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LL Cool J spent most of the night reminding viewers to ''Tweet hashtag bloop bleep!'' but at least he opened the night on a touching note. Skipping tired jokes and lame skits, LL instead opted for a rare, unexpected moment of spiritual sincerity in honor of last year's fallen Grammy guest Whitney Houston.
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It began on the red carpet. ''They didn't say anything about legs!'' a coy J. Lo quipped, referring to a leaked CBS dress code memo. And she still had a sense of humor about it by the time she got on stage as a presenter (alongside a flashback for TV audiences to her classic super-low-cut Grammys dress, as if we had forgotten her outrageous outfit of 2000). ''As you can see,'' she assured the audience, ''I read the memo.'' In your face, CBS!
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Perhaps it's because his 31st birthday is coming up this month, or maybe it was seeing the ageless Taylor Swift open the night, but something made fun. leader Nate Ruess realize he's not a kid anymore. ''I don't know what I was thinking writing the chorus for this song,'' the singer said as he accepted the Song of the Year award for ''We Are Young.'' ''If this is in HD, everybody can see our faces, and we are not very young.''
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Kelly Clarkson was having a gas last night. She photobombed Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, paid tribute to Carole King and Patti Page, and won the Best Pop Vocal Album award for Stronger. Adorably, her speech was loose and off-the-cuff, providing one of the evening's rare bouts of laughter in the audience. She hit on Miguel, called out her fiancé for being sexy, and delivered this gem: ''I got stuck on Miranda Lambert. There's a story and a song — for later, after alcohol. I'm just kidding, children. I get nervous speaking in front of people.''
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Sure, Rick Ross was in the house, but it was Jay-Z who was acting like a bawse. Sitting in the front row with Bey, JT, and J-Biel, the tux-clad Hov popped bottles of champagne and played bartender for the night.
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Ellen and Beyoncé aren't single ladies, but that didn't stop DeGeneres from gazing moonily at her co-presenter. Bey valiantly tried to maintain a straight face, but we weren't so lucky
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Though he wound up taking home two awards, Frank Ocean was sweetly nervous at his first trip to the Grammys. After assuring the audience that he wasn't picturing them naked, Ocean gave his mother her due as he accepted the Best Urban Contemporary Album. ''I want to say thank you to my mother for being the best,'' the son said to his teary-eyed mother, who proudly supported him from the crowd.
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Like Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift also acted up all night. It began with her opening performance of ''We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,'' parts of which she delivered in a British accent — a poke at ex Harry Styles, perhaps. The rest of her evening was full of dancing, singalongs, and hand-hearts.
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The sights and sounds of Bruno Mars and Sting rocking out in the name of Bob Marley was enough to whip the audience into euphoria, particularly during a stirring run through ''Locked Out of Heaven'' that had everyone from Nicole Kidman and Neil Patrick Harris to Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose (shown) jamming along. Things reached fever pitch when Rihanna and Marley's sons Ziggy and Damian hopped on stage to round out the tribute with a performance of ''Could You Be Loved.''
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Move over, Little Drummer Boy. As Alicia Keys and Jack White's backing drummer proved, hot lady percussionists are ready to party.
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As with his recent Billboard cover (or, you know, his everything), Prince decided to show up to the Grammys looking like a jazzy Marvel villain. He even had a cane!
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''I was never even nominated in this category,'' Katy Perry said before presenting the Best New Artist award. ''And I have my own eyelash line. Take that, Bon Iver.'' Hey-o! It's funny because it's true.
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As we mentioned earlier, Hova spent the night looking like Jay Gatsby. The decidedly elegant scene made his playful zinger to The-Dream — ''I would like to thank the swap meet for his hat,'' referring to the singer's ridiculous headgear — that much funnier. (Point of fact: The-Dream revealed backstage his hat was from '80s mall go-to Spencer's. Nice.)
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Though they weren't tapped to perform in full, Hunter Hayes and Juanes didn't waste a second of their introductions to Carrie Underwood and Frank Ocean, respectively. Hayes crooned his ''Wanted,'' while Juanes paid tribute to Sir Elton John with a bilingual rendition of ''Your Song.'' Well-played, guys. Leave 'em wanting more.
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Ever saucy, Adele gave everyone a hearty chuckle with some self-referential humor: ''Most artists who have won Album Of The Year tend to have more success, embark on humungous tours — or get knocked up like last year's winner.''