Live-Blogging The 2009 Grammys: Where The Winners Don’t Count As Much As The Ability To Bring In Ratings

noah | February 8, 2009 7:30 am

Welcome to Idolator’s liveblog of the 2009 Grammy Awards, a year in which there will be more spectacle and less award-doling than ever. Well, at least it seems that way: The 3 1/2-hour telecast will have no more than 10 brass gramophones handed out during its running time, presumably because the music industry decided that what it really needed to give it a shot in the arm was a slightly more pretentious version of the Video Music Awards. (And yes, that is Paul McCartney being That Guy—or rather, the Bret Michaels-pioneered variation on That Guy who wears a shirt advertising his own projects—above.) Full minute-by-minute coverage after the jump!

7:30 p.m. So, before we begin, a few winners of note: Best Rock Song: Bruce Springsteen, “”Girls in Their Summer Clothes” (sadly, no Stephin Merritt shout-out in the thank yous) Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: Coldplay, “Viva La Vida” (sadly, no Joe Satriani run-in during the thank yous) Best Alternative Music Album: Radiohead, In Rainbows Best Classical Contemporary Composition: John Corigliano (JoAnn Falletta), Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan (yes, really) Best Short-Form Music Video: Weezer, “Pork & Beans” (because the academy gets the Internet, everybody! no, really!)

There were others, many of them echoing a theme: The nominees for the big categories are really, really awesome. Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Adele—all great! You may even see one of them say “thank you” on live TV. But only for about 45 seconds.

7:43 p.m. So, Chris Brown won’t be performing tonight because of “an alleged domestic violence felony battery report,” according to the Associated Press. The woman involved in the incident is unidentified…

7:51 p.m. I watched a little bit of the pre-show, where Ryan Seacrest stood in Jordin Sparks’ shadow, then basically insinuated that Carrie Underwood was the type of girl who liked to hook up with lots of jocks. (Talk about sublimating your rage at the Idol producers!) Then I shut it off because Katy Perry was looking kind of crazed and talking about carrying around locks of Miley Cyrus‘ and Taylor Swift‘s hair in her relatively restrained purse and how she was going to descend to the stage from something phallic and full of potassium. She actually said this. She cannot be banished to Dancing With The Stars D-listdom enough.

7:59 p.m. In New York City, we’re being led into the Grammys with a J & R Music World ad featuring three dudes headbanging. Something that there will not be much of tonight.

8:00 p.m. Whoops, Chris Brown & Rihanna not edited out of the intro. Someone’s getting fi-red!

8:00 p.m. At least that person will be able to sing along with Bono (and his really dumb lyrics) thanks to the giant screen behind them.

8:02 p.m. OK, who is mixing this performance? Is it the same person who sliced TV On The Radio’s performance to ribbons on Saturday Night Live 20 hours ago?

8:02 p.m. YEEEAH!!!

8:03 p.m. Bono’s T-shirt has Beethoven on it. One more “musical legend tee” and we’ve got a mini-trend!

8:04 p.m. “Thank you, Walter. Can we get Whitney Houston on the show?”

8:04 p.m. Oh, I guess we can! Bono is so powerful.

8:05 p.m. She’s looking good. Oh wait, she just spoke.

8:06 p.m. 1/10th of tonight’s awards are going to be given ou—wait, no, Whitney is going to take some time out to… talk about how awesome Clive Davis is.

8:07 p.m. Jennifer Hudson beats Al Green and Raphael Saadiq out for Best R & B Album. Yes, indeed: Thank you, Clive Davis.

8:07 p.m. Oh, Jennifer, I know you’ve been through a rough time, but you already won an Oscar. You don’t need to be surprised by being offered a trophy.

8:08 p.m. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is making up Grammy acronyms. The thing about Dwayne is that when he cuts a promo, he’s pretty believeable and so you could almost really think that he thinks the Grammys are important and he’s actually spent time backstage during Smackdown! tapings in the past figuring out whether or not the Best New Artist curse was real.

8:09 p.m. But he’s announcing every performer. Does this mean he’s the host?

8:10 p.m. Neil Diamond and Lil Wayne together? That would have been great.

8:11 p.m. And now, here’s Justin Timberlake, wearing Lurex.

8:11 p.m. Al Green, Boyz II Men, and Keith Urban. Does that mean that we’re in Motozphillyphis?

8:12 p.m. As long as Pulp Fiction is in the libraries of cable stations around the globe, Al Green will have to sing “Let’s Stay Together.” (Not that it’s not awesome.)

8:14 p.m. Justin singing a verse. Why do I have a feeling he’s going to be doing this a lot tonight?

8:14 p.m. Justin taking over. This, right here, is the beginning of the post-Timbaland rebranding of Timberlake, everybody.

8:17 p.m. So, who’s advertising on the Grammys this year? A skin cream, a car company, and… well, we know Pepsi will be here eventually, too, thanks to everyone’s favorite Obama supporter.

8:19 p.m. Who needs an application to figure out where they parked their car? Unless they’re trying to write another expository essay on whether or not the Internet has made us all much stupider, that is.

8:21 p.m Please welcome our token British bit of intra-network promotion as a way to introduce a British band.

8:22 p.m. Chris Martin responds to Brandon Flowers’ epaulets with a piece of a costume from a dancing school’s spring recital circa 1992.

8:23 p.m. Jay-Z drops in to give everyone a taste of Funk Flex’s show on Hot 97.

8:24 p.m. Ditch the piano, it’s time to party! With Joe Satriani! No, wait, he’s not there.

8:25 p.m. I love when people wearing too-short pants do jigs. Nothing like a good sock shot.


8:27 p.m. (I’m kinda kidding, but hey, someone will probably take the bait.)

8:27 p.m. And here’s Keith Urban again, linking Gene Autry to Carrie Underwood in a very awkward way. Someone’s manager greased some palms!

8:28 p.m. Here is Carrie, performing “My Attempt To Replicate The Crossover Success Of ‘Before He Cheats’ In A Really Obvious Way” while wearing a dress patterned after a glittery tree that’s been TP’d.

8:30 p.m. OK, what is happening to the sound on this performance? It’s music’s biggest night, but the sound keeps maxing out and peaking. Maybe the message that NARAS is trying to send is “Please pay for music so we can afford to make it sound halfway decent”?

8:32 p.m. Sheryl Crow and LeAnn Rimes… and the sound is screwy again.

8:33 p.m. It would appear that periwinkle and various neutrals are the colors of the evening. Are they somber?

8:33 p.m. AWARD PRESENTATION NUMBER TWO: Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Voters… goes to Sugarland’s “Stay.” I have no problem with this award.

8:34 p.m. Adele, sitting behind Sugarland, looks very bored. And is chewing gum.

8:34 p.m. Jennifer Nettles wants to be cool because Coldplay is in the crowd. Jennifer. Really, you don’t need to worry.

8:35 p.m. Ah, the My Grammy Moment winner has been demoted to “an announcement on The Early Show” status. Anyone want to put down odds on whether it’ll be around next year?

8:37 p.m. The Cat Power ad for Lincoln is making me wonder if she’ll ever come up big on one of these shows. Maybe she should do an album of blues songs with Ringo Starr! No, actually, that would be awful.

8:41 p.m. Duffy and Al Green. And a nation of Idolator commenters just sucked their breath in hard.

8:41 p.m. They are dueting, now. Um…

8:42 p.m. Holy crap, another award!

8:42 p.m. Song Of The Year: Coldplay, “Viva La Vida.” Aw, Estelle was robbed.

8:43 p.m. Coldplay’s look is “Ramshackle Sgt. Pepper!” It’s officially a trend.

8:44 p.m. Oh no, Kid Rock singing His Serious Song. With appropriately heart-jerking pictures backing him up. Whoever made that crack about him getting community-service points for his performance tonight wasn’t kidding, I guess.

8:45 p.m. And from “Amen” into “All Summer Long.” You have to admit, dude knows how to pander better than pretty much anyone else out there.

8:46 p.m. For those of you confused as to what he’s singing now: It’s the title track from Rock N Roll Jesus! It will not be available on iTunes tomorrow.

8:50 p.m. The Wrigley Company: Not happy with their ad for Doublemint airing right now. They couldn’t have swapped in the Ne-Yo ad for Big Red last minute?

8:53 p.m. It’s Miley! (And Taylor Swift!)

8:53 p.m. Miley: Waving at people while Taylor sings. Rude!

8:54 p.m. Miley: Not as good a singer as Taylor. Unsurprising!

8:55 p.m. No, really, her voice is like that of Fran Drescher at a “the South sure is funny” party. All drawl and fake smiles.

8:56 p.m. Taylor kind of looks pissed that Miley is ruining her song.

8:56 p.m. (I like this song a lot.)

8:57 p.m. Is Miley yarling???

8:57 p.m. “My best friend, Taylor.” Shut up Miley. Shut up!

8:57 p.m. And now, Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals! That’s Award No. 4, for those of you who care about those sorts of things.

8:58 p.m. Thanks, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, for allowing the Grammys to avoid the possibility of having Rihanna or Chris Brown not accept their awards.

9:00 p.m. I guess Alison’s acceptance speech will come with their next award.

9:00 p.m. Jennifer Hudson.

9:01 p.m. Girl can sing. (When she’s not being swallowed up by the Staples Center.)

9:03 p.m. She almost doesn’t finish the song. Ah Jennifer.

9:05 p.m. For a second when the “Old Time Rock N’ Roll” music started, I was hoping that the Guitar Hero ad in question would be the scandalicious one with Michael Phelps and A-Rod. Alas, it was only Heidi Klum. (I’d have taken the one where David Cook looks hot even.)

9:07 p.m. CBS is really playing up all its musical tie-ins—the NCIS soundtrack, the Diddy CSI cameo. Wherefore Pete & Ashlee, though?

9:09 p.m. CBS-Sanctioned Cameo Number Two has linked arms with a totally dorky-looking Jason Mraz… to introduce… the Jonas Brothers and Stevie Wonder????

9:10 p.m. On vocoder????????

9:11 p.m. T-Pain must be so pissed. And Adam Levine too.

9:11 p.m. This arrangement of “Burnin’ Up” is so old-industry. You know? Like with the 8,000 backing musicians and super-huge “bamp-ba-bamp” bits?

9:12 p.m. Haha I wonder how Rolling Stone‘s commenters are taking the segue into “Superstition.”

9:13 p.m. Am I going to get in trouble if I comment on the nature of the Jonases’ guitar faces? Probably yes, yes? OK then.

9:14 p.m. The only way to follow that up: The reunited Blink-182!

9:15 p.m. Kid Rock’s “hi, camera” face is the slyest of them all.

9:16 p.m. They’re making Travis open the envelope with his working hand. Inside, it says that Coldplay have won the fifth award of the evening, for best rock album.

9:17 p.m. “We’re not the heaviest of rock bands… we’re a limestone sort of rock.” Oh Chris Martin, you’re so British, BBC America would probably closed-caption you right now.

9:17 p.m. “Follow the Grammys on Facebook and Twitter. Coming up, Katy Perry!” Sigh.

9:21 p.m. My much-hoped outcome of Confessions Of A Shopaholic completely flopping is so not going to happen, is it.

9:23 p.m. Here’s Katy Perry, who is “beautifully bi-curious.” And yet, not any of those things!

9:23 p.m. Those giant fruits are making me feel a lot less bad about the music industry tanking. Also, her “dancing” is like, Britney-at-VMA levels. Sure, she knows how to make the stupid eyes, but her “steps” aren’t really distracting from her awful voice enough.

9:25 p.m. KATY PERRY’S RULES FOR A SUCCESSFUL PERFORMANCE: 1. Bend over a lot. 2. ???? 3. Profit!

9:26 p.m. Look! YouTube! See, in the back, all teeny? Yeah, this is totally the last year for any “user-generated” portion of the Grammys.

9:26 p.m. Thanks for scarring the Jonas Brothers for life, Katy.

9:27 p.m. Yay, “American Boy”!

9:28 p.m. Estelle’s getup is reminding me of a sparklier version of a Domo-kun dress:

9:29 p.m. Estelle claps for Bob Newhart during the Best New Artist intro; Kanye gets peevish about never having won. It’s better this way, dude. Trust me.

9:30 p.m. Adele wins. And someone‘s hoping to pull the Jonas Brothers with her trophy…

9:34 p.m. Hey everyone, you know what? The show isn’t even half-over yet!

9:37 p.m. Morgan Freeman almost calls Kenny Chesney a “private” instead of a “pirate.” Hard times for Easy Reader.

9:39 p.m. I am going to hazard a guess that it isn’t songs like this sleepy ballad that are the reason behind Kenny Chesney’s crazy ability to sell concert tickets.

9:40 p.m. And now it’s the controversial… Herbie Hancock! And Diddy and Natalie Cole. Presenting Record Of The Year. (That’s Award No. 6 for the night.)

9:41 p.m. A maternity-dress-draped M.I.A. just made the best face backstage, but it was not enough to stop the Plant/Krauss Old People Juggernaut.

9:44 p.m. Os Mutantes bring us the Happiest Meal Ever.

9:48 p.m. Queen Latifah in elder stateswoman role, discussing Dean Martin… and trying to make some sort of awkward Rat Pack analogy? About “Swagger Like Us”?

9:49 p.m. Oh gosh, she used the term “Rap Pack.” Oh, woof.

9:49 p.m. Yay M.I.A.!!!!!

9:50 p.m. It’s in black and white?

9:51 p.m. This is kind of like… a hot mess.

9:52 p.m. It’s in color! Sense is sort of restored! Lil Wayne is about to tie his shoe!

9:54 p.m. Chris Martin is clapping very politely and saying “woo.”

9:54 p.m. Kate Beckinsale, introducing Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl, has a brain fart.

9:55 p.m. Dave Grohl is your Ringo Starr on “I Saw Her Standing There.” And Ringo lost the Best Surround Sound Album award, too. Someone’s having a bummer night.

9:58 p.m. Do you think they’ll segue into a Very Special Cover Of “In Bloom”?

10:02 p.m. So, four awards and 88 minutes to go. And with no Chris Brown or Rihanna performances, there’s going to be some sort of filler injected into those 88 minutes, and with the economy being as crappy as it is, ads sure aren’t going to be it. Any ideas, commenter braintrust? (And yes, your comments are there, they’re just taking forever to show up thanks to our “legacy system.” Which will be fixed soon. Trust.)

10:04 p.m. Jack Black looks like he is seven.

10:05 p.m. Award No. 7: Best Male Pop Vocal. Ne-Yo’s big smile can flip on and off, like a lightswitch. And yet he loses to noted blogger John Mayer….

10:06 p.m. Which causes the feed to go out for a minute! I thought James Taylor, who wasn’t in the audience, was going to hijack the signal in protest for a second.

10:07 p.m. Sugarland and Adele collaboration. Which would be a crazy idea if it sort of wasn’t, really.

10:12 p.m. Whoa, nodded off there… Um, these performances are nice, if Adele’s got off to something of a slow start. But really, cellists in short skirts? I hope you’re all wearing lollipops.

10:15 p.m. A music awards show makes one notice the music being used in ads a lot more. (See also all those American Idol episodes that are devoted to songs of particular eras.) Which allowed me to learn that Friend Of Braff Amos Lee sings the “sweet pea, apple of my eye” track used in the Cingular ad. I thought the song was much older, actually.

10:17 p.m. “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in a Target ad. Only a few days until pitchers and catchers, everyone. (Surely someone out there watched the MLB Network as much as I did this weekend?)

10:18 p.m. Well, maybe the “more ads” solution is part of CBS’ plan to make up for the Brown/Rihanna void.

10:19 p.m. Gwyneth Paltrow, looking like a LastNight’sParty extra, presents Radiohead, winks at her hubby when calling them “brilliant.”

10:20 p.m. It’s kind of annoying that the Southern California bias means that the USC marching band always gets gigs like this one.

10:20 p.m. No one on the corner has swagger like Thom, apparently. (Check out those high-tops, and his hair!)

10:21 p.m. OK so this is totally great. (I like how all the marchers are wearing In Rainbows shirts like the ones the Virgin Megastore employees wore in the run-up to the album’s official release.)

10:23 p.m. Meanwhile, Chris Brown has turned himself in, and MediaTakeOut is claiming that the JT/Al Green collaboration was a result of the Grammy producers’ “oh shit, we need to fill extra time” scramble.

10:25 p.m. Um, to happier topics: the Olivia Broadfield song in the Lincoln ad is pretty nice.

10:27 p.m. The KT Tunstall song in the Chase ad, however? Not so much. Although I have seen televised versions of her concerts, and her music is sharper, less corporate-rock-arranged.

10:28 p.m. Here is where I offer a shout out to my friend / trivia impresario / chili competition svengali Matt Timms, who is the nerdy-ish guy in the Optimum ad that just aired in the NYC area (and maybe other places?).

10:29 p.m. Um, this is not the first time T.I. and Justin Timberlake have performed at the Grammys together, Samuel L. Jackson. Perhaps you weren’t invited two years ago, but they were on this very same stage.

10:30 p.m. Feedback and the sound dropping out. Oy. Friends, won’t you support the music industry with a purchase today?

10:33 p.m. “Adversity builds character,” T.I. declares. Everyone is getting a lot of sonic “character” tonight.

10:34 p.m. Hello, Academy President Neil Portnow! Yes, he can… tie the Presidential election into the Grammys, because Barack Obama is “one of us”—you know, an artist.

10:35 p.m. Oh, a whole speech based around “yes, we can.” Guess this means the bit is coming up soon!

10:36 p.m. “Bail out the music industry! Please?”

10:38 p.m. The Four Tops tribute with Duke Fakir, Ne-Yo, Jamie Foxx, and Smokey Robinson.

10:39 p.m. Ne-Yo’s voice is nothing like Levi Stubbs’, but I still will stand in his shadows of love any day.

10:41 p.m. That was totally fine. Jamie Foxx got growly, Ne-Yo stayed classy, Smokey and Duke held it down. More like that please.

10:42 p.m. Hey everyone, remember that Christina Aguilera greatest-hits album that came out all those months ago?

10:47 p.m. Josh Groban introducing Neil Diamond. Did you know that the new Josh Groban album is being produced by Rick Rubin?

10:47 p.m. Oh no, NOT “SWEET CAROLINE.” I mean… Neil, you are a legend. But “Cherry Cherry,” or “I Am, I Said,” or even “I’m A Believer”? The whole crowd is going to do that “ba ba ba” thing, I know it.

10:49 p.m. Yep.

10:50 p.m. People are doing the “so good, so good, so good” thing, too! Ugh.

10:51 p.m. That needed a song change or Lil Wayne.

10:51 p.m. And now: The dead people montage. Because nothing brings down a good old singalong high like being reminded that about 1,485 really amazing musicians passed away over the past 12 months.

10:54 p.m. And to close out the memoriam montage… the Bo Diddley tribute, and Keith Urban’s third appearance of the night.

10:55 p.m. Is there a statute of limitations for the memoriam montage? Seems odd to not have Ron Asheton or Lux Interior in there…

11:01 p.m. Twenty-nine minutes to go! We can do it, everybody!

11:02 p.m. Gary Sinise is your latest CBS cross-promotion. He is introducing Lil Wayne by way of Louis Armstrong and Katrina.

11:03 p.m. Lil Wayne and Allen Toussaint. Wow. (And Robin Thicke, as a sort of afterthought. Not that he isn’t old friends with Weezy, but Gary Sinise sort of choked out his name.)

11:03 p.m. As a bonus, this means Weezy probably won’t be performing “Prom Queen.”

11:05 p.m. Robin Thicke’s last album sort of got ignored by everyone, although it was quite good.

11:06 p.m. And now… the Dirty Dozen Brass Band! And dancers! And Terence Blanchard!

11:07 p.m. This, this is the good kind of chaos.

11:08 p.m. Made even better by the utter absence of “Prom Queen.”

11:09 p.m. takes time out to congratulate Barack Obama.

11:10 p.m. T-Pain makes a funny about being on only one of the Best Rap Album nominees. He is another person who is funnier every time I see an interview with him.

11:10 p.m. Lil Wayne wins! And does a little space-hop! And brings about fifteen people on stage.

11:11 p.m. We are all thanked. Hooray for us!

11:11 p.m. Wait, I mean hooray for, and Obama, for making him relevant again.

11:18 p.m. One performance left! One award left! Zooey Deschanel introducing another she and him in an absolutely wretched dress! Is there any way that Plant & Krauss don’t take home the biggest award of the night? (Or that Google Trends is going to spike for “She & Him Deschanel”?)

11:20 p.m. I mean, there are still 10 minutes left in the show’s running time… They could run through the whole album at this point. Would be quite the setup for Viva La Vida‘s win! Ha ha, just kidding.

11:22 p.m. “And now you’ve seen why the idea of touring with Led Zeppelin just doesn’t appeal to me.”

11:23 p.m. Meanwhile, the new Green Day record is called 21st Century Breakdown. Hmmmm.

11:24 p.m. Raising Sand wins. I mean, there was no way that anything else would, right? The audience doesn’t seem very excited, or surprised.

11:25 p.m. But here’s something surprising: Alison Krauss gets to speak!

11:25 p.m. Robert Plant is bewildered? Talking about how even deigning to appear at the Grammys would have been “selling out” in the old days? Oh dude. Spare me, and go count your money somewhere.

11:26 p.m. The producers are daring to play them off! Even though there are four minutes left in the telecast!

11:27 p.m. Stevie Wonder closing out the show with a song from a Barack Obama tribute album. This song’s vapid nature + Billie Joe Armstrong’s haphazard introduction: A sign this performance was a bit “unexpected” as well.

11:30 p.m. The musical director for this show? American Idol bandleader Rickey Minor! Which explains a lot about the punishing middlebrowishness of the last-minute replacements, really.

11:31 p.m. Another year, another Grammy telecast—complete with ridiculous performances, questionable sound quality, and re-rewarding of the biggest names of thirty-plus years ago. (Yes, the album in question is quite good, as a matter of fact, but its pedigree is also so… Grammy, you know?) We’ll have more of a postmortem tomorrow, but for now, my five favorite bits:

• Lil Wayne leading the New Orleans parade. • The look on Adele’s face after she admitted her crush on the Jonas Brothers. • Radiohead and the marching band. • Estelle helping make everything OK after the overamplified trainwreck that was Katy Perry. • M.I.A. M.I.A.!!!

And you know, it’s kind of crummy that Ne-Yo was the only Album Of The Year nominee to not get a performance of his own. Was Rickey Minor afraid that he’d blow too many other people off the stage?