Welcome to the 2011 Grammy Nominations Concert Live! from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. LL Cool J is hosting the hour-long event, with big names like Lady Gaga and Rihanna performing. Below, I will be live-blogging thoughts and a recap of the evening — the good, the bad, the ugly and the uglier.
Broadcast begins at 10 p.m. EST. Who will be the big names at the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012?
10:01 p.m. EST: Only an hour for this thing folks. And Lady Gaga is ready to “Marry the Night,” which LL Cool J takes no time to introduce.
10:03: After the melodramatic announcement that Laurieann Gibson was departing as Lady Gaga’s Creative Director, this performance is a U.S. “coming out” for Gaga’s next choreographer Richard Jackson. And It’s looking very slick, if a little monogamous. I mean, monotonous. The skeletal get-up has been done for “Born This Way,” but I’m glad this has gone the direction of “fun, active” living-dead, not “scary.”
10:05: Record of the Year… Nicki Minaj announcing. “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. Duh. “Holocene” by Bon Iver, pronounced by Nicki “Bon Ive-er.” “Grenade,” Bruno mars, “The Cave,” Mumford and Sons, Katy Perry, “Firework.”
10:06: “Firework’s” only there because “Teenage Dream” didn’t qualify anymore. Sad.
10:07: Rihanna’s performance of “We Found Love” is double-tracked, obviously so. But she showers in a rain of applause and confetti, and she is looking fine fine fine. Ri’s dancing entourage is feeling it. Looking forward to that Record of the Year nod… next year.
10:13: The Band Perry is literally sparkling, with sequins on sister Kimberly and a simple twee setup between the trio of mandolin, guitar and electric bass for newest country push “Independence.” The backers are keeping it subtle with a fiddle and drums. What, no skeletons?
10:16: If The Band Perry got a nod tonight, will this track get people excited for them? No. But you know what gets people AMPED? Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” To me, “Free Fallin'” and “Let’s Get It On” are in the same boat: if you cover it in your concert, it’s easy, cheap applause (even and especially if it’s too low for your voice).
10:18: Song of the Year: “All of the Lights” Kanye West. “The Cave,” Mumford. “Holocene,” Bon Iver (well said). “Rolling in the Deep” Adele. “Grenade” Bruno Mars.
10:21: So those are almost identical. It’s like a Bomb Pop. Tastes the same, without Katy Perry’s boobs shooting pyrotechnics out of one.
10:23: Jason Aldean’s guitarist is lunging like he’s playing something really hard.
10:25: You know what I needed at 10:30 at night? Some country rap on a midtempo rocker. And then some real rap on a midtempo rocker. I also look forward to in-ear monitor complaints.
10:28: Aldean looks uncomfortable with his body language, gripping that waist band like it’s Thanksgiving. But damn if this song isn’t still catchy. Ludacris shows up for the last “ride”; it looks more like he rolled into the wrong bar drunk and is owning it. He even picks at a Les Paul. Oh, bless you.
10:29: Did you know Luda’s last Grammy nom was in 2006?
10:30: Bruno Mars looks like he could fit in my pocket. Dude is tiny. We could go on little adventures together, y’know, on a “Lazy” day.
10:32: OK, so this guarantees another Mumford & Sons appearance at the 54th Grammys. Two major nods. They were the warm-up to Bob Dylan’s frog opus last year, will they get a two-song segment at the ceremony in February? If so, that’s two new songs, suckers, no more of this squeeze from a two-year-old album.
10:33: Best New Artist: The Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj (whose name is misspelled. BAD INTERN), Skrillex.
10:34: I predict 2,000 think-pieces on Bon Iver’s multiple nominations. I predict 3,000 “Who the F is Skrillex? A guide for your mom” pieces.
10:35: Hi Common. Hi Common. Hi Common.You’re pretty.
10:37: LL Cool J put on his performing hat, which is more obvious than his hosting hat. Grandmaster Flash is there with his legendary “Message,” with Scorpio, Melle Mel, Common, Lupe Fiasco and LL. They’re all celebrating 20 years of “The Message,” and its relevant to a new music celebration… how? Don’t get me wrong, I love a tribute, but aren’t we supposed to be thinking about our think pieces? This is an hour-long nominations special: nominate something.
10:38: Also, QUIT YELLING AT ME. I get it: you’re all close to the edge. Flash: Your skin is magnificent. Teach me.
10:43: In Memoriam, three months early. Usher never not wears sunglasses.
10:45: Ashford & Simpson getting a full break down. Leiber & Stoller getting theirs. “You’re All I Need to Get Bad” getting me a little choked, not because Usher is wincing, but because Valerie Simpson is stone solid. I’d lose it.
10:47: Even with a tepid crowd which hasn’t been properly warmed-up, “Stand By Me” is still so striking. As show producer Ken Ehrlich said before, “We lost two of the greatest songwriters of the formative rock and R&B era.” August was a sad time, losing Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford.
10:50: In the words of Chris Berman, Katy Perry is fumblin’ mumblin’ stumblin’ through this thing. Her hair and dress matching combo is, however, admirable.
10:51: Album of the year: Adele, “21.” Foo Fighters, “Wasting Light.” Lady Gaga, “Born This Way” (oh just shut up just stop it right now). Bruno Mars, “Doo Wops & Hooligans.” Rihanna, “Loud.”
10:52: Three singles artists for album of the year. This is the sound of haters hating. Bruno Mars’ label handlers are each getting a Maybach for Christmas: those suckers are only going up in value, now.
10:53: Lady Gaga and Sugarland, performing together! A match made… in a lab. Lady Gaga has moved that beauty mark around (did she see “The Artist?”). Jennifer Nettles is singing “You and I” like she can’t unpurse her lips.
10:55: Did I say pursed lips? I meant duck lips. In this oversinging competition, who’s winning? Are we all losing? Lady Gaga over-saturation quota achieved.
10:58: When I die, I’d like to come back as that one-shoulder number on Gaga. But when I wake up tomorrow morning, I’d like to be wearing Jennifer Nettles’ track pants.
11:00: Four major nomination categories announced, 78 total are up now.