Well thank God they ended on time, right? Maybe it’s because the act of watching the Grammys also includes scanning and posting on Twitter these days, but this year’s 3.5 hour affair seemed especially exhausting and one-note. Hey, not every year can be the Adele year, right? There were some outstanding performances and endearing acceptance speeches, yes. But those moments were fleeting — mainly because there were only like four awards handed out the whole night, and because everything was preceded by LL Cool J selling us on the Power of Music, as if we were some alien race from the Planet of Silence not well-versed in, and totally stoked about, these patterned sounds and synchronized rhythms.
Other completely superfluous takeaways that seemed to stick with us more than the actual awards: Lena Dunham was there, Taylor Swift likes ALL the songs because she’s JUST LIKE US, you guys! And, of course, Katy Perry has breasts. Now, let’s recap this whole thing, shall we?
The show started off with Tay-Tay’s carnie/Lewis Carroll rendition of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” It was a fun, grand spectacle, totally worthy of the opening slot. By now, though, you’d think Swift would be better at playing this “hot girl” persona, but she still looks like she’s just basing her sexpot behavior on flirty characters from classic musicals written by gay men.
After that, we had the non-spectacle (but very enjoyable) duet of Ed Sheeran‘s and Elton John performing Sheeran’s Song of the Year nominee “The A Team.” Then we got to our first award, for Best Pop Solo Performance. Adele continued her obliteration of the competition, winning for “Set Fire to the Rain.” And, look, we stan for Adele. But a live take of a 2011 song shouldn’t get the prize over Carly Rae Jepsen‘s 2012-defining “Call Me Maybe.” It makes us want to set fire to…the rain or something.
Perfect segue alert! Then it rained on fun. and the Grammys got their new tagline, “Where it rains on fun.”As with any performance from these guys, it was theatrical and rousing. Though Nate Ruess has had better days vocally.
Then we learned that we live in a world where Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley get to perform two songs, while the endlessly charismatic Miguel must share the stage with Wiz Khalifa for two minutes of “Adorn.” At least he left us wanting more, though. The lesson: the Grammys, like life, are unfair.
Carrie Underwood got the night’s second piece of hardware, for Best Country Solo performance. Shortly after that, fun.’s “We Are Young” beat out “Call Me Maybe” for Song of the Year. That made us sad again, because dammit, when we remember 2012 we will remember “Call Me Maybe” and it should get some tiny physical monument validating that!
Fortunately, our anguish resided when 30-year-old Nate Ruess cleverly pointed out during his acceptance speech the irony of the song, saying, “We are not very young.”
Next up, Johnny Depp (because, of course) introduced Mumford and Sons to play that one song they have that sounds like all the other songs they have. We kid! Sort of. Yes, they are one-trick ponies, but you have to admit that they do that one trick really, really well. Like, how does the stomping and the spitfire banjo and the gravelly chorus get emotions to well up every single time they perform live? If it ain’t broke. (Though, we suspect their instruments are often broke.)
Ellen DeGeneres and Beyonce then took the stage to introduce Justin Timberlake, and we immediately decided that Bey needs to be Ellen’s Ed McMahon. JT started out with “Suit & Tie,” the cameras set to sepia, and soon uttered that line, “Get out that seat, Hov,” and Jay-Z ascended from his first-row seat and broke into his verse. The inevitable song switchover finally came, an orchestra was unveiled and Timberlake began new song “Pusher Love Girl.”
At this point, it was clear that the night was the battle of the falsettos, with Miggy vs. JT, and Frank Ocean left to go. Heading into the show, we probably would’ve put our money on Frank. We would’ve lost our money. When Miguel broke it out at the end of “Adorn” tonight, it was a show-stopper. But JT sustained his for most of the final half of “Pusher Love Girl,” an impressive feat. As for Frank, well, we wouldn’t say he flopped. But he underwhelmed us.
We don’t know if it was because of his cut finger, or losing out to fun. for Best New Artist, or being on the Biggest Stage in MusicTM, but he was just slightly off on “Forrest Gump.” He slowed down an already slow song, but didn’t do anything to make up for that. We’re spoiled from his SNL and MTV VMA performances. However, Ocean won Best Urban Contemporary Album over Chris Brown, so at least we can sleep well knowing that even when good’s having an off night, it still triumphs over evil.
You know what wasn’t understated and boring? Kelly Clarkson‘s acceptance speech for Best Pop Vocal Album! She admitted to not knowing who Miguel is but wanting to duet with him because of his sexy performance. Good news: Miguel sounds like he’s into it!
@kelly_clarkson say when! You killed tonight, MUCH LOVE
— Miguel (@MiguelUnlimited) February 11, 2013
Second to Kelly’s speech was when Jay-Z — after winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration along with Kanye West, Frank Ocean and The-Dream — made fun of The-Dream with the quip, “I’d like to thank the swap meet for your hat.”
Later, Kelly killed with her covers of “Tennessee Waltz” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” as did Rihanna with her darkly sexy take on “Stay” with Jared Leto-lookalike Mikky Ekko. As much as we all thought this year’s ceremony would be all about the n00bs, it was still the ol’ faithful acts like Kelly, RiRi, JT, Bruno and Carrie (and her lite-brite dress!) who delivered the goods.
Then came a serious upset: Gotye won Record of the Year, and got the stamp of approval from Prince in the process. So, maybe Gotye will be a thing again, now that he’s channeled the sorcery of the Purple One.
Finally, it was time. Adele came out to present Album of the Year, and this was the first time we ever cringed at something that came out of her mouth: “The winner is…Babel, Mumford and Sons.” So, about that. Grammy voters…
We’re sorry, but of all the albums nominated, Mumford’s was the least complex and demonstrated the least risk and evolution compared to the respective act’s prior work.
Ugh, if only there were a palate cleanser to wash away the bad taste in our mouths. Oh, wait, we got the exact OPPOSITE. LL Cool J teaming up with Chuck D, Travis Barker, Tom Morrello and Z-Trip. We wanted to throw our remote at the TV. The Power of Music, ladies and gentlemen!