan Baez, the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Booker T. & The MG's, Maria Callas, Ornette Coleman and Bob Wills.
Of course, the Grammys had plenty to offer the MySpace generation as well.
Two-time winner Justin Timberlake took the stage to perform with the winner of the My Grammy Moment contest, a competition in which unknown artists vied for the chance to showcase their vocals and dance skills alongside the "SexyBack" singer, with the winner decided by online and text voting. Unfortunately, the resulting segment, starring aspiring singer Robyn Troup, was about as memorable as an early round American Idol audition.
Meanwhile, Carrie Underwood, a more successful product of reality television, won Best New Artist, beating out James Blunt and Corinne Bailey Rae, among others.
Proving to be a more grateful Idol alumna than Kelly Clarkson (who famously omitted the talent show from her acceptance speech at last year's Grammys), Underwood gave Idol creator Simon Fuller third billing on her list of thank-yous, after first expressing gratitude to God and her parents.
Underwood also won Best Female Country Vocal performance, while the lyricists behind her hit, "Jesus, Take the Wheel," won Best Country Song.
Ludacris, who won Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song, used his acceptance speech to give a "special shout-out" to Oprah Winfrey and Bill O'Reilly, both of whom he has clashed with in the past—Winfrey for allegedly editing his comments unfairly when he appeared on her show and O'Reilly for making remarks that led Pepsi to drop him from an ad campaign.
"I love ya," the rapper said sarcastically.
Other double winners among the newer artists included Gnarls Barkley, John Mayer and T.I.
The awards show returned to its traditional Sunday-night slot this year after getting trounced in the ratings due to an ill-fated attempt to compete with American Idol on a Wednesday night last year.
Check out the night's big winners on our 49th Annual Grammy Awards scorecard.