Hello again, PopWatchers! Coming at you direct from the bowels of the Staples Center, I’m proud to present the live-blog of the actual Grammy Awards, where there will be no polka, but there will be the Police. We’re about half an hour away from the big show, and back here in the press room, the pre-telecast winners are still parading through, and the woman who’s in charge of our coop is getting annoyed with us because we’re not asking any questions. She also just accused us of not having a sense of humor. I am desperately trying to come up with a question for the winners of Large Jazz Ensemble Album, but woe is me, I cannot.
So we’re about to get underway, and according to the xeroxed schedule they just handed out, The Police are up first. I had these grandiose plans to try and sneak up to the sniper ring in the rafters to watch them play (I may have “gotten lost” during Coldplay’s set last year), but then I got scared that I’d get caught and tossed out and then you would have no liveblogger and someone would steal this EW laptop and Dierks Bentley would not only have lost his Grammys, he’d have lost his date. I can’t do that to you, or the laptop, or Dierks. Thus, here I sit. In the same building with The Police, but miles away.
7:53 pm There’s a man with a mic on the stage here at Staples warming up the crowd, telling them the rules (“Thank the Pro-Tools guy later”) and pointing out the famous people. He just told Quentin Tarantino to sit his ass down. And you will be glad to know that “Lionel Richie, ladies and gentlemen, is in his seat.” As are Stevie Wonder, Leslie Moonves, and, inexplicably, Philip Bailey.
8 pm And there they are, America: The Police, and they’re back! Sting is, if possible, hotter than ever?
8:01 pm However, I am concerned. Why is he not singing the high “Rahx” notes?
8:02 pm Okay, I am taking votes: When your favorite band reunites, do you want to hear remixed, modernized versions of the songs, or do you want them the way they were? We’ll call this the “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86” Memorial Debate.
8:04 pm We open with a Snoop joke and “Crip-walking” on the Grammys. And suddenly I forgive Jamie Foxx for everything he’s done in the last two years.
8:07 pm Best Pop Collaboration goes to Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett, and first tears of the telecast go to Stevie, accepting in memory of his mother.
8:08 pm Wolfmother are back here, with all of their hair. It is really hard to focus: Do I listen to them talking about how amazing it is to win their first Grammy, or do I listen to Joan Baez introduce the Dixie Chicks?
8:10 pm Natalie Maines, your brown hair brings a tear to my eye. You look gorgeous, woman.
8:11 pm I feel really bad about this, but I have now turned my headphones up to drown out Wolfmother. God, “Not Ready to Make Nice” is beautiful, as is the sound of the crowd cheering at the top of their lungs as Natalie sings “send me a letter saying I’d better shut up and sing or my life will be over.” And the best news: It’s already a Grammy winner tonight, taking Best Country Duo or Group with Vocal.
8:13 pm I have amended my opinion on Natalie Maines to not include her dress in the gorgeous.
8:18 pm Prince: “One word: Beyonce.”
8:19 pm And the curious fashion parade continues: As Ms. Knowles (I’d type “Beyonce” again, but I’m using a PC and I can’t figure out how to get the accent on the “e” — anyone? help?) sings “Listen,” I cannot help but wonder if she knows she has a flower growing out of her head.
8:22 pm What with being late for the Golden Globes, that weird American Idol finale appearance last year, and tonight’s 3 words, Prince is really working just about as little as he has to these days, huh?
8:23 pm The Black Eyed Peas present Best R&B Album to Mary J. Blige, which = her first Grammy, and the second tears of the night.
8:24 pm Mary J. sends no love to the hatahs.
8:25 pm But she does send love to every single person who ever worked in R&B, much to the dismay of the music player-offers.
8:27 pm Queen Latifah is announcing the My Grammy Moment contest finalists. Apparently, we can still vote for one of them. They all seem very nice. Let’s pick one based solely on her name and try and lead her to victory! Umm… Brenda Radney! I choose you. Wield your power, PopWatchers– you’ve got until 10pm. Which means, btw, Justin’s not performing until after 10, and if you’ve tuned in to see him, you’ve got time to hit the gym.
8:32 pm Okay, yeah, I thought that smelled funny: When she won, Mary J. Blige said something about how she’d never been up there before, and made it sound like this was her first Grammy. It is not. Thanks to the powers of actual research, I believe it to be her fourth. So what the hell was she talking about?
8:33 pm Hold up, gym-goers! Justin is performing “What Goes Around Comes Around” RIGHT NOW. Um, wtf? So the Police play for 2 minutes and three seconds… and Justin gets two songs? Does that seem right?
8:35 pm Justin sounds good… but that boy looks a little tired. Or it could be the death light they’ve got on him.
8:36 pm Alt 130? It’s not working, Katie.
8:37 pm Ah! It’s JustinCam! Is this to help the YouTube Nation better appreciate what they’re watching?
8:39 pm According to my calculations, Mary J. Blige has now won 5 Grammys. I am very happy for her. I am also happy Ms. Knowles did not work, b/c I still can’t get this accent figured out.
8:40 pm “It’s in the valley when we learn who we really are,” says Mary J., who has apparently really had it with the hatahs. As I am not so schooled in the Blige lore, what is she talking about? Is she just annoyed about the reception for Love & Life? Or am I missing an international wave of Mary J. Hate that happened sometime between “No More Drama” and now?
8:41 pm Ah, blessed commercial. I can’t see these back here, PopWatchers… have they shown the Taco Bell lions yet? I love those guys. Carrr-ne!
8:46 pm Stevie wants an E5, dammit!
8:47 pm He, Stevie Wonder, is here to tell you, Think again! Corinne Bailey Rae, John Legend, and John Mayer are here to prove Stevie RIGHT! That was maybe the best introduction I’ve heard of anything in a long time. Nice, Stevie!
8:48 pm Corinne Bailey Rae: I would most likely never listen to her CD, but every time I see her perform live, I am thrilled by how lovely and simple and good she is. She just radiates good.
8:52 pm John Legend, on the other hand, radiates snore.
8:55 pm And now the lovely, confusing (Jessica? really?) John Mayer is playing with Corinne. It’s nice. John’s publicist is sitting in front of me. “Look how cute he is,” she grins. Now she is yelling at me to pay attention. Yes ma’am.
PS apparently when Ryan Seacrest asked John about the Jessica Simpson thing on the red carpet, John answered in Japanese. So I think two things: 1) Did anyone see it who speaks Japanese? and 2) Why is this man, who plays amazing guitar solos and has a great sense of humor and WHO SPEAKS JAPANESE, dating Jessica Simpson??
8:58 pm John Mayer wins, and I high-five his publicist.
9:00 pm Okay, so much to get through during this commercial break. First, Nelly Furtado looked scary. Second, I loved the look on Justin’s face when John Mayer won. It wasn’t mean or anything, just a little sad. Gosh, I sure hope he pulls through. And third, I don’t hate the soldiers, I just hate that boring song, “Coming Home.”
9:02 pm The nice girl next to me informs me that E! already translated the John Mayer quote, and apparently it breaks down to something like “She’s a beautiful woman.” We have all agreed that if you’re going to make us take the time to translate, you should at least say something interesting. I suggested “She’s got amazing t—,” but I don’t know if they have a word for that in Japan.
9:03 pm Can I say “t—” on here?
9:06 pm Note to self: ALWAYS wear gold lamé when bellydancing.
9:11 pm Tony Bennett is back here, but once again I must turn up the headphones because the Dixie Chicks and “Not Ready to Make Nice” just won Song of the Year. Hooray! Now, say something controversial!
9:12 pm “For the first time in my life, I’m speechless.” — Natalie Maines
9:13 pm I just got an email from my friend and former EW music critic David Browne, which he has permitted me to reproduce here: “what the hell was that beyonce sh–? it was as if some computer compiled a “song” with one part mariah melisma, one part climax from the lamest whitney houston hit. was there even a SONG in there? no. the whole thing made me nostalgic for an old whitney single–at least you could remember the hook when it ended. ugh.”
9:15 pm Tony Bennett says Sting just blew him out of his seat, and then called Beyoncé “Beyonce,” which means now I can stop dealing with this accented-e nonsense. Because if Tony Bennett says it, it must be right.
9:18 pm Shameless CBS plug: Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders roll in to introduce Gnarls Barkley’s performance… which if you’re a How I Met Your Mother fan, you realize is totally appropriate. Swarls!
9:20 pm Quick: What movie is Gnarls dressed as? I see a pilot uniform… Airplane?
9:21 pm Actually, the curtain just dropped on this epic, backlit rendition of “Crazy,” and I think they might be going for a Robert Wilson thing here. Or maybe Brecht. Yes, that’s it. Bertolt Brecht’s “Crazy.”
9:24 pm The verdict is in: I cannot say “t—“.
9:26 pm Ludacris thanks Bill O’Reilly, we laugh, and then he tells us his dad is in the hospital. Way to immediately kill the biggest laugh of the night so far, Luda.
9:27 pm Have we all voted for Brenda? HAVE WE??
9:28 pm Commercial break, so I’ve got time for a coherent thought: With the exception of “Hips Don’t Lie,” it’s been a fairly subdued show so far, don’t you think? I mean, “Roxanne” was a let’s-call-it-mature version, “Not Ready to Make Nice” is a great song but some heavy stuff, the Mayer/Bailey Rae/Legend stuff was gorgeous but quiet, and even Gnarls took “Crazy” down a giant notch, turning it into something which I have now decided was almost Wagnerian. They are playing Madonna’s “Hung Up” in the arena during the break, and it’s got me more pumped up than anything so far. So what’s going on? Why are people so subdued this evening?
9:35 pm Why must the people come into the press room during the musical performances? Now I am faced with a choice between John Legend in person or Mary J. Blige’s crystal megaphone of a voice on my monitor. Gah.
9:36 pm Do you think the people in the front row were instructed to wave their hands back and forth like that?
9:37 pm Someone just blew the last question for John Legend on “How does it feel to be living up to your name?”
9:38 pm Tears # 3 go to Mary J. Blige, as does the night’s first real, non-perfunctory-because-it’s-the-Police standing ovation.
9:39 pm So Luke Wilson doesn’t want to present cause he can’t sing, Mandy Moore doesn’t want to present cause she’s not country, so they hand it off to LeAnn Rimes? Here’s a thought: Next time, save the $$ (and the gift bags) and just have LeAnn come out alone.
9:40 pm Dixie Chicks win Best Country Album, get smattered applause back here. Natalie gets another chance to stick her foot in her mouth.
9:41 pm Oh my god. Natalie did Nelson. Heh-heh! Genius!
9:59 pm I just typed a bunch of crap that the computer ate. I’m in the midst of a rage blackout, but here’s a quick rundown: I had to skip most of the country stuff because John Mayer came back here into the press room. We tried to get him to speak Japanese; he refused and said he was tired of being the press’s bitch. I’m fairly certain he was kidding. Then I got back to the telecast in time to hear “Desperado” (Carrie Underwood, still the karaoke queen) and “Life in the Fast Lane” (whatever). So why did the country music medley start off as a tribute to Bob Wills and end up as an Eagles showcase?
10:01 pm Carrie Underwood, karaoke queen… and Best New Artist. Dang.
10:03 pm You realize that, based on statistics, this means Carrie Underwood’s career is effectively over, right?
10:04 pm The other thing I typed in that block of stuff that vanished into the internets, never to be seen again, was that these Lifetime Achievement Awards are total nonsense. They should be called the Totally Fake Lifetime Achievement Award Designed Expressly To Get More Celebrities Into The Audience For The Viewers At Home. Honestly, there’s no reason to get worked up about them at all (and again, How I Met Your Mother complainers, I must encourage you to make the Gnarls/Swarls connection for yourselves). They remind me of that time on the VMAs when Michael Jackson thought he was getting the Artist of the Millennium Award when really, they were just trying to say happy birthday.
10:07 pm The woman next to me took one look at Christina Ricci and started humming the Addams Family theme song. For the record, I rather like Christina’s dress, and feel that it is minimizing her bobblehead.
10:08 pm For the record, they are here to introduce something my rundown is calling “R&B Performance.” Did you get up and pee during the country stuff? I guarantee the other half of the country is doing that right now.
10:10 pm Tonight, the role of Smokey Robinson will be played by Smokey Robinson’s Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum Representation.
10:12 pm OMG we should totally reenact the “Hello” video right now, featuring Lionel Richie as himself, Corinne Bailey Rae as the blind girl, and Smokey Robinson’s Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum Representation as the sculpture of Lionel’s head.
10:14 pm Wait, scratch that. Let’s do a creepy sort of Stomp the Yard-in-hell dance routine, and then reveal that– GASP!— it was Chris Brown under the devil mask the whole time!!!! Yes, this is much better.
10:15 pm Still trying to figure out that transition from “Hello” to “Run It.” Although if Chris Brown keeps backflipping, there’s a chance I will become so distracted I’ll no longer care.
10:16 pm And the press room waits, poised for Christina Aguilera to bring it.
10:17 pm If Carrie Underwood turns out even half as well as Xtina, we will be a lucky, lucky nation indeed. Holy s—.
10:19 pm I am pretty sure I know where James Brown’s soul went: Right into the heart of a skinny blond chick who used to wear assless chaps.
10:19:30 pm Jamie Foxx: I am back to being over you. Go away now.
10:21 pm Coming up, according to my rundown: “In Memoriam segment with a Chris Brown dance break to ‘Night Train'”. I am not kidding.
10:26 pm Someone needs to tell these two kids that if they stick with the classical music they’ll be doomed to the pre-telecast.
10:28 pm “And now that we’re done celebrating the musicians of the future, here’s a look at some of the musicians with no future whatsoever, because they are dead.”
10:29 pm Syd Barrett gets applause in the press room; Buck Owens gets what sounds like the first big hand from the crowd; it’s nice that they included Ed Bradley but that seems like they’re pushing it; Gerald Levert takes it up another notch; Ahmet Ertegun is currently winning the clap-off… but he doesn’t have a chance against James Brown. And I’m assuming this is where our dance break comes?
10:34 pm All jokes about Chris Brown being the new Debbie Allen aside, that moment with James Brown’s cape was really touching, almost unexpectedly so. I’m assuming that was Danny Ray, his long-time emcee and cape man. Whoever it was, that was lovely. Thank you. God, I feel so sincere right now.
10:38 pm I am glad that David Spade is retaining his self of sense.
10:39 pm Heads up: You are one short Ludacris number away from James Blunt. Do whatever you need to do to get ready for that.
10:40 pm Because this Ludacris performance is boring me and because I like to meddle, I’m going to weigh in on your little budding flame war: Downloading music is illegal and it costs people their jobs and livelihoods. Both of my parents are professional musicians; I was fed, housed, clothed, educated thanks to the money they made from being exquisitely talented and compensated accordingly. If things keep going in the direction they’re headed, the life my family had will no longer exist. I know CD prices are high and rock stars lead exorbitant lives, but that still doesn’t make it okay to steal music, any more than it’s okay to walk into a bookstore and snake a novel off the shelf. Period, end of story, case closed.
10:44 pm Poor James Blunt. You are going to be singing this inane song until the day you die. At which point you will appear in the “In Memorium” reel and get what I predict to be a medium level of half fond, half ironic applause.
10:47 pm Carrie Underwood is back here looking adorable; she says tonight proved that American Idol can transcend its talent show reputation. She also basically sidestepped a question about the Dixie Chicks, so some lady took that as the perfect opportunity to ask her if Dallas Cowboys QB and now-legendary football holder Tony Romo would be “part of her celebration” tonight. (No, he’s at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, duh.) And then some hard-hitting journalists over on the left side of the room rephrased the Dixie Chicks question, prompting Carrie to say, “All I can really say is, I’m happy for them, and I’ll leave it at that.” Which led the hard-hitting folks to ask if she’d been TOLD not to say something. Conspiracy! Paranoia! Basically, Carrie Underwood was just mauled by the press room.
10:54 pm No one here in the press room has any idea which girl is having a Grammy Moment, but I’m fairly certain it’s not Brenda. Way to let me down, PopWatchers. I’ve given you the best years of my life.
10:56 pm We now believe this is Robin Troup, and that T.I. just looked at her ass as he came up the stairs. All jokes aside, she is holding her own admirably.
10:58 pm Here’s what’s crazy, though, if you think about it: Probably half of the people in the building resent Carrie Underwood for coming up through American Idol; meanwhile, Carrie Underwood is probably deeply resenting Robin Troup for winning a stupid online contest and getting more screen time than Carrie Underwood and the Police combined.
10:59 pm Whatever Quentin Tarantino’s on, I think it really would have made this live blog better.
11:00 pm Dixie Chicks win Record of the Year and the press room makes a sort of strange noise, like a combination between happiness, shock, bewilderment, boredom, and a deflating innertube.
11:03 pm Personal to whoever just accused me of hating country: I am a native Texan whose only dream for her 25th birthday was to attend the Grand Ol’ Opry, who is flying home to Houston in March to see Sugarland at the rodeo, and who will be spending the next 2-3 hours with Dierks Bentley. So what was your point again?
11:08 pm “This next band had their c*cks in socks long before Justin put his d*ck in a box.” Chris Rock for poet laureate!
11:10 pm You can give Anthony Kiedis all the Grammys you want, but that’s still not gonna make him sing in tune live. Yowch.
11:13 pm Happy New Year, love, the Red Hot Chili Peppers!
11:14 pm Because why wouldn’t Al Gore and Queen Latifah be presenting an award right now. My schedule says this is supposed to be Melissa Etheridge presenting Best Rock Album. Hmm.
11:16 pm Told you to bet on the Chili Peppers… and okay, FINE, I’ll go buy this album. Stop hitting me. Ow.
11:16:30 pm PS: Nice outfit, Flea. I’m not going to complain, because so long as we are keeping you clothed, everyone wins.
11:19 pm Okay, just one more to go: Album of the Year… and you gotta figure it’s a two-horse race, Dixie vs. Pepper. Quick, PopWatchers: Place your bets…
11:23 pm Scarlett Johansson and… Jesus, who is that? Don Henley? Is that you? What the hell happened to your face??
11:25 pm I was just going to write something snarky about Scarlett hypnotizing me, but HOLY HELL! DIXIE CHICKS SWEEP!!! This is phenomenal!!!
11:26 pm Poor Justin. He’s gotta be thinking, “I did all this effing work and I come away with one lousy pre-telecast award??” (I don’t really want to consider what Timbaland must be thinking, frankly.)
11:27 pm And we’re done? That’s it? I always feel like these shows need more of a denouement, don’t you? Ah well. I’ll tell you what needs a denouement, and that’s my butt. Dear Staples Center chairs: You suuuuuck.
11:32 pm Today is My Grammy Moment winner Robyn Troup’s 19th birthday, just in case you were worried she couldn’t get any more charming. She is also from Texas, and therefore someone is now asking her about the Dixie Chicks.
11:37 pm From the horse’s mouth: Mary J. Blige was talking about the crappy reviews for Love & Life when she was going on about the “valley.” I am so insightful!
11:41 pm 1993 was apparently the last time a band won Record, Album, and Song of the Year, as the Dixie Chicks did tonight. The winner? Eric Clapton, and “Tears in Heaven.”
Not sure if anybody else is coming back here — the moderator lady just said she didn’t know, which pitched the room into chaos– but I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for joining me here, and putting up with my hateful behavior for the duration of the show. I know you have a lot of choices when it comes to your live-blogging, and I’d like to thank you for making EW a part of your night. On a personal note, I’d like to thank all those who brought their A-game in the comments, especially whoever referenced Puppy Bowl.
11:43 pm Oh snap: One of my intrepid fellow press room hostages just informed us that the last sweep was actually Santana in 2000.
11:53 pm I’m gonna wrap up here, cause there doesn’t seem to be anyone else coming back to grace us with their presence. A quick, not-very-well-thought-out list of my highlights:
The Police, for whatever it was worth
The Dixie Chicks’ sweep
Mary J. Blige’s performance
Christina Aguilera channeling James Brown, down on her knees for you!
Corinne Bailey Ray’s goodness and John Mayer’s orgasm-faced soloing
The comments of my fellow press room snarks
Imogen Heap’s hair
The sourdough pretzels I brought with me
and weirdly, Lionel Richie.
Hope you didn’t all hate me too much. Now I’m off to the EMI party with my boy Dierks — will report back in the morning. Every mile of this live-blog has, indeed, been a memory.