It starts with JAY-FREAKING-Z.
Put it on, and just try and tell me you don’t love it.
Returning host LL Cool J tucked his ears into a Kangol hat and shared a handful of awful puns to bring music superstars together tonight.
His personal stories were long-winded and confusing, though not quite on par with Jodie Foster’s now infamous Emmy speech.
The red carpet coverage was entertaining, but can we all back off from pushing the social media stuff? Hashtag: It’s overkill.
The Fashions: Some snoozes, some surprises
- Finally dressing her age, Taylor Swift’s flowing gown was stunning. And that’s the only nice thing I’ll say about her tonight.
- Jennifer Lopez clearly missed the restricted dress-code memo (and later joked about it). Honey, your cooch is loose. Oh also? You’re FORTY-THREE.
- Usually adventurous Beyonce donned a bland pantsuit, but she’s Queen B and looked gorgeous anyway. Former DC3 band mate Kelly Rowland wowed in my fave dress of the night.
- Katy Perry said she channeled Priscilla Presley, and I think The King himself would be pleased with her tribute. Va-va-voooom — but where were notoriously wacky Lady Gaga and Nicki Manaj?
- Katy’s BFF Rihanna looked far more glamorous than I’ve seen her in a while, and first-timer Carly Rae Jepsen slinked and sparkled in a gorgeous gown.
- No idea what Adele was thinking, but I’ll allow post-pregnancy brain as her excuse.
The Performances: Where actors prove their relevance for attending
- Taylor Swift opened with that awful never, ever song — in a surprising departure from her sickly sweet scenery. Still no rhythm, Tay Tay. Like, ever.
- Sir Elton John and Ed Sheeran collaborated to perform a dazzling rendition of the latter’s hit single “The A Team.”
- Neil Patrick Harris included Barney Stinson trademark “legendary” in his introduction of fun. for their sweet ballad, “Carry On.”
- Quintessential douche John Mayer stood with icon Bonnie Raitt. They announced Miranda Lambert and tour mate Dierks Bentley’s too-loud dual duets. Say that five times fast!
- Is Johnny Depp homeless now? He sure looks it. Mumford & Sons strummed and sung an electric “I Will Wait” to shift our focus away from Depp’s derelict designs.
- Beyonce and Ellen DeGeneres paired up perfectly to introduce OMG JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE. His “Suit and Tie” world premiere was simply fantastical, even better in, you guessed it: black and white. Jay-Z joined in because he can and we loved him for it.
- Maroon 5 led with “Daylight” before Alicia Keys brought it home with “Girl on Fire.” Adam Levine is better speaking, not singing. Alicia’s crooning (and drumming!) saved my ears yet again.
- Rihanna and Mickey Echo belted “Stay” to a silenced crowd. Finally, a Ri Ri song I don’t hate!
- 1 Broke Girl Kat Dennings announced The Black Keys, performing alongside Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Doctor John. Hipster magic was made and they lived happily ever after.
- Kelly Clarkson paid homage to Patti Page and Bonnie Tyler with respective renditions of “The Tennessee Waltz” and “A Natural Woman.” Get it, girl.
- The much-anticipated Bob Marley tribute kicked off with Bruno Mars and his lovable backup dancers, followed by powerhouse performers Sting, Rihanna and Damian and Ziggy Marley. Shout-out to everyone singing along, especially NPH and that one white guy with his arms crossed.
- The Lumineers nailed “Ho Hey” before introducing Jack White. The former was an entertaining escape; the latter was reminiscent of old jams to The White Stripes. Even Nicole Kidman said it was awesome.
- Newcomer Hunter Hayes warbled through “Wanted,” but I’m told that’s how it should sound. Carrie Underwood appeared with “Blown Away.” Yet another example of sound techs needing to check before they wreck!
- An acoustic and bilingual “Your Song” by Latin GRAMMY winner Juanes was soft and sweet before introducing Frank Ocean for “Forrest Gump.” Lieutenant Dan, ICE CREAM?!
- LL Cool J teamed up with Travis Barker and others to close the show. “WHADDUP” felt out of place, but I always enjoy a “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” nod.
The Winners: 3.5 hours of coverage, and only 11 televised gramaphones
- Spicy songsters Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull presented Best Pop Solo Performance to Adele for her live version of “Set Fire to the Rain.” In a 15ish-second speech, she held the award awkwardly and called J. Lo her good luck charm. Adorbs all around.
- Hot-this-moment Miguel and Wiz Khalifa worked the crowd in patterned suits before presenting Best Country Solo Performance to American (Idol) sweetheart Carrie Underwood for “Blown Away.” Her heartfelt speech was also short and sweet.
- Country’s favorite couple (right, guys?) Tim McGraw and Faith Hill awarded fun. with coveted Song of the Year honor for “We Are Young,” as performed with Janelle Monae. Many thanks were given to their fellow musicians, with Jay-Z shouting back “You’re welcome!” Classic HOVA.
- Proud presenters Kelly Rowland and Nas announced first-ever Best Urban Contemporary Album winner Frank Ocean for Channel Orange. You mad, Chris Brown?
- Producer of the Year Dan Auerbach was announced by Pauly Perrette and my future first husband, Dave Grohl. They then honored Auerbach’s band mates, The Black Keys, with Best Rock Performance for “Lonely Boy.”
- Kaley Cuoco shouted alongside American Idol judge Keith Urban to present first AI winner Kelly Clarkson with Best Pop Vocal Album. She rambled and ran around like a crazy person. Perfection.
- Carly Rae Jepsen and Ne-Yo presented Jay-Z, Kanye West, Frank Ocean and The Dream with Best Rap Song Collaboration. Mr. West was absent, but Jay-Z killed again.
- Best Country Album went to The Zac Brown Band for Uncaged, and their thanks to the fans brought roars from the crowd.
- Eyelash line creator Katy Perry joked and presented Best New Artist to fun., who should definitely change that period to an exclamation point (NPH)! Their pee jokes were great too.
- The man, the legend, the symbol, the cane: Prince! He handed over the GRAMMY for Record of the Year to Gotye and Kimbra for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” No surprise there.
- 2012’s GRAMMY cleaner-upper, Adele, presented Album of the Year to Mumford & Sons for “Babel.” Their flirtation with the crowd (and Adele) was both humble and humorous.
Before its In Memoriam segment, The GRAMMY Foundation announced a brand-new category, set to begin in 2014: The Music Educator Award.
And speaking of education, the touching Sandy Hook tribute brought a wealth of performers together — and the crowd to its feet.
Did you watch? How do you think it compared to last year’s event?
A sampling of favorites, courtesy of cleverly created YouTube channels:
“Wrong Song” – Juliette Barnes f. Rayna James
“No One Will Ever Love You” – Rayna James f. Deacon Claybourne
“Undermine” – Juliette Barnes f. Deacon Claybourne
Plus these guys:
- “I Will Fall” – Gunnar Scott & Scarlett O’Connor
- “Telescope” – Juliette Barnes
- “Buried Under” – Rayna James
Check out this week’s episode — the winter finale — to get yourself hooked too. “Nashville” airs Wednesdays on ABC at 10/9c.