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7:56 p.m. It's almost time!!! Let's make this fun. Chime in whenever you want and I'll reply to comments as I can. We're a few minutes away from the opening of the Grammys (Bruce Springsteen is the first act, by the way), but we anticipate the whole tone of the Grammys to be affected by Whitney Houston's death yesterday. In addition to the tribute featuring Jennifer Hudson and Chaka Khan, expect a number of winners to mention Houston.
As you know, most of the awards are handed out before the telecast, which focuses on the biggest awards and performances. So far, Skrillex has already won three, which could mean he will take Best New Artist over The Band Perry, J. Cole, Bon Iver and Nicki Minaj. Foo Fighters have grabbed every category they are up for that has been presented so far (four). We still think Adele's "21" is a lock for album of the year, but Foos could pull of an upset... though unlikely. Kanye West has three Grammys, while Tony Bennett, Taylor Swift and Adele already have two. A small piece of trivia: Tony Bennett won his first Grammy in 1962, meaning he has a 50-year span of winning (he just snagged more Grammys tonight).
7:59: We were at rehearsals for Springsteen and he was awesome. Very excited to see if it translates on TV. Who are you excited about seeing?
8 p.m. BRUCE!!! I'm totally in the tank for Springsteen and I have to say he's bringing it on "We Take Care Of Our Own." It's a straight rock opening. There's not a lot of bells and whistles, but he's never needed them and never will. Big productions are not his thing: it is always about the music. Similarly to when U2 opened a few years ago, this is solely a ratings play and a promotional play. "Wrecking Ball" comes out March 6, so he's not up for anything. Hottest, fittest 62-year old on the planet. Oh my: They just flashed to Lady Gaga in a black veil. Like me, she loves herself some Bruce. GRADE: A-
8:06: My goodness. Host LL Cool J is leading Staples Center in prayer for Whitney Houston. We're now seeing video of Houston killing it with "I Will Always Love You" from the 1994 Grammys. No disrespect, but that clip and her voice just got me much, much closer to Heaven than the prayer. Really breathtaking, pure voice. OK, I admit it, that clip made me tear up.
8:10 Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj are holding hands. Sweet. This is the first year in seven that the Grammys has had a host and thank God because there's no way they could have pulled off this opening without one.
8:12: Bruno Mars just told the audience to get off their rich asses and move it to "Runaway Baby." He looks like Richie Valens, but he's channelling James Brown right now. This is his second year performing at the Grammys and he's brought it each year... last year he was in the great number with Janelle Monae. I am a big Bruno Mars fan and I love the retro stage and the gold jackets. This is a production. Is it possible he just got a bigger hand than Bruce? Yes, I think it is... GRADE: A
8:21: I love and miss Whitney, but I'm hoping not every performer feels like he/she has to give a shout out. Alicia Keys just did so as she and Bonnie Raitt go into "Sunday Kind Of Love" in a tribute to Etta James. Oh God, Keys is awesome, but Raitt gave me chills when she started. I was talking to Raitt on Friday at MusiCares and she looked incredible. Can't wait for the new album in April. GRADE: A-
8:23: Best pop solo vocal performance. It's going to Adele, as will everything tonight. Pink's so sure she's losing, she's not even there. And... there we go. Adele wins for "Someone Like You," which is going to become a standard. Mark my words. Given that it's a vocal performance, she wisely thanks her doctors.. and he co-writer Dan Wilson.
8:27 I'm trying to judge Chris Brown's performance on its face value and not let my feelings that a three-year Grammy ban for smashing Rihanna about is hardly long enough. I think it's safe to say he's lipsyncing: Hey Chris, real mean don't lip sync or hit women. Okay, I had to get that out, because the dancing is nothing short of magnificent as he flips all around a set of colored blocks and then disappears off the end. Some people, not many, are even giving him a standing ovation. It's going to take a lot more than that to get one from me. Plus, I think "Turn Up The Music" is just a rip off of LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem," though I do like "Beautiful People." GRADE: A (dancing) C (everything else)
8:36 Fergie and Marc Anthony give Jay-Z and Kanye West the best rap performance for "Otis." And SHOCKING, neither one is there. I'm guessing that West is so pissed off that he didn't receive a best album nomination (which he really deserved) and Jay-Z didn't want to leave his baby mama, who goes by the name Beyonce. However, when I was at rehearsals on Friday, there was a seat marked for Jay-Z, so his absence may have come as a surprise to NARAS.
8:39: Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson are performing their country smash, "Don't You Wanna Stay," on a stage that has sprockets from a watch on it. Not really sure the stage set up... unless the inner workings of a watch symbolize staying for "a little while." OOPS, our first malfunction, and it's not Clarkson's very low cut dress. Jason Aldean's microphone goes out just as he and Clarkson are supposed to be wailing at the end. Better his mic than Clarkson's... Nice performance, but nothing awesome. I've just decided that I'm going to go back and grade the performances. Feel free to do so in the replies if you'd like. GRADE: B
8:48: Jack Black keeps his indie cred by staying outside and introducing Foo Fighters, who have already won four Grammys tonight. Frequent readers of The Beat Goes On know that I love Springsteen mostest of all, but Dave Grohl is not too far behind. The Foos are tearing into "Walk." I wish I could turn up my computer (I'm having to watch an east coast feed) because they are bringing it and drummer Taylor Hawkins is doing his best Animal imitation. Oh Dave, I never want to die either. Little side story: The Foos played "Jet" at the MusiCares salute to Paul McCartney on Friday night, which was one my favorite music nights ever, especially with McCartney closed the night with the "Golden Slumbers" medley. I was talking to Dave before hand and asked if he was excited about playing before Sir Paul (he's played with McCartney before). He just looks at me, and as loudly as he could without drawing too much attention to himself in the banquet hall, goes "F***********CK Yeah!" He will always be a fan and that makes me love him even more. GRADE: A (there is no way that they can keep up this level of performances... )
8:57: Coldplay and Rihanna time. We open with Rihanna singing "We Found Love" solo. (The song made my list of top singles of 2011) Just a side note: we're going to go the whole first hour with only one Grammy being handed out. Oh snap, it looks like Rihanna is lipsyncing... I have to deduct for that. Maybe I'm wrong... Loving the blond hair way more than the red she spotted awhile ago. Nice dance number, but generic. Did she just say "Make some noise for Whitney?" Really? Straight into high energy of "We Found Love" to Coldplay's Chris Martin strumming an acoustic guitar. Now he's been joined by Rihanna for "Princess of China." She seems to be singing live here, whereas she absolutely was not before. This is not working. It was a horrible segue. So after a verse of that, we now go into Coldplay performing "Paradise." So basically that was two individual artist performances tied together with a small snippet of their duet so the Grammys could promote that Rihanna and Coldplay were performing together. Okay, NARAS, is that really the way you're going to play it?
9:05: Yes, seven minutes later we're still in the Rihanna/Rihanna & Coldplay/Coldplay performance segment and all the air has left the room. Big Coldplay fan, but this performance is not working for me. Chris Martin's pitch is way off (my cat's ears are pinned back), but he's very obviously singing live. GRADE: C
9:12: The Foo Fighters win best rock performance Grammy for "Walk." Of course they do... they deserve it, but they were also the only REAL rock song in the category (though I love every song in that grouping). Dave Grohl has been touting everywhere he can, and he's doing so again, that this album was made in his garage with "some microphones and a tape machine." And that's all it takes to make really great music. "Singing into a microphone, playing an instrument, and learning your craft is most important." Oh Dave, I just keep thinking I can't love you more, but I do... and to play off Grohl, who screams "Long Live Rock and Roll." they play LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem," which has no sign of a live instrument anywhere... hmmm (and a little side note, LOVED the version of "The Scientist" by Willie Nelson in the Chipotle commercial. Way better than Coldplay tonight.
9:18: Maroon 5 kicks off the Beach Boys tribute with a servicable "Surfer Girl." Foster The People seemed like they were going to be headed for greatness with their very sweet homage-- striped shirts, suits, surfboards, and all--with "Wouldn't It Be Nice," but lead singer Mark Foster's voice isn't totally cooperating. I loved the spirit, the styling and their whole respect for the Beach Boys though. Now we have the real deal. Everyone in the audience has to act like they are loving it, when the truth is Brian Wilson looks lost and Mike Love looks like he just strolled in off his boat (and he most be getting a cut of the merch since he's sporting a Beach Boys hat) and creepy. However, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and the backing band (I'm figuring it's the Wondermints, who have beautifully backed Wilson for years) are keeping the harmonies righteous. Adam Levine just looked at Mike Love like, "get your hand off me, grandpa." But you know what? A world with Brian Wilson is just a better world (even if he can't wait to get off the stage the second the song is over) GRADE: B-
9:32: Stevie Wonder gets a standing ovation just for coming onstage and that is how it should be... he introduces Paul McCartney who is performing "My Valentine" from his new album, " Kisses On The Bottom." Let's all admit it, there are about 492 songs we'd rather hear Macca singing right now, but it's a pleasant enough song and is the best thing on the new album. I'm just hoping he rips into something else from here. I've never heard Joe Walsh play so tastefully before (well, he played with McCartney when they did this song on Friday night, but other than then... ) OK, standing O because he's Paul McCartney: Great. Standing O because of that performance: No. GRADE: B-
9:37: Chris Brown just won the Grammy for best R&B album for "F.A.M.E. He thanks God and the Grammys for letting him "get on stage and do this thing." I'm going to give him credit for keeping it short and sweet and humble. And that's all I'm going to say about that, but please note the Grammys keep is classy and don't show a reaction shot from Rihanna.
9:40: The Civil Wars, who won two Grammys in the pre-telecast, tear into "Barton Hollow." I know his suit is part of his stage persona, but John Paul White looks like a 35-year old Colonel Sanders. They introduce Taylor Swift, who goes into "Mean." If you're not aware of the song The Civil Wars and Swift did together for "The Hunger Games," the link might not make sense... Anyway, Swift is using a broken down, old-timey set that was probably built from scavaging the dumpsters in and around Staples Center and downtown. She may not get to play Eponine in "Les Miserables,", but Swift makes a perfect Depression-era character. Maybe she can play Scout in a remake of "To Kill a Mockingbird." Just kidding... Oh, every time she gets to the line about "how I can't sing," I die a little inside. I'm loving this version of the song though (which is similar to how she performs it on tour. Overall, I would have liked more Civil Wars and less Swift. GRADE: B
9:52: Adele and Paul Epworth win song of the year for "Rolling In The Deep," which is no surprise, but lovely none the less. Was Adele chewing gum the whole time? She's adorable. I'm telling you, the only act that can beat the Foo Fighters this year is Adele. If you're keeping count, The Foos have won 5 (including pre-telecast) and Adele has won 4.
9:55: Katy Perry may be delivering the biggest F*CK YOU ever delivered on the Grammy stage. She opened with "E.T.," which was written about her love for now ex-husband Russell Brand, but now she's launched into new single "Part Of Me." The lyrics include "Cause you chewed me up and spit me out, like I was poison in your mouth...But you're not gonna break my soul. This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me." She's in a space-age gold outfit with blue hair. Not a great performance singing wise, but in terms of a woman trying to reclaim her life back and send a message, a total home run. GRADE: B
9:59: We've just hit the two-hour mark and Lady Antebellum just won best country album for "Own The Night," besting Taylor Swift, Eric Church and Blake Shelton. The trio won big last year, snagging song and record of the year, but couldn't get any general category noms this year. However, those wins from last year probably loomed large when voters got ready to mark their ballots.
10:05: Who does it take to bring Adele back the stage? Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow, that's who. Get ready for the performance of the night. Oh chills. She's singing "Rolling In The Deep" a capella. Yep, she's back.She sounds incredible and at full power and resonance. She also looks beautiful, even if she looks, quite frankly, like she's a tiny bit tired of singing this song. I, on the other hand, will never, ever get tired of hearing it... Get ready for the biggest standing ovation of the evening. That sound you hear is the .001% of the world that wasn't already in love with Adele falling so, so hard. That air blast you feel is the collective exhalation and sigh of relief by Columbia Record execs. GRADE: A+
10:16: Taylor Swift, who's literally gone from rags to riches since her performance, introduces the Glen Campbell tribute, which stars with the The Band Perry, who are singing "Gentle On My Mind." What kind of furry skirt is Kimberly wearing? No matter, this is a fun, uptempo version of the song. Campbell's "Ghosts On The Canvas" was my No. 1 album of 2011. I'm feeling a little nervous for Campbell. TBP tosses to Blake Shelton, who's singing "Southern Nights." Let's not even pretend that these songs are as great as the Jimmy Webb/Campbell collaborations, but since the Country Music Assn. Awards' tribute to Campbell snared all those, maybe the Grammys felt they had to do something different. Shelton is slowing down "Southern Nights" and there are cheesy backing vocals. Not digging it. Now Campbell, in a rhinestone jacket, is singing "Rhinestone Cowboy." He sounds really strong and you can feel everyone in Staples pulling for him, whether it's McCartney who's singing along or Joe Walsh, who's dancing along. He's riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo. First F*** You of the night went to Russell Brand. The second F*** You of the night? To Alzheimer's Disease.
10:30: Time for best new artist, but first we get a performance from Carrie Underwood and Tony Bennett, who got some more Grammy hardware tonight. Between Springsteen, Beach Boys, Glen Campbell and Tony Bennett, it really is your parents' Grammys, but I imagine Skrillex's upcoming appearance will send all the oldsters off to bed. In the meantime, Bennett and Underwood are singing "It Had To Be You" from "Duets II." Bennett's flubbing up a bit and it was much better in the rehearsal I saw on Friday. Here comes Best New Artist, which I thought The Band Perry would get, but Skrillex may take it. He's already won three... Well, I was just wrong all the way around. It's Bon Iver. Only Justin Vernon is accepting the award, which I guess makes sense since he is basically Bon Iver. He looks like a teaching assistant at University of Wisconsin or something. So he's talking about being uncomfortable accepting an award because he makes music for its own sake. As you may have read this week, he turned down an offer to play because he had to play with other folks. For someone who's feeling uncomfortable about winning, he has so much to say, he gets played off. Bon Iver wasn't my choice to win, but it's a fine win, nonetheless.
10:38: I'm totally believing that you don't need for me to comment on NARAS president/chairman Neil Portnow's comments or the In Memorium section. Man, a lot of great folks died this year...BIG MAN!!!
10:43: Jennifer Hudson is singing "I Will Always Love You" a capella. I teared up during Campbell's performance and I can see i'm going to tear up again. Hudson deserves some kind of special MVP Grammy Award for stepping in with less than 24 hours notice. Wonderfully done. There had been some reports today that Chaka Khan would also pay tribute to Houston (and obviously sing "I'm Every Woman), but it looks like that isn't happening. As it was, this was the perfect tribute: sad, but not overly maudlin. I'm not grading this or Campbell's segment.
10:51: Here comes a dance segment with David Guetta, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Foo Fighters and Deadmau5.. It opens with Guetta and new Grammy winner Chris Brown on "I Can Only Imagine." Out comes Lil Wayne who is also on the track. I always feel a little sorry when I watch Guetta because he looks like he really wants to bust a move and dance to his own music, but he has to keep paying attention to those two turntables. Then again, he has lots and lots of dough coming in, so it's probably a fair trade. And here are the Foos for their second performance of the night (did you hear in the promo that McCartney is also coming back). They're replicating the "Rope" video with the white room. It's wild and woolly but a little off. Look who just showed up in the white room next door? It's Deadmau5 to chime in on his remix of "Rope." Now Deadmau5 is doing his thing and you can hear TVs clicking off across America, or, at the very least, people are turning the the 11 p.m. news. There's a reason the Grammys kept this until almost 3 hours in. May not be quite mainstream enough for CBS's Tiffany viewers, but points for trying to be hip. The men don't know, but the little girls, they understand. (And while we're quoting the Doors --well, actually Willie Dixon--we'd like to put in a plug for the new documentary, "Re:Generation," which pairs DJs such as Skrillex with veteran artists such as the Doors to create something altogether new.) GRADE: B-
11:07: Who does Nicki Minaj think she is? Lady Gaga? Okay, anyone over 25 who wasn't turned off by the EDM segment is totally tripping over this Minaj performance of "The Exorcism of Roman." If this is really what we're in for with the new album, we're in trouble. It's theater and there's lots of video and monks in hoods and Minaj levitating, but it is a holy mess. I can't find a song in there to save my life. I run hot and cold on Minaj. I salute her adventurousness here, but adventurousness does not equal good. I join everyone in Peoria going, "What the hell was that?" GRADE: C-
11:11: Adele wins the Grammy for record of the year for "Rolling In The Deep." As Lady Antebellum, who presents the award, says, "No surprise here." It's nice that they are presenting because Adele loves Lady A. Adele's keeping her speeches short and sweet. She may be saving it all for her album of the year speech.
11:20: It's album of the year time. Let's guess... of course, it's "21." That makes it a clean sweep for Adele. Some years are like that, like when Norah Jones swept in 2003. Sweet hug between Adele and LL Cool J. Even though she's just won, Adele looks a little afraid to hug Miss Ross. Well, here comes all the emotion that she's been holding in. She's thanking Rick Rubin, whom she's kind of dissed before. Has anyone since Fleetwood Mac ever gotten so much mileage out of bad relationships. Adele is the most real person ever.. she just made a comment about snot. Everything is real about that girl, except her fake eyelashes. Lady Gaga dressed in black appropriately tonight.
11:23: Sir Paul is closing the night with "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End," after LL Cool J ludicrously introduces him as "My homie." No. That's a Beatle you're talking to. He's not a "homie," he's a legend. "Golden Slumbers" is how he ended MusiCares on Friday night and it was breathtaking. I love watching Abe Laborial Jr. drum. It's like this powerful, gelatinous goo bashing the drums... so fluid. Just wait until he gets to "The End." He'll pummel the hell out of those skins. McCartney has been playing with this band longer than he played with The Beatles or Wings. I'm loving this because it's MCartney, but this doesn't hold a candle to his performance Friday night... and I'm not just saying that because I was in the room. Okay, maybe I am...
11:27: WHAT? There's Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh up with McCartney... Grohl and Springsteen are going at it. Joe Walsh always sounds like Joe Walsh... He's playing "The End' and he could go straight into "RockyMountain Way." OK, coolest end to the Grammys ever. "And in the end... " That's really what it's all about. Not so strong start, AWESOME finish. GRADE: McCartney, Springsteen, Grohl, Walsh on stage together? PRICELESS
SO here are some post-mortem thoughts: Overall very strong show. I don't think Chris Brown should be on a Grammy stage yet. Lots and lots of legends on stage tonight: McCartney, Springsteen, Campbell, Beach Boys, Tony Bennett. Not really sure why we had that Beach Boys performance. I would have liked to have seen Van Halen instead. I still need for someone to explain Nicki Minaj's performance to me. My world is a little bit better knowing that Adele's voice is okay.
OVERALL GRADE: B
What's your overall grade? Who was your favorite performance?
Follow Melinda Newman on Twitter @HitfixMelinda