We’re opening with a tribute to Aretha Franklin. It makes me temporarily worried that she has died. She is being introduced by LL Cool J.
Usher’s date is Justin Bieber. They are sitting in the front row. You can see Justin from any overhead shot because he is wearing a white tuxedo. Everyone else is wearing black. Everyone.
Aretha is being saluted by the quintet of Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Yolanda Adams, Florence Welch and Christina Aguilera. Everyone is singing hard enough to fuck up their wigs, which intense. Christina is notable for going first and singing the longest, by far. Florence Welch is notable for totally holding her own with America’s foremost divas. Jennifer Hudson is notable for showing off her new body in a very short suit jacket and leggings.
The crowd cam goes to Rihanna who is wearing white Christmas tree garlands hot glued to a tube of illusion netting.
The nominees for Pop Duo or Group are all people I don’t like, and the award went to Train. Katie is fast forwarding.
OMG. RICKY MARTIN IS WEARING A BLACK JACKET AND SHINY SILVER JEANS. He is gay now, so they have him introducing Gaga. She comes out of a womb and everyone is wearing sheets of latex, it looks like. The dancing is weird and good, but not sexy. The thing that fascinates me about Gaga is her complete disinterest in looking hot. Oh, she’s running to an organ. And playing that big scary piece that they always play in Vincent Price movies.
Lenny Kravitz comes out to introduce Muse and he is wearing a half a bolt of random suede draped around his shoulders. The crowd camera cuts to Elvis Costello, who is skeptical. Muse is doing the version of “The Resistance” from their stage show, only there are actors running around below them and fake fighting or something. It’s awks. Dear Grammys: Let Muse be Muse. Trust me, their show is big enough to stand on its own.
Bruno Mars, B.o.B. and Janelle Monae are performing together. Whoa! I have not seen Bruno Mars lately. He’s got this old school Little Richard pompadour.
Let me let Katie take this part. “THAT IS B.O.B. IN A MONOCLE. THAT IS B.O.B. IN A MONOCLE. THAT IS B.O.B. AND HE IS WEARING A MONOCLE.”
When we get to Bruno Mars’ section of this, they start showing it in black and white, because they’re “taking us back.” It’s mostly talking and really swinging, like a Rudy Vallee song, but in reality it’s “Grenade.” When Janelle sings, Bruno hops on drums and B.o.B. grabs a guitar. This is kind totally adorable. She also crowd surfs in the middle of her song. It cuts afterward to Cyndi Lauper, who is hollering from her seat.
They show the early youtube videos of Bieber. He’s onstage with his guitar and Usher strolls out talking about how they met in a parking lot. It is the uber creep. Then Ninjas come out playing marching band drums. He performs while gymnasts and fire breathers run around. Then Jaden Smith comes running out in leopard pants and they rap while Jaden’s mom sings along and is adorable. Why they didn’t bring out Willow, who is actually opening for Bieber. Then Usher brings a bunch of dancers in blue suede suits and then there is dancing and it is good dancing, because it is Usher. Then Bieber dances with him, and that is very good too.
I’m already thinking about the new thing. Pauley Perrette and some guy come out to present with what’s left of Paramore. Hayley Williams is wearing a dress that is black netting across the midriff and hot pink marabou around the thighs. It’s worse than it sounds. They give the best rock album award to Muse, obviously.
The CBS parade of stars continues with Donny Wahlberg presenting with Selena Gomez. Donny is wearing sunglasses and Selena looks bored. This is a Bieber category, Best Pop Album, but the award goes to Gaga for The Fame Monster. It’s technically an EP, but whatever! She’s got a black plastic dress with molded boobs and a molded butt!
David Letterman appears on pre-tape to give a Top 10 List (I thought we were over those as a people) and introduces Mumford & Sons, whose banjo player is wearing a trucker cap and a tux and spends the whole time simulating coitus with his banjo. But they are fun and intense as heck. Right after them is the Avett Brothers, who look asleep in comparison. This whole thing is under-rehearsed. The curtain in the middle comes up and Bob Dylan shuffles out with his bluegrass band clustered around him like they’re Nation of Islam bodyguards. Bob has to clamber over an upright bass. But the boys in Mumford and Avett look like they’re gonna pee with excitement over playing backup for Bob Dylan. The crowd cam cuts to J.Lo, who looks murderous with rage.
This year, they’re doing Lifetime Achievement awards as one little announcement. They don’t even go into accomplishments. Lea Michele and a very confused Green Bay Packer introduce Lady Antebellum.
Miley Cyrus and the Kings of Leon (minus the one who actually lives in LA) present Best Country Album. Caleb Followill looks like his mom is making him do this.
Cee-Lo is performing in a sort of psychedelic Elton John rooster costume, on a set like that looks like a kids show set on Mars. But his backing band and dancers are all muppets. The second verse is done by Gwyneth in a catsuit cut down to her navel, pink feather earrings and six inch heels. She climbs up on his bejeweled piano and they just sing at each other. It’s actually really adorable, like they’re drunk and singing karaoke.
I like Katy Perry’s eyeshadow. Beyond that, eh. She is on a swing with a giant train that is a screen on which they show video of her actual wedding. This would be a really fitting tribute if Russell was dead. Russell is not dead, so it’s kind of creepy. The crowd cam catches Nicole Kidman singing along to “Teenage Dream.”
John Mayer and Keith Urban play acoustic guitar and Norah Jones sings Jolene. Norah has obviously listened to this a lot, because she sounds EXACTLY like Dolly. Also, this is kind of a 60 second tribute to Dolly, who was listed in the lifetime thing, but doesn’t appear to be there, and now they’re presenting Song of the Year. “Fuck You” is listed as “(The song otherwise known as ‘Forget You’.)” Lady Antebellum wins. Katie says that’s incorrect and I have to agree.
Rihanna is performing in a skirt that is about eight feet across and really raggedly cut away to reveal yellow underskirts.
People who died, the Grammy’s philanthropic efforts, a James Brown sort of performance by Mick Jagger, who gets progressively more decrepit over the course of his five minute song. Barbra Streisand sings in about 700 yards of raisin colored netting. Eminem is given an award and still looks hostile. How can you look hostile while on stage holding a Grammy?
In other places, The Black Keys won the album for best packaging. That is amazeballs. This is the package:
Rihanna is back again, booty dancing in front of a big bonfire with Drake. Because she’s Carribbean. If you forgot.
Lady Antebellum has fucking swept this thing. I think that it’s that the rappers have split the rap vote and the rockers have split the rock vote, but without the presence of Taylor Swift, the country vote is locked.
Jason Segel seems genuinely excited to be introducing Arcade Fire. For some reason, their lighting design is just very bright lights flashing at the audience, so they are hard to see. William Buttler did not get the memo that they weren’t wearing coveralls today. There are also kids on BMX bikes riding around and they have cameras on their heads, which they show on TV. I think the Fire is rebelling against being adopted into the mainstream, since they play “Month of May” in these flashing lights and have filled in the background with random hooting.
YOU GUYS! Arcade Fire won the Album of the Year. They give a short speech, then run back to the instruments they just put down and play “Ready to Start.” It seems unlikely that it’s spontaneous, but it might be. Win Butler can’t stop smiling. It is adorable. Katie is feeling real emotion, which she was not expecting to, but it’s so cute. They are so happy! Then there are tacklehugs. Best Grammy moment everrrr.