Awards shows are a whole lot duller these days thanks to Janet Jackson’s boob. Last year’s infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction resulted in an FCC crackdown and a five-minute delay on the Grammy Awards one week later. Gone are the days of expletive-laced acceptance speeches, obscene hand gestures, and the glimpse of a forbidden body part. Madonna may french Britney Spears. Ashlee Simpson’s reflux might kick in. But if Eminem speaks his mind or Lil’ Kim falls out of her dress, the home audience may never know.
We can still get through the 47th Grammy Awards on Sunday. We just need to be creative. How about Grammy Bingo? Play alone or with friends. American Bingo Hall rules apply. Using supplies found around the home, create a 5 by 5 grid. Awards shows are fairly predictable. For example, Christina Aguilera will dress like a Martian hooker. Other things we just hope for. Motley Crüe got some cusswords past “Tonight Show” censors. Maybe it will happen at the Grammys! Randomly fill 24 spaces of your 5 by 5 card using the predictable and not-so predictable award show standards listed below. The center space is free— use it for something for-sure (i.e. Andre 3000 of Outkast looks fabulous). Mark each square as events transpire. The first person to get a straight or diagonal line gets to host the Oscars party.
The “I was robbed” rant. Made famous by Little Richard, the “robbed” maneuver was enacted last year by Best New Artist non-winner, 50 Cent. The shunned rapper wandered on stage as members of the winning band Evanescence accepted their award via video. This year, look to Kanye West, who stormed out of the American Music Awards in November after loosing Best New Artist to country singer Gretchen Wilson. Add to your card any other likely candidates.
Trash talk. Tacky couture is the constant of all awards shows. How else would Joan Rivers and her talent-free daughter Melissa pay the rent? For some reason, music gives celebs an excuse to dress the worst. The aforementioned Christina Aguilera is known for flesh-revealing and hideous attire (unless she’s performing “Beautiful.” Then she gets dressed.) And you can always count on Paris Hilton and Lil’ Kim. If Lindsay Lohan’s around, she’ll most likely showcase her new bosoms. In all fairness to the opposite gender, Andre 3000 exposed his nipples while performing “Hey Ya” last year. And a couple of those dudes in the Black Eyed Peas (nominated for Record of the Year) wear some pretty stupid outfits. Remember, when adding scantily-clad singers to your Grammy Bingo card, the few scraps of fabric they are wearing must be unfashionably unattractive.
Spot the “happy” couples. Rock’s prettiest pair, Gwen Stefani (No Doubt) and Gavin Rossdale (Bush) took a hit earlier this year when it was revealed that Gavin has a teenage lovechild from a previous tryst. Never mind that said tryst ended long before Gavin and Gwen met. The two are rumored to be as over as Brad and Jennifer. Extra points if either of these couples show up. On-the-down-low lovers Beyonce and Jay-Z count only if they act like they know each other. Include newly engaged Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz on your Bingo card, along with Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay’s Chris Martin (just in case they find a sitter for baby Apple).
Political commentary. Last year the head of the Grammys lectured our leaders about spending money on education and cultural enlightenment. With the presidential election over, one might hope this year’s partisan rants are keptto aminimum. Don’t hold your breath. REM isn’t nominated, but U2 (fronted by blowhard Bono) is. Further, Green Day’s “American Idiot” (nominated for both Record and Album of the Year) is political commentary all on its own. Include a square or two for filibusters.
Applause-O-Meter of Death. This is the only reliable way to find out which dead musician is the most popular dead musician. (Remember 2002’s all-star tribute to the late Joe Strummer?) This year, the smart money for a lengthy ovation goes to Ray Charles. Expect a close race with ODB, considering his youth and sudden death. Laura Branigan doesn’t stand a chance — but feel free to add her name to your Bingo card if you’re feeling lucky.
Britney Spear’s “Toxic” wins Best Dance Song. Cross your fingers and turn on the TiVO kids — this acceptance speech will be a keeper. No doubt Mrs. Federline will crumble in tears, ruin her mascara, refer to her husband as “Kevy-Wevy: The Love of My Life” and manage a shout-out to her dogs, Lacy, Lucky and Bit Bit. Britney also has the potential to cause as much controversy as you can with a five-minute delay by thanking both the Baby Jesus and Rabbi Yehuda Berg.
Miscellaneous squares. If there’s still room on your Bingo card, here are a few extras to add. Winners in the Rap genres thank both their producers and their maker. With “Taxi” co-star Queen Latifah as Grammys host, Jimmy Fallon makes one of his last public appearances before melting into oblivion. Mismatched presenters read awkward small talk from video monitors (as in last year’s Snoop Dogg and Jason “George from Seinfeld” Alexander). Erika Badu’s hair looks …um … interesting. Jokes include references to Ashlee Simpson, Anna Nicole Smith’s slurred presentation at the American Music Awards and — this one’s a long shot — the recent arrest of the drummer from Best New Artist nominees, Los Lonely Boys.
If these categories seem a little long to fit on your Bingo card, you can always fill it with your predicted winners … yawn. Remember kids, the Grammys are not about who wins or loses, or even about whether Usher removes his sunglasses. The Grammys are about watching an awards show because you don’t have cable.
Helen A.S. Popkin lives in New York and is a regular contributor to MSNBC.com.