Good evening everybody, and welcome to the live blog for the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, which are beaming live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Though a handful of awards have already been handed out, the big contests tonight will include only the biggest superstars in music, including Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Eminem and countless others.
Tonight will also be about the live performances, including an all-star tribute to the late Michael Jackson in addition to a surprise duet partner for Lady Gaga and a hip-hop tag-team with Lil Wayne, Drake, Travis Barker and Eminem. So stay right here for the blow-by-blow of music’s biggest night, and be sure to stay tuned to MTV News for the rest of the big stories coming out of tonight. And as always, make your voice heard in the comments below!
11:28 John Legend thanks us for watching and bids us goodnight. Thanks for hanging out and enjoying the show with us. Who were your favorite winners? Who got robbed? Who turned in the best performance? Let us know in the comments!
11:27 In something of an upset, Taylor Swift scores the prize for Album of the Year. “I hope that you know how much this means to me,” she says. She’s excited about taking the prize back to Nashville. She dedicates the award to her dad and thanks her mom.
11:24 Carlos Santana and John Legend come out, and Legend reminds us that Santana won a bunch of awards for Supernatural 10 years ago. They hand out the award for Album of the Year.
11:18 Also, it’s sometimes easy to forget what a great rapper Eminem is, and his double-time verse on “Forever” really proves that he’s a living legend.
11:14 Weezy opens up with “Drop the World.” Slim Shady shows up just in time to nail his verse, then the alarm sounds and Drake enters to kick off “Forever.” As he has repeatedly done in the past year, Drake spits fire, and Taylor Swift loves it.
11:11 It’s time for Quentin Tarantino. He big-ups Drake and introduces him, Lil Wayne, Eminem and Travis Barker.
11:03 Jeff Bridges comes out to talk some more about Les Paul. He then introduces Jeff Beck, who peels off a musical tribute to Paul with his signature song “How High the Moon.”
11:00 The “In Memoriam” montage includes tributes to Willie Mitchell, Kate McGarrigle, Teddy Pendergrass, DJ AM, Jay Bennett, Vic Chesnutt and Les Paul.
10:54 LL Cool J comes out to introduce Maxwell, who seduces the crowd with “Pretty Wings.”
10:46 Ricky Martin and Lea Michele take the stage to hand out the award for Best Female Vocal Performance. The hardware goes to Beyoncé for “Halo.”
10:40 Adam Sandler comes out to introduce the Dave Matthews Band, who take the stage to perform “You and Me.”
10:37 National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Neil Portnow comes out to give his annual speech about how great the Grammys are and all the work they do all year. He makes a case for music education in public schools and for compensating artists for their work (rather than downloading it illegally).
10:24 Wyclef Jean comes out to give us a lesson in Creole. He tells the crowd that the Haitian people are strong and he thanks the nation for their support. He introduces Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli (along with David Foster) for their Haiti-supporting version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (which you can download at iTunes in support of earthquake relief).
10:19 Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West win for “Run This Town,” a truly great song. Jigga thanks Kanye, Rihanna thanks Jigga and the kid who accompanies the pair (Solange’s son) only says “No thanks.”
10:16 Placido Domingo joins Mos Def on stage. Mos claims the two of them are going to collaborate on some Kanye tracks. (Mr. West: Make this happen now!) They hand out the Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
10:11 Bon Jovi move smoothly into “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” They get an assist from Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles, who originally sang with the band on the “country version” of this song back in 2006. They close with the fan-endorsed “Livin’ on a Prayer,” which sounds as anthemic and immediate as it did back in 1986.
10:10 New Jersey’s other favorite sons open with “We Weren’t Born to Follow,” from their latest album The Circle. In a graphic on the bottom of the screen, it appears as though “Always” is currently winning the fan voting.
10:08 Sheryl Crow (who has nine Grammys to her name) comes out to honor Universal Music CEO Doug Morris. Now it’s time for Bon Jovi — but which fan-voted song will they play?
10:00 Richie returns to introduce Michael’s children Prince and Paris. They accept a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of their father. In a touching moment, Paris simply says, “We love you, daddy.”
9:57 Whoa! Hummingbird!
9:52 Lionel Richie appears to talk about “We Are the World,” which is being recorded on Monday (February 1) to benefit Haiti. He then introduces Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” featuring Celine Dion, Usher, Carrie Underwood, Smokey Robinson and Jennifer Hudson. Put your 3D glasses on!
9:46 Ryan Seacrest introduces Taylor Swift, who performs her latest chart-stormer “Today Was a Fairytale.” She then introduces Stevie Nicks, and they tag-team on Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.” They move into a stripped-bare version of “You Belong With Me.”
9:35 Chris O’Donnell introduces the Zac Brown Band, who begin their performance with “America the Beautiful.” They then bring out legendary session man Leon Russell, who tickles the ivories before joining them on their hit “Chicken Fried.”
9:34 Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown scores the victory. It’s amazing to think that the same three guys who performed “Dominated Love Slave” at 924 Gilman are now respected members of the music business. And they still rock!
9:32 Katy Perry and Alice Cooper — together at last! Perry says Cooper taught her everything she needed to know about dressing like a lady. They are here to give out Best Rock Album.
9:27 Ke$ha and Justin Bieber remind everybody that voting is still open to decide what song Bon Jovi play, though Bieber says “Beyoncé” when he was supposed to say “Bon Jovi.”
9:25 Slash comes out to perform the solo to “November Rain” to end the performance. It’s officially chaos. At the end, Foxx says something about Auto-Tune to Jay-Z.
9:21 Robert Downey Jr. gets introduced as “the most self-important actor of his generation.” He introduces a wacky opera segment that ends up being the intro to Jamie Foxx (dressed as an officer in the Union Army — maybe he watched “Glory” before he came out?) and T-Pain (dressed as a big-haired orchestra conductor) singing “Blame It.” Rihanna gives it a standing ovation, as do Jay-Z and George Clinton.
9:19 In something of a minor upset, Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” takes the prize for Record of the Year. They acknowledge that they’re all a little drunk, but “happy drunk, so it’s OK.”
9:17 Norah Jones jokes about her shoes with Ringo Starr and acknowledges Bobby Darin’s Lifetime Achievement Award. It’s time for Record of the Year.
9:10 It’s time to give out the most important award of the night: Best Comedy Album. When was the last time this award was given out on the broadcast? Stephen Colbert wins for his Christmas album, which means we’re treated to an acceptance speech from the funniest man on television. “This is a Christmas album, so obviously I should thank Jesus Christ for having such a great birthday,” he says. He almost gets played off before he can give a shout-out to his daughter one more time.
9:05 The Jonas Brothers arrive to introduce Lady Antebellum, who perform “Need You Now.” Poor Hillary Scott gets a curtain dropped on her head, but she sounds angelic as always.
8:57 “I’mma Be” segues smoothly into “I Gotta Feeling, with a series of fan videos playing behind them. The group is flanked by people dressed like “Transformers” who spend half their time as turntables. Mazel tov!
8:54 Miley Cyrus rolls out to introduce the Black Eyed Peas, who burst out from underneath the stage. They open “I’mma Be” wearing black leather biker outfits. (It’s a cross between “Mad Max” and “Blade Runner,” with a little “Robocop” thrown in.)
8:46 Loretta Lynn also won a Lifetime Achievement Award. Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban move on to the award for Best New Artist. Our Grammy panel correctly predicted the winner: The Zac Brown Band.
8:44 How does Pink manage to keep singing while she spins like that? She gets doused with water and becomes a human sprinkler. No idea what this adds up to, but it’s visually stunning, especially considering her high-speed spin at the end. That nabs her a standing ovation, and it looks like Carlos Santana can barely believe it.
8:43 Pink opens with “Glitter in the Air” while wearing an all-white outfit that sort of looks like a boxing robe (but sexier). That gets dropped in favor of a skin-tight bodysuit, and it’s back to the air she goes!
8:39 Seal comes out to acknowledge Leonard Cohen’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He then introduces Pink. Can she top her high-flying VMA performance?
8:31 Beyoncé tips her hat to Grammy-winner Alanis Morissette with an extra-rocking version of “You Oughta Know.” It sounds awesome, but does Beyoncé know it was originally about former “Full House” star Dave Coulier?
8:29 Simon Baker, star of “The Mentalist,” introduces Beyoncé, who enters flanked by an army of dancers dressed like the LAPD SWAT team. Instead of breaking out her award-winning “Single Ladies,” she belts out “If I Were a Boy” (complete with crotch grabbing). This thing is loud and the crowd is going absolutely ape.
8:26 Taylor Swift takes home the prize for Best Country Album (as though there was any doubt). She is thrilled and surprised (as always). She says she’s “standing here accepting an impossible dream right now.”
8:24 Apparently, Bon Jovi is going to play whatever song gets voted on by fans. The nominees: “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “It’s My Life” and “Always.”
8:18 They acquitted themselves nicely, but the cast of “American Idiot” may have been undone by the fact that they were sharing the stage with Green Day, who sort of blew them away. Billie Joe Armstrong is a fountain of charisma, and it’s hard not to be eclipsed by him.
8:15 Jennifer Lopez introduces Green Day and the cast of “American Idiot” (the musical that hits Broadway in the spring). Cue the theatrical version of “21 Guns.”
8:12 Colbert announces the nominees for Song of the Year with the help of his iPad (which Jay-Z did not get in his gift bag). Beyoncé adds to her already giant armload of awards tonight with a win for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It).” The three non-Beyoncé songwriters accept for her because she’s preparing for a performance, which makes it more than a little anti-climatic.
8:11 Colbert on the Jonas Brothers: “I ran into the Jonas Brothers backstage. Or I ran into one Jonas Brother three times, I’m not sure.” On Susan Boyle: “Justin Timberlake may have brought the sexy back, but Susan Boyle sent it away this year. Goodbye, sexy! Your industry was saved by a 48-year-old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes.”
8:08 Stephen Colbert is here to shout out Taylor Swift and Jay-Z. Colbert introduces his teenage daughter and tries to explain to her who Jeff Beck is. “You know the game ‘Guitar Hero’? He has the all-time high score, and he’s never played it.” He closes with, “Have a good time, honey — just stay away from Katy Perry.”
8:06 After a brief sojourn into “Your Song,” Gaga closes the song by singing, “Thank you Sir Elton John!” Not quite the bloodbath she delivered at the VMAs, but then again, Elton John was wearing one wacky earring.
8:03 She stabbed herself at the VMAs, and this time Gaga meets her end via fire. But not even an inferno can keep her down, as she resurrects herself with the help of Elton John. They’re both covered in soot and sparkles, and they’re tag-teaming on “Speechless.” The rest of the show is going to have a hard time topping this.
8:00 Lady Gaga opens the show, and it’s already overwhelming. The stage is made up to look like an industrial plant called “The Fame Factory.” She appears on a platform wearing a crazy sparkly leotard and Ultimate Warrior makeup. Cue “Poker Face.” The crowd goes insane.
7:55 In case you missed it, get caught up with who looked hot and who was guilty of fashion crimes with the MTV Newsroom Blog’s Grammy red carpet live blog, brought to you by MTV News fashionista Jocelyn Vena. As she is wont to do, Lady Gaga clearly scored the Most Amazing Dress Award with her pointy, space-aged, no-way-can-she-sit-down ensemble.