Tonight, live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, it’s The Grammy Nominations Concert! (actually, the proper title is “The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! Countdown To Music’s Biggest Night” — double the exclamations points = double the excitement.) And the good folks at the Recording Academy aren’t just being all hyperbolic … there’s actually plenty to be excited about tonight, especially if you like John Mayer and Celine Dion!
No, that’s just the cynic in me talking. There’s plenty of drama ahead of us over the next hour —plus some performances, too. Will Mariah Carey cap off a disappointing year with a boatload of Grammy noms? How about Usher? How many noms can Coldplay expect to nab? And most importantly, how many nominees will you actually have heard of? So strap in, turn on the HD and get ready for a night of self-congratulatory mumbo-jumbo and faux humility!
9:00p.m. Boo, no “Criminal Minds” this week?!?!? Taylor Swift and LL Cool J are your hosts tonight (the former because she’s gonna get some noms, the latter because he presumably has nothing better to do), and look, it’s Mariah Carey and her moon boots! She’s performing a Christmas tune, clutching a diamond-studded mic and feeling it (the song, not the mic). We are told that LL has two “richly deserved” Grammy awards. To each his own. Taylor is stuggling to pronounce the “Nokia” in Nokia Theatre
9:06p.m. Ne-Yo is out to announce the nominees for Best New Artist. We are reminded that the Beatles won this this award. Well, so did Men At Work. Anyway, he gets right to the point … the noms for Best New Artist are: Adele, Duffy, the Jonas Brothers (“EEEEE!”), Lady Antebellum (who is not a woman), and Jazmine Sullivan (who?)
9:10p.m. We’re back from commercial and LL is talking to the Jonas Brothers, who say they are “Shaken up” by their Grammy nom. They are honored and happy to be here. These guys are more on-message than the Bush Administration. LL then calls them “brothers” which works on a few levels, but kind of makes me feel weird inside.
9:13p.m. My first battle with technical difficulties of the night! I hate the future. Anyway, Celine Dion is out now, and she manages to make even black leather trousers boring. ZZZZZZZzzzzzz. She dives right into the noms for Album of the Year … Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s Raising Sand, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III, (woah!) Radiohead’s In Rainbows, and Ne-Yo’s Year Of The Gentleman.
9:22p.m. Three of the five Album of the Year noms are actually somewhat deserving of the honor … nice work, Academy. Meanwhile, the Foo’s ramble out to do a cover of “You’re So Vain.” I think that song is about Warren Beatty.
9:26p.m. Feedback! Foos! And the nominees for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals. Dave Grohl tells us that, once upon a time, Ike and Tina Turner won this award … I hope it works out better for whomever is nominated this year.
9:27p.m. Your Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals nominees: Alicia Keys and John Mayer, “Lessons Learned,” Madonna, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, “Four Minutes,” Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, “Rich Woman,” Rihanna and Maroon Five, “If I Never See Your Face Again,” and Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown, “No Air.” AAAAND, the nominees for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group, but, hey, you can read about that somewhere else. Special note: Dave Grohl reads all the Country noms with a faux twang. Dave Grohl is awesome.
9:30p.m. Christina Aguilera does a song from “Porgy & Bess.” Her hair is pixie-ish in the front, “Mad Men” in the back.
9:36p.m. LL gives Taylor Swift a pep talk. She’s performing right after this commercial break! They pinkie swear for no particular reason.
9:38p.m. Taylor slinks onto stage to belt Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry.” We’re, like, one pouty expression, hair tousle or “Boop-Boop-Be-Boop” vocal flourish away from having to call Chris Hansen. Swift’s backing band consists of a guitarist who could charitably be described as “Nikki Sixx’s wussy cousin.” Oh, and then Taylor lays the noms for the Best Rap Performance By Duo Or Group … Big Boi feat. Raekwon and Andre 3000, “Royal Flush,” Jay-Z and T.I., feat. Kanye West and Lil Wayne, “Swagger Like Us,” Lil Wayne feat. Jay-Z, “Mr. Carter,” Ludacris feat. T.I., “Wish You Would,” and Young Jeezy feat. Kanye West, “Put On.” Taylor is endlessly proud of herself for making it through all those tricky names.
9:45p.m. This “Clint Eastwood Battles An Asian Street Gang” movie could redefine the term “unintentionally hilarious.” Or the term “racially insensitive.” You know, either/or.
9:48p.m. We’re 3/4 of the way through this thing, and there hasn’t been one shudder-inducing moment yet … and then, as if on cue, we’re back from break and Recording Academy President Neil Portnow is standing next to Taylor Swift! They exchange some grating banter (Neil: “Nominees from all 110 categories can be viewed on Grammy.com!” Taylor: “I know I’m going to check it out!”), tout the importance of the Grammy awards, and flog the brand-new Grammy museum. (Taylor calls it “amazing.”) OH, and then B.B. King and John Mayer start to trade guitar solos … I KNEW YOU WOULDN’T LET ME DOWN, GRAMMYS!
9:51p.m. John Mayer’s scarf-erchief says “sensitive artist guy.” His sleeve of tattoos scream “muscly frat guy prowling Lake Havasu at 3 a.m.” He truly is an enigma.
9:57p.m. The enigma announces the nominees for Record of the Year: Adele’s “Chasing Pavements,” Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love,” MIA’s “Paper Planes,” Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s “Please Read The Letter.” One of these things is not like the other …
9:59p.m. Wait, is this thing over? Did they just skip the nominees for Song of the Year? Weird … well, anything to get another Mayer/King duet onto the telecast, I suppose.
10:01p.m. Yeah, I guess that’s it, because now a half-naked Heidi Klum is cavorting around on my TV. Final thoughts? Well, Coldplay, Duffy and Alicia Keys weren’t big surprises, though I’m happy to see Radiohead, M.I.A. and Lil Wayne get some love too (sounds like someone at the Academy let their web-savvy 12-year-old cast their ballot this year), and the concert wasn’t a complete trainwreck. Oh, and I learned that there is actually one woman in Lady Antebellum. So, all in all … a smashing success. Now I’m off to assemble Ikea furniture. Life is rich indeed.