With a nod to Bill Simmons and every other writer who’s done this before for any number of major events, I kept a running diary of last night’s inexplicably “tape-delayed on the West Coast” Grammy Awards which took place — you guessed it — on the West Coast. At Staples Center in Los Angeles, to be specific.
Prior to the immediately overhyped and not wholly shocking death of former pop great Whitney Houston at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday night, the 54th Grammys looked more intriguing than normal, with Bruce Springsteen slated to open the show with his scathing new populist anthem “We Take Care Of Our Own,” tributes to a re-formed Beach Boys and Alzheimer’s-stricken Glen Campbell, and the return to the stage of current music “it” girl Adele from throat surgery five months ago on a night she was expected to be showered with Grammys for her album, “21,” and more specifically, the thundering blue-eyed soul of its biggest hit, “Rolling In The Deep.”
The West Coast tape delay made a live blog from someone who lives less than a dozen miles from the Staples Center seem silly. So, instead, I kept a running tab and turned it into a diary. So … let’s get going!
7:59 p.m.: It’s me and my laptop and CBS here for the Grammys. And a local news promo with a shot of the Beverly Hilton touting, “Stars backstage at the Grammys remember Whitney, tonight at 11.” Of course, CBS2. Of course.
8:01: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, “America, are you alive out there?” And there’s a 99.9% chance it’s ALL downhill from here.
8:02: The Grammys are the only way the E Street Band would ever appear at Staples Center nowadays. Can’t wait for the L.A. Sports Arena on April 27.
8:04: “We Take Care of Our Own.” More of a challenge than a statement of fact.
8:05: Audible “Bruuuuuuuces” from the industry-laden crowd. Must’ve been as good in the house as it was on TV.
8:06: LL Cool J leads a prayer for Whitney Houston. Doin’ it, doin’ it and doin’ it well.
8:07: How’d Lady Gaga get that giant staff past security? And what the hell does she need with it?
8:10: LL Cool J is creeping on Adele in his opening … And now he’s a football coach giving a pre-game pep-talk.
8:12: Bruno Mars, impressive Motown vibe — and Morrissey haircut. Also, we now have had about a half-dozen more folks singing live (counting background singers) in the first 12 minutes of the Grammys than in the entire Super Bowl halftime last week.
8:15: Bruno’s no James Brown, but he’s a pretty bad man, it appears.
8:20: Alicia Keys stole Bruno Mars’ hair.
8:22: A couple of great voices — Keys and Bonnie Raitt — in salute of Etta James, and now, awkwardly, they will get up to present an award.
8:23: A thought for Lady Gaga: Being yourself really doesn’t require such hard work.
8:24: Bruno Mars flipped his shit there. Wow, way to not lose gracefully.
8:25: Is Lil’ Wayne holding a miniature skateboard? Does he have any idea who Adele is? How high is he? So many questions.
8:26: What sport did Chris Brown letter in at Brown High? Boxing? Also, it appears our “live singing” streak has been broken at two acts.
8:27: Chris, I’m pretty sure the music is turned up.
8:29: I wonder if his performance dragged on like this the night he smacked Rihanna around?
8:35: America, collectively: “I can see Fergie’s underwear!”
8:35: Thanks, Marc Anthony, for definitively agreeing with Fergie’s LL Cool J statement. You added as much to this presentation as you likely did to J-Lo’s career.
8:37: Reba? When did the broadcast suddenly switch over to the WB?
8:37: I think I know why this is music’s biggest night? Because you keep telling us so! Of course, when two of the biggest current talents around (Kanye and Jay-Z) don’t show, it’s a bit tougher sell.
8:38: To speak generally, the majority of current-day pop country music flat out sucks.
8:39: Quite a crash diet Kelly Clarkson’s been on since her SNL appearance. Girl can sing, but it’d be nice if she made better career decisions.
8:41: To Kelly and the dude in the cowboy hat: I only want to stay a little while if you put on another song that doesn’t sound like some focus group of producers crafted it to cynically sell singles on iTunes.
8:42: Hey, voiceover girl, is Adele coming up? What about Katy Perry?
8:47: Why do they always send the Foo Fighters outside Staples?
8:48: Dave Grohl’s Slayer t-shirt rules.
8:49: I love rock-and-roll. And the Foos know how to do it. Well. And all while walking the fine line of street cred and mass popularity.
8:56: No one loves a “Grammy moment” like LL loves a “Grammy moment.” Sell Sell Cool J.
8:57: Alert: I’m a dude who likes Coldplay, so I probably won’t be as harsh about this next stretch as you’d expect.
8:58: Rihanna just got HECTIC! And in the role of Matt Kemp, this dude in black leather.
9:00: Did they really just give Chris Martin a super? Did they think we were all in an epileptic seizure after Rihanna and couldn’t figure out who he was?
9:01: Coldplay in dayglo.
9:03: Yep, I’m still looking forward to May 4 at the Hollywood Bowl. And not afraid to admit it.
9:09: Chipotle ad: Willie Nelson? VERY nicely played. And now I feel better about my burrito bowls.
9:11: That’s Mario FUCKING Manningham to you.
9:15: How perfectly appropriate and true to what this show is really about: In the middle of a passionate Dave Grohl speech about the true value of heart, soul, talent and musicianship, the Grammys play him off with some LMFAO and introduce the talentless, inoffensive-t0-the-point-of-offense robot Ryan Seacrest. Now THAT is a REAL Grammy moment.
9:16: And now Seacrest took Bruno Mars’ hair from Alicia Keys.
9:18: Nice touch by Adam Levine and the kids from Foster the People on the striped shirt homage to early Beach Boys’ TV appearances. Not generally a Maroon 5 guy but a solid effort by both groups.
9:20: I don’t fucking need Ryan Seacrest to sell me on the Beach Boys. It’s THE BEACH BOYS.
9:24: Good lord, I hope dealing with Mike Love for the next year doesn’t kill Brian Wilson. Love is SUCH a tool.
9:25: Who knew John Legend was a closet Beach Boys freak?
9:31: Stevie Wonder with the harmonica — always a crowd pleaser.
9:34: Paul McCartney — selling records like Hallmark sells cards! Joe Walsh — not high? Diana Krall — how much are they paying me for this?
9:36: Did Common beat down Drake for this Taraji P. Henson pairing? And just how many Taraji Hensons are there that she needs that P. in there?
9:37: Taraji, if this is the revolution being televised, we’re all more screwed than I could possibly imagine.
9:38: Nice half hug from Taraji for Chris Brown, no doubt hoping he didn’t beat her over the head with that Grammy.
9:38: The Civil Wars aren’t funny. But, they may be musically talented.
9:40: And now for five one-liners on Taylor Swift’s performance.
9:40: Taylor Swift, coming to you live from the Great Recession.
9:41: Taylor Swift, new lead singer for Mumford & Sons.
9:41: Taylor Swift, poor but frisky.
9:42: Taylor Swift, symbolizing pure sex for the Dust Bowl set.
9:43: Taylor Swift, now with Mildred Pierce on fiddle.
9:45: Please, Taylor, stop acting age-13-level stunned every time people cheer for you. You’ve sold a zillion records and won a bunch of awards. It’s just not remotely believable anymore.
9:51: Fergie is THRILLED for everyone! Hacienda Heights in the house!
9:52: Adele and her writer are so freakin’ British! Very enjoyable.
9:53: Holy Moses, Kate Beckinsale is HOT.
9:53: Katy Perry has nothing remotely original. Amazing, I know. We Will Rock You? Really?
9:54: I was hoping my TV was breaking, but it was part of the show. Dammit.
9:55: No shock here: divorce is a career move. What professional songwriter decided what her feelings about it were and set them to music for her?
9:55: Stamos on guitar. That dude knows how to move in on the needy one quick. Good work, Uncle Jessie.
9:56: Yep, Taraji, this sure is the revolution. The revolution of pap. FIRE! FIRE!
9:59: How many nominees are in the country category? As many kids as there are in the average home that owns these records?
10:02: Girl Scouts thin mints! FTW!
10:04: The talking Tostitos bag is stupid and creepy and annoying. I know I’m late. Just wanted to be on record.
10:06: Could we have had it all? Blue-eyed soul, indeed.
10:17: The Band Perry – emo country dudes and one helluva skirt.
10:19: The banjo girl wants to get it in with Blake Shelton.
10:21: Every time they show Lady Gaga, she appears to have no clue who anyone is, nor perhaps even where she is. I can’t believe the tuna nets finally caught her.
10:23: Rhinestone Cowboy is pretty stellar. Except for the emo country kid with the drawstring cords.
10:23: To go back to my previous point about current-day country pop: see how well Glen Campbell did it in the 1960s and 1970s without appealing directly and overtly to its culture’s lowest common denominators?
10:31: I’d love to see Bennett make a move on Underwood right now.
10:32: Boom! The hand around the waist! Bring it, Tony!
10:33: And Nicki Minaj is brutally disappointed by Bon Iver’s triumph. But she didn’t go all Bruno Mars, at least.
10:34: Bon Iver, bringing the awkward back. Also, we didn’t have to listen to him thank Jesus or Whitney. Sweet hookup!
10:43: Clarence Clemons, miss you big man.
10:43: Um, who forgot to cut Etta James and Don Cornelius into the “In Memoriam”?
10:43: And now, Jennifer Hudson doing what she does best: singing other people’s songs.
10:46: Goddamit, Paul McCartney. You’re JBL’s valentine. Say, say, say.
10:51: Chris Brown is, um, slightly overexposed at this event. And apparently trying out for Run DMC.
10:52: I’m not going to Miami for another 10 days, but if I turn the lights off, turn the TV up, and down a 5-hour and three Makers-on-the-rocks, I can feel like I am already there right now.
10:55: Can someone get Lil’ Wayne over to that Foo Fighters stage, STAT?
10:58: DeadMau5 is freaking me out. But that blonde is hoping Grohl notices her, really badly.
11:00: Have we reached the 55th Grammy Awards yet?
11:04: Yep, Common won the rap battle. Drake had no Taraji — or anyone else — to join him for his Nicki Minaj intro.
11:05: You know what else is not well, old lady? Whatever’s happening right now on CBS.
11:06: Hey, let’s go to Rome! Um, or not.
11:09: Nicki Minaj must’ve really had some odd experiences in Catholic school.
11:10: I have nothing else snarky, sarcastic, witty or otherwise to add about Nicki Minaj’s “performance.” I’m not offended by it or confused by it. It just wasn’t very good.
11:11: The glasses guy in Lady Antebellum is a douche.
11:12: Silvio Dante, with the front row hookup.
11:19: And a special welcome to Diana Ross’ hair!
11:20: Is Rihanna dressed as a crack whore tonight? Is that her way of saluting the memory of those departed?
11:21: I feel like Adele is the actual kind of nice that Taylor Swift is always trying so hard to portray.
11:23: Paul McCartney is LL’s homie. Enough said.
11:24: The Golden Slumbers medley TOTALLY makes up for that lame Valentine song. And then some.
11:27: Dave Grohl, Joe Walsh and Bruce Springsteen join on guitar. Now, this would qualify as a “moment,” Grammys or not.
11:30: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Few better ways to close than that.
*Images courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and the Los Angeles Times.