God, the Grammys are so gross. I make a lot of jokes about bad award shows, but this is the worst. Not only are all the nominees just really aggressively out-of-touch and terrible, but half of this crap came out in 2009. I could swear some of this same stuff was nominated last year. Plus, there are the oddities like Arcade Fire being nominated in the Album of the Year category but not in the Best Rock Album category. I don’t even understand what the rules are here. This is either going to be a lot of fun to laugh at or one of the longest nights of my life.
As always, my wife Johanna and I will be competing in a winner-picking competition. This should be an interesting one for us, because the list of nominees is so utterly bizarre that we’re guaranteed to not do what we usually do and pick the same people in every category. I’ve got to tell you, picking winners in this disaster was painful. It upset my stomach to have to decide between, like, Neil Young and Mumford and Sons. And not because they are both so good. [Update: Turns out Mumford and Sons = Not bad!] Johanna kept saying things like “Whatever, whatever, I don’t even care,” as she went over her ballot.
To help ease us through this living nightmare Johanna has whipped up an adult beverage consisting of vodka, cranberry juice, seltzer, and lime juice. She’s calling it “The Chris Brown” because it really smacks you in the face. YOU SHOULDN’T MAKE JOKES ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, JOHANNA.
Sigh. Are you all ready to be bored by Lady Gaga’s faux-edginess? To suffer through some performances by Bruno Mars or someone? To watch your grandparents’ favorite rockers take home some awards? Then let’s do this. In the words of Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, sit back, relax, and strap it down.
8:01 – This is weird. Doesn’t this usually start with a big musical number? Like, they just jump right into it? I know last year started with the Lady Gaga/Elton John/My Nightmares mashup. This year Ladies Love Cool James strolls out to introduce a menagerie of women to sing a tribute medley of Aretha Franklin songs.
So it begins. Here’s Florence Welch from Florence + The Machine, Christina Aguilera, a very fit looking Jennifer Hudson, and two other people (“Martina McBride?” offers Johanna). This show is going to be really boring, isn’t it? Be honest. I won’t judge you.
Check out how Florence gets a special golden microphone! You know, for her golden voice!
I guess the last unnamed person is Yolanda Adams? I have no idea whom that is. (Speaking of “whom,” you guys would tell me if I was using it incorrectly, right? I’m constantly having to think about it!)
I have to say, other than Florence, I’m not a particular fan of any of these women, but they really can sing. Good choices, Grammys! I guess Aretha is sick, so she had to pre-record a message in the lobby of a really tacky 1980s South Beach hotel.
Get well soon, Aretha!
8:19 – The same five ladies are back to present Best Pop Performance by a Group or Duo with Vocals. What a mouthful.
Johanna says she briefly considered picking “Hey, Soul Sister (Live)” by Train, but couldn’t bring herself to do it. She ended up going with Sade, after saying “Is Sade a group? I thought Sade was a person.” I had no Train qualms, though, and picked them. I love how they specify that it’s the live version of the song. “You guys, you haven’t REALLY heard Train until you’ve heard them LIVE!” – The Grammy Committee.
YESSSSS! TRAIN WINS! 1-0 me! What Johanna failed to understand is that to win a Grammy picking competition you just have to choose whichever nominee is the most painful. In other news, the collective age of the three members of Train is like 200.
8:23 – You guys, guess what? Ricky Martin is wearing jeggings on national TV.
He’s introducing Lady Gaga, who, of course, is being wheeled onstage inside of a giant *yawn* egg. All I can think about here is that scene in This is Spinal Tap where Harry Shearer’s character gets stuck in the plastic cocoon thing on stage.
Let’s leave aside the fact that Lady Gaga is basically daring us to accuse her of stealing from Madonna at this point:
And focus instead on how far she’s come in a year. During last year’s opening number I commented that I liked all of her songs but didn’t really expect her to win any Grammys. Now I sort of hate her, I think? I don’t want to, but I can’t really help it. And she’ll probably clean up. “She’s so gross!” says Johanna, referring, I think, to the shoulder enhancements.
8:33 – Another person I don’t know. I think the announcer said “Lake Shelton” or something? Anyway, he’s engaged to yet another person I don’t know, Miranda Lambert. The world of country music is an enigma to me.
You know, I could probably describe my musical taste by saying that I like a bit of everything except for country, but I generally don’t do that because I don’t want to be the type of person who would say that he likes everything but country music. But I’m kind of thinking that is a valid opinion to have. Because country music isn’t real music, sort of? It all sounds the same and really bad. I mean, I’m sure some of it is better than this song she’s singing right now, but what she’s singing right now is clearly music for dumb people. No other genre of music is so predictable and insulting to the intelligence of its fans. Sorry, country fans.
8:39 – Here comes Lenny Kravitz, attempting to make up for his lack of dreads by wearing whatever this vest is.
He’s introducing Muse. So Muse is pretty good, I guess? And this stage set up is pretty awesome. But did you see that they were one of the three leaked Lollapalooza headliners, along with the Foo Fighters and Eminem? Boooorrrrrrrinnng.
8:49 – Ryan Seacrest is introducing Janelle Monaé, B.o.B., and Bruno Mars. This could be interesting, I guess?
“Is Bruno Mars a real person?” asks Johanna, “he looks like a cartoon.” I would have gone with muppet, myself.
Bruno Mars is quickly forgotten, however. You know why? Because B.o.B. is wearing a monacle. That’s why.
Also, Janelle Monaé is surprisingly committed to this hairdo, huh?
We’ve gone black and white so that Bruno can play up his old-timeyness. And you know what? This is really working. I actively dislike the song “Grenade,” but I am actively liking the version that’s happening right now.
I’ve said before, multiple times, that Janelle’s song “Cold War” reminds me a lot of “Going On” by Gnarls Barkley, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. I love it. It’s so exciting!
Also, guess what? Bruno Mars is playing drums now! “I MIGHT have a little bit of a crush on Bruno Mars,” says Johanna. That was a quick turnaround from when she thought he looked like a cartoon three paragraphs ago.
8:57 – More country people, Dierks Bentley and Zac Brown. Dierks Bentley looks like what would happen if Bradley Cooper had a baby with a 1980s professional wrestler.
They’re presenting Best Female Country Vocal. We both went with Carrie Underwood, because otherwise, what, Jewel? LeAnn Rimes? That woman from earlier, Miranda Lambert, wins and says “I love country music.” That makes one of us. Can’t we farm this out to the CMAs? Moving along.
9:03 – Here’s what just happened with Johanna: “Is it wrong of me to buy ‘Party In The U.S.A.’ by Miley Cyrus on iTunes? Is that weird? [plays sample of song] This is catchy, right? I’m going to buy it.”
9:05 – Eva Longoria is introducing Justin Bieber. She mentions a celebrity discovered him, and I say, “Who discovered him again?” and you should have heard the way Johanna said, “USHER!” It was the most dripping with “duh-I-can’t-believe-you-didn’t-know-that” tone I’ve ever heard in my life. Oh, Johanna.
Anyway, this interaction between Usher and Biebs is creepy right? At the very least awkward. Definitely awkward. But kind of creepy, too?
They’re sitting there reminiscing about the past four year WAIT OH SHIT JUSTIN LOOK OUT! IT’S SUB-ZERO AND THE MORTAL KOMBAT GANG!
This is crazy. Jaden Smith just came flying out of the stage like Slash at the Super Bowl. “That startled me when he popped up like that!” – Johanna.
Take a good look, girls, because it’s all downhill from here.
Out of the way, kids, it’s Usher time. This is basically just the Super Bowl halftime show with Biebs subbing in for the Black Eyed Peas and Jaden Smith replacing Slash. Upgrade, I think?
9:13 – The goth girl from N.C.I.S. is here with Hayley Williams. Johanna thinks the musical notes on the goth girl’s dress are a bit literal. I’m busy trying to figure out what’s going on with Hayley.
They’re presenting Best Rock Album. I went with Pearl Jam’s Backspacer, because 2011 seems like the right time for the Grammy Committee to discover Pearl Jam. Johanna went with Muse, which is never going to happen because those guys are in their early thirties. No band that is even close to being young or relevant is allowed to win this award. EXCEPT IT TURNS OUT I WAS WRONG! Muse wins! Way to make me look like an idiot, Grammys! We’re tied, 1-1.
These guys do not look like rock stars. They don’t even look like British rock stars. I guess they do sort of look like how their music sounds, though.
9:20 – Here’s Selena Gomez, looking a bit like Rachel Bilsen, and Donnie Wahlberg, looking a lot like Donnie Wahlberg.
So they’re presenting Best Pop Vocal Album and somehow Susan Boyle is nominated? Really? Surely you’re pulling my leg, Grammy Committee. Johanna went with Teenage Dream by Katy Perry, and I went with The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga, which wins. I’ve got to say, I’m glad to go up 2-1, but I don’t feel good about this one. Isn’t The Fame Monster not even a real album? It’s an EP, right? Anyway, she’s wearing this:
As Johanna said, “Isn’t it funny that she’s been sitting on that all night?” Also, did you guys know that people didn’t used to believe in Lady Gaga, but she had a dream and proved them wrong? Has she mentioned that to you before? I can’t remember if she’s ever said that over and over and over again.
9:26 – I’ve made fun of Mumford and Sons in the past. I know nothing about them, but they have a funny name. They sound pretty good here, though! Something tells me the banjo player thinks of himself as “the fun one.”
Next up, the Avett Brothers. Also pleasant! This show has taken a turn for the mildly enjoyable!
Finally, Bob Dylan comes shambling out on to the stage, looking very much like a person who went on a nursing home field trip to the mall and got lost.
OK, REAL TALK TIME. Bob Dylan is notoriously bad live, and you will get a lot of people telling you he does it on purpose to toy with the audience, or because he’s tired of his songs and likes to fool around with them. Nope. Not true. Bob Dylan is bad live because he’s a tired old man with a thin voice who isn’t very good at playing music anymore. Yes, it’s sad, Dylan fans, but face facts. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
9:39 – Here’s Lea Michelle with Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers. You have my personal guarantee that Clay Matthews watches professional wrestling. I’m sure of it.
They’re introducing a performance by Lady Antebellum. Time for me to make a new drink.
9:44 – It’s weird that nowadays it sort of makes sense for Miley Cyrus and Kings of Leon to be presenting together. Remember Aha Shake Heartbreak?
They’re presenting Best Country Album. This is officially the CMAs. We both went with Lady Antebellum, and they win, so the score is 3-2. Remember up above when I was being really obnoxious and hating on country music? Well, I said then that I’m sure some of it is OK, and this Lady Antebellum song is OK. It’s sort of catchy.
9:46 – Ladies and gentleman, ACADEMY AWARD WINNER Jamie Foxx! Here to introduce Cee-Lo with special guest ACADEMY AWARD WINNER Gwyneth Paltrow! A-LISTERS, people. MOVIE STARS. Show some respect.
This song is so great, even this neutered version. Also, unlike the rest of the internet, I don’t hate Gwyneth Paltrow. She is occasionally mildly annoying, but she’s pretty and charming and has a sense of humor, it seems, and she’s got a nice singing voice. Pretty much what we’re looking for in a movie star, right? Oh, well, haters gonna hate.
I don’t think that she should necessarily get to steal the spotlight here just because she performed this song on Glee, though. Although, Cee Lo doesn’t seem to mind.
“This is kind of a hot mess.” – Johanna. I agree, but it’s still awesome.
9:57 – Did we pass some sort of constitutional amendment that says we have to call Neil Patrick Harris every time we have awards to give out?
He’s introducing Katy Perry. She’s singing some slow new song while video from her wedding is projected on a sheet hanging behind her, I guess? This is…what’s the word…bizarre? Tacky? Boring? All of those.
Luckily, she transitions quickly to “Teenage Dream.” This is much better, Katy.
They cut to a shot of Nicole Kidman in the audience totally rocking out and singing along and then getting embarrassed when she notices the camera and I suddenly kind of like Nicole Kidman? Weird.
10:02 – Immediately we begin a performance by Norah Jones, Keith Urban, and Johnny Depp John Mayer (?).
They’re presenting Song of the Year. The Grammy people seem to be feeling the time crunch here. We are chugging along. Or at least they are. To me, time has slowed to a crawl. Johanna and I, both unclear on the difference between Song of the Year and Record of the Year, went with Eminem and Rihanna with “Love the Way You Lie.” Lady Antebellum wins. OK?
10:12 – Seth Rogen, I feel your pain. No matter how much weight we lose, we will always have gigantic heads.
He’s introducing Rihanna, Adam Levine, Eminem, Chuck D and some other people performing “Love the Way You Lie.” Nice dress, Riri!
Can you guys believe that Eminem is the best selling artist of the 2000s? That’s weird right? Don’t get me wrong, I like Eminem a lot, but if you had told me that fact back in high school while I was watching the video for “My Name Is” I would have slapped you across your lying face.
10:20 – Here’s John Legend and Jewel, both looking very nice.
They’re presenting Best New Artist. Johanna went with Justin Bieber. I went with Drake, which seems sort of inexplicable in retrospect. Someone named Esperanza Spalding wins and both Johanna and I explode with laughter. WTF?
10:28 – Matthew Morrison from Glee. I’m going to rest my eyes for a minute. No, it’s OK, I won’t fall asleep, I just need to rest for one second. This show is three and a half hours long. Besides, they’re just talking about charity stuff.
10:32 – OK, I’m back! The “In Memoriam” segment has roused me. Who have I already forgotten died? No one, it turns out. That was the most boring “In Memoriam” segment I’ve ever seen in my entire life. You know what this needs to jazz it up? A jigger of JAGGER!
“From the dead to the living!” says Johanna, “Well, barely living.”
10:46 – We aren’t getting any younger. Kris Kristofferson is struggling here, folks.
And he’s introducing Barbra Streisand. Anyone who would care about this is asleep already. Fast forward.
10:50 – I never thought I would be happy to see you, Will.i.am! But thank god you’re here. You too, Nicki Minaj! I’m sorry I made fun of you in my MTV VMA post! I didn’t know who you were yet, and, frankly, you seemed ridiculous.
They’re presenting Best Rap Album. Johanna went with The Blueprint 3 by Jay-Z. Didn’t that album come out like three years ago? I went with Recovery by Eminem, and it wins! 4-2 me.
EMINEM IS SO SERIOUS ALL THE TIME NOW YOU GUYS.
10:58 – So I was going to jokingly call Diddy “Puff Daddy Dirty Money” here, but then the announcer actually introduced him as “Puff Daddy” and I got distracted. Is he back to Puff Daddy now? When did that happen?
I can’t believe how much Diddy is biting Kanye’s style nowadays! It looks like he even has that diamond tooth thing going on. Grow up, Diddy! You’re a mogul now! Don’t try to run with the youngins. Anyway, he’s introducing Drake and Rihanna. “That’s my jam, pause it!” yells Johanna from the kitchen.
I’m totally down with Drake, I swear, but I will never see him and not think of Jimmy Brooks from Degrassi. If I were an up-and-coming rapper and I wanted to get some publicity I would totally start a beef with him and make fun of him about it. Also, his name is Aubrey.
11:02 – Jennifer Lopez, looking great as always. Marc Anthony, looking like a ghoul as always.
They’re presenting Record of the Year. We both went with “Fuck You” by Cee Lo. This is a strong category, and I bet Lady Antebellum ends up winning. Yup. “Need You Now.” I take back what I said about this being an OK song.
11:11 – I like Neil Patrick Harris a lot, and I love Jason Segel a lot, but really CBS? Two cast members from How I Met Your Mother are here?
He’s introducing Arcade Fire, which is very exciting because they are probably my favorite band, but they are playing “Month of May,” which is a bit of a disappointment. “Why are they always playing this song?! This is like my least favorite song on the album!” yells Johanna.
So now I’m very curious about the rules/timeline for nominations for this mess, because I just realized that Kanye West isn’t nominated for anything. If My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was eligible and didn’t even get a nomination for Best Rap Album, I’m calling shenanigans. Yes, that is apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to me and the Grammys.
11:22 – Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Striesand are back. “Look how ill-fitting their clothes are,” says Johanna. Being old is rough.
They’re presenting Album of the Year. Johanna went with Eminem. I went with Lady Antebellum, which, when I picked it, struck me as a bit odd, but after their golden evening it’s starting to look like a savvy choice. But wait, what?? WHAT?/??? HOLY SHIT THE SUBURBS WINS!! “What the hell?” says Win Butler. I agree, Win, this is very surprising!
The voters in this online poll are also taken aback by this!
And we get to hear another Arcade Fire song! The whole evening has been redeemed! Good job, Grammys!!!
So they barely televised any categories, huh? As it stands, I’m up 4-2, but we’re going to have to go online to check out the rest of these categories. This is always annoying.
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: Johanna went with Katy Perry, I went with Gaga, and Gaga wins. 5-2.
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: We both went with Bruno Mars and he wins. 6-3.
Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals: Johanna went with Katy Perry & Snoop Dogg on “California Gurls,” I went with “Airplanes, Part II” by B.o.B., Eminem, and Hayley Williams. I ask Johanna if we’ve heard Part II of “Airplanes” and she says, “I don’t know, I’ll go to iTunes. Keep typing. This is taking forever, we don’t have time for you to take a break.” “Imagine” by a bunch of old boring people wins, of course.
Best Rock Song: Johanna went with Kings of Leon. I went with Neil Young, because in this category I’m pretty sure seniority wins every time. 7-3, me. This is turning into a rout.
Best R&B Song: Johanna and I both picked “Shine” by John Legend and the Roots and it wins, which is hilarious because we’ve never heard any of these. 8-4.
Best R&B Album: Again, we both picked John Legend and the Roots, and they won. 9-5.
Best Contemporary R&B Album: A lot of R&B categories, huh? We both went with Janelle’s ArchAndroid here, but Usher wins for Raymond v Raymond which sounds like it’s about his parents’ divorce court case or something?
Best Rap Song: Johanna went with “Not Afraid” by Eminem, and I went with “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z, which wins, because, you know, it’s 2009. 10-5.
Best Country Song: We both went with “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum and it wins, obvs. 11-6.
Best Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other: We both went with Glee because BARF but Crazy Heart wins instead. OK, then.
Final tally, 11-6, I win again. Come on, Johanna! The Oscars are in two weeks, I’m really going to need you to bring your “A” game. Step it up!
So that was boring and interminable, but at least in the end Arcade Fire won! Seriously, though, someone needs to explain the Grammys to me. I don’t understand what the goal is. Like, shouldn’t they either try to give awards to the artists who are actually the best or, conversely, just be a straight up pop-fest like the VMAs? What is the point of giving Neil Young awards? You don’t actually think Neil Young wrote the best rock song of the year do you, Grammy Committee?
Wait, you do? Seriously?