"Hill's awards show that the Grammys can in fact pick deserving winners," says TIME correspondent Christopher John Farley. "They often reward people whom they've rewarded in the past, simply because they're supposed to be acclaimed artists. But this gives me hope for the future of the Grammys." Of course the industry's pundits may have some trouble decoding the genre-bending messages from Wednesday's award ceremony -- Shania Twain's close-cropped black-leather stylings confirmed that country music has wandered far from the range; Burt Bacharach picked up his third pop Grammy in as many decades; and Best Hip-Hop Album went to Jay-Z, who combined ghetto-reality lyrics with a chorus from the musical "Annie."
"It's funny how money changes situations," chants hip-hop ingenue Lauryn Hill on the album that won her five Grammy Awards. And the 23-year-old's record-breaking sweep confirms the point -- the music industry knows where its bread is buttered. With rap music traditionally confined to its own Grammy niche, Hill's breakthrough in such categories as Best Album and Best New Artist came after a year in which hip-hop acts sold twice as many albums as their rock 'n' roll counterparts.