Welcome to Idolator’s first live blog of the Grammy Awards. This year’s ceremony will have performances by The Police, Rascal Flatts, and a fan selected by the Yahoo-reading masses, as well as a lot of misplaced adulation for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose Stadium Arcadium won three honors in the awards given out before the broadcast. Yes, it’s going to be that kind of night.
After the jump, our coverage of both the ceremony and MTV’s preshow, which is doubling as a flimsy excuse to show Justin Timberlake’s new video.
7:30 p.m.: We’re here, and so is John Norris, with a blonde bangs-wig and a really, really blurry camera. If this keeps up, we’re going to get a headache.
7:33 p.m. Seriously, this looks like public access. Especially now that John Norris let it drop that John Legend is his neighbor. Perhaps we’re seeing the first signs of MTV’s cutbacks?
7:35 p.m. Commercial break No. 1 already, and it opens with the declaration that the next episode of My Super Sweet 16 is featuring a party that “only oil could buy.” Yes, we’re off to a bad start.
7:40 p.m. Ludacris’ yellow-and-gray ensemble is impeccably matched with the MTV microphone.
7:41 p.m. “Exclusive broadcast premiere” just doesn’t have the same ring as “MTV World Premiere.”
7:42 p.m. “What Goes Around Comes Around”: The “Rush Rush” of our era, only with fire dancers?
7:46 p.m. Fire dancers and a drunken party-chat scene that sounds like a cleaned-up version of ParisExposed.com’s home video collection.
7:51 p.m. Forget the “Rush Rush” comparison–with that ending, we’re now dubbing Justin this generation’s Axl Rose. Here’s to his FutureSex/LoveSounds follow-up, which should come out sometime in 2023.
7:57 p.m. T.I. and Cee-Lo are, apparently, going to “shake a leg” together later. T.I. is one of the only men in the world who can make the phrase “shake a leg” sound impossibly suave.
7:59 p.m. And with that, the MTV preshow ends, and we tune to CBS. And we open with, of course, “Roxanne.” (What, did you think the Police would play anything different?)
8:03 p.m. Age comes, and Sting’s ability to hit the high notes goes away. But this sounds much better than we’d feared. The crowd, perhaps unsurprisingly, is going CRAZY.
8:04 p.m. Okay, the bowing was a little unnecessary. And self-congratulatory. However, it’s lute-free.
8:06 p.m. And in our first “old-guy upset” of the evening, we have Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder beating out all of this year’s biggest hits.
8:09 p.m. A quick reaction to Natalie Maines’ color choices: Yes on the brunette, no on the Liquid Paper manicure.
8:13 p.m. Using the crawl to announce the pre-show winners = much better than getting John Moschitta to reel them off pre-commercial break.
8:18 p.m. What? Prince isn’t going to play? And Beyonce is going to do the Dreamgirls song? Booooooooooooo.
8:21 p.m. Prediction: Tomorrow, we are going to get a press release from Fergie on her recent struggles with literacy.
8:24 p.m. Mary J. thanked her award. And now she is taking on her critics. Countdown to her getting played off begins in five, four…
8:26 p.m. Wait, that’s not Danity Kane in the front row?
8:32 p.m. In an obvious attempt to justify this whole ridiculous streaming-video talent contest, the Grammys have awarded that OK Go video the Short-Form Video Of The Year Award. Okay, fine, it was cute, but come on now.
8:35 p.m. We’re half an hour in, and is it just us, or have all the live performances consisted of slightly plodding versions slow jams? Even “Roxanne” sounded pitched down to 33, although that could have been because Sting’s voice changed.
8:37 p.m. Justin Timberlake’s real dream: To be Lonelygirl15. A plea: more squealing feedback solos, less self-chronicling.
8:39 p.m. This just in: The Doors have won a lifetime achievement award in being terribly overrated.
8:46 p.m. It’s nice of Mastercard to give Jesse Camp a new lease on life. But “street cred”?
8:48 p.m. Stevie Wonder was smart to save his riffing for this little intro bit–he knew that there was no way he’d get played off.
8:49 p.m. John Mayer’s guitar face: Another glaring sign that he should stick to blogging.
8:56 p.m. 2006: The year the music industry went midtempo. Here’s hoping Christina does “Ain’t No Other Man,” or at least something with a pulse.
8:57 p.m. This year’s overarching fashion theme seems to be “1987 prom.” Let’s give it up for Jessica McClintock!
9:05 p.m. Well, our dreams for a song with a pulse have been answered. Unfortunately, it’s by Shakira’s remake of that song from the Dirty Dancing sequel.
9:09 p.m. Aww, Burt Bacharach has a crush on Seal!
9:11 p.m. Song Of The Year: “Not Ready To Make Nice.” You had to kind of expect this, no? It still makes us pretty happy.
9:16 p.m. This Amerprise ad is making us realize that this show has been relatively low on boomer self-love. (Of course, this probably means that the tribute to the Eagles will come on when we return from commercial.)
9:19 p.m. Oh, Willow, who cast the “orange skin” spell on you?
9:21 p.m. If this is really going to work, the backup singers should be dressed up as TSA screeners.
9:23 p.m. Kanye West doesn’t care about dress codes.
9:26 p.m. Ludacris: The one man who can make an acceptance speech sound pretty compelling. Expect the remix to air on Hot 97 tomorrow, and an Oprah diss track to follow later in the week.
9:35 p.m. Everyone’s going for the BIG GESTURES tonight. Perhaps this performance shouldn’t have come so soon after the slowed-down take on “Crazy.” Not that we don’t really like this song, but we’re beginning to suffer from bombast overload.
9:39 p.m. Was Leann Rimes paired with Luke Wilson because of her resemblance to Ellen Pompeo?
9:47 p.m. Was that the Candyskins in the Lays ad that endorsed the potato-chip sandwich? (We have a lot of questions, and we are also hungry now.)
9:51 p.m. Carrie Underwood is very spunky. Also, her dress seems to be growing leaves.
9:52 p.m. How to make the Eagles even more unbearable: You get Rascal Flatts to emote their way through “Hotel California.” Yeah, we’re pretty sure this isn’t heaven.
9:55 p.m. Points for Carrie’s quick change. But lordy, three Eagles songs? Is it too much to hope for a Mojo Nixon run-in?
10:00 p.m. Hey! Ornette Coleman! (Nice suit.)
10:01 p.m. Okay, if Ornette Coleman gives an award to James Blunt, the world ends.
10:02 p.m. Thankfully, the Bluntocalypse has been averted again.
10:09 p.m. How can Smokey Robinson have any tears to track with all that Botox in his face?
10:11 p.m. “Hello” is still a great song, although Lionel should have a bust of himself on the piano right now.
10:13 p.m. Reasons to have a very big affection for Chris Brown: 1. He entered the stage on a slide. 2. His Skeletor mask. 3. “Run It” is so catchy. (Although the “hey, a little kid who can breakdance!” thing has been played since Breakin’ 2 came out.)
10:17 p.m. This Christina Aguilera flipping the gender script thing is blowing all of our brain’s circuits right now. She sounded great, but … seriously, what just happened?
10:26 p.m. You know, this “we love to break new artists!” bit might sound a bit less condescending if … well, okay, there’s really no way that’ll happen, especially since we saw the bargain bin at the Princeton Record Exchange last week, and it was like a mausoleum of loss-leader baby bands.
10:32 p.m. Hey, you can just show the video of James Brown dancing. You don’t need the re-enactment. Honestly.
10:38 p.m. The cheesiest CBS tie-in: David Spade.
10:39 p.m. As former Idolator guest editor Eric Harvey has pointed out, it’s been about 35 minutes since an award was presented. And we said before that we could listen to Ludacris read the phone book, but this song just does not play to his strengths.
10:43 p.m. BLUNTOCALYPSE. Come back, Luda!
10:44 p.m. Is it too much to ask that this gets turned into a medley with “Bad Day”?
10:46 p.m. An ovation? The free booze must be flowing.
10:47 p.m. Get ready for Grammy history, everybody! The first–and, we’ll bet, only–user-generated Grammy performance, celebrating “You: The Consumer That We Have Contempt For, But Need To Throw A Bone To In Order To Sell Some Records!”
10:50 p.m. Prince’s ad buy: Punk rock, in an “eff you, Grammys, people will still be talking about my performance tomorrow” sort of way.
10:53 p.m. Later tonight, Justin Timberlake will play the clarinet, just to show that he’s the virtuoso.
10:55 p.m. T.I. just redeemed this whole thing.
10:57 p.m. (However, they should really never conduct this experiment again.)
11:00 p.m. Oh, that next Quentin Tarantino movie is going to be lousy, isn’t it?
11:05 p.m. The Dixie Chicks won Record Of The Year … and they also got played off. Honestly, we understand that the CBS higher-ups don’t want people to fall asleep before their local newscasts’ February sweeps exposes on low-fat foods, but it’s the presenters that need to be a little more reeled in.
11:08 p.m. “The best band in the world?” About the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Chris Rock, you have officially lost your edge.
11:09 p.m. We’ve said this before, but the reinvention of Anthony Kiedis as a crooner has to be one of the worst developments in the past 15 years of popular music. Honestly, this isn’t a song, this is music that scores an “open road” scene in a remake of some lousy early-’80s horror flick.
11:11 p.m. (The Ornette Coleman-honoring graffiti is nice, though.)
11:14 p.m. The confetti surrounds Al Gore like a million hanging chads.
11:16 p.m. When did Brandon Flowers join the Red Hot Chili Peppers?
11:18 p.m. A clear sign that psychosis has set in: The Fischerspooner sample in this L’Oreal ad made us think, “Aw, electroclash,” in a ruffle-the-scruff-of-its-neck way.
11:23 p.m. Page Six will be full of Scarlett Johannsson/Don Henley rumors within the hour.
11:26 p.m. Pat yourself on the back if you thought Natalie Maines was going to make the “we’re ready to make nice” joke.
11:27 p.m. And we’re done, not with a show-closing performance but with Scarlett hamming it up for those who are eligible to vote for her in the Best New Artist category next year. We’re not sure how to best sum up the evening, although while combing the wires for the full slate of results we learned that Peter Frampton won his first career Grammy this year. Somehow, with all the midtempo songs that ruled much of the evening, that milestone seems more than appropriate.
List of Grammy Award Winners [AP via NYT]