Good afternoon, PopWatchers, and welcome to our first-ever attempt at live-blogging the Grammy Awards… from in the press room. (ooooooooooooh.)
This represents a serious new level of trust on the part of my PopWatch editors, both in the fact that I can be reasonably compelling while sitting in a small room backstage at the Staples Center, and in my abilities to push the “post” button myself without writing something that’s gonna get us sued. I know that with this responsibility comes great power, and I will try not to disappoint.
4:43 pm Right now, I am seated on a wooden chair behind a long table in the same conference room they stick us in every year. They finally got the a/c turned on back here, which is a terrific coup for all of us, but sandwiches aren’t arriving until 4:30, so I’m glad I brought pretzels. On the monitors, the pre-telecast awards are being presented in the convention center next door. This kicked off with Miss Universe hitting on Steve Vai (and a woman I can only assume was Steve’s wife yelling out from the audience that she didn’t mind), and then OK Go and their treadmills won the first award, Music Video/Short Form, for “Here It Goes Again.” I am not sure if any of the rest of these will be interesting to you guys but I will go ahead and keep an eye on the proceedings in case excitement breaks out. Bear in mind, they will be handing out 97 awards over the next 3 hours. If you’re desperate to know who just took #14, “Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (Without Orchestra),” I’m sure the internet can help you out in that regard.
5:03 pm Oh, all right: Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (Without Orchestra) just went to Maurizio Pollini, for his Chopin Nocturnes. Mr. Pollini could not attend, so they accepted it on his behalf. More notable was the winner of Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (With Orchestra), which went to Angelin Chang and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and Ms. Chang was trembling with excitement when she took the stage. This made me realize that I probably shouldn’t make fun of the pre-telecast awards, because these are really, really important to the people who are winning them.
5:30 pm Holy moly. Ike Turner just won for Best Traditional Blues Album. Yes, that Ike Turner.
5:40 pm Bruce Springsteen and his Seeger Sessions just won Traditional Folk Album; Bob Dylan won Contemporary Folk Album for Modern Times. Neither of them were here to accept their award. “I wish these guys would show up so I could say hello,” grumbled the woman opening the envelopes.
5:52 pm So I was outside walking here from the parking garage and I passed this dude wearing a very fetching pink scarf and thought to myself, “My, that is a fetching pink scarf that dude is wearing.” Well, now he has a Grammy to match: Turns out that dude was one of the Klezmatics, who just won for Best Contemporary World Music Album. Also, congrats to Jimmy Sturr on his 16th Polka Grammy, and for keeping the Polka category alive.
6:02 pm It should come as no surprise that Rick Rubin just won Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) for his work with Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, and the Dixie Chicks. He, too, is not here, but Jimmy Jam — who’s opening the envelopes at the moment — said he’d just run it by the studio tonight.
6:03 pm And now a special performance from blues lady Susan Tedeschi! We’ll pretend like they didn’t put her in there to give people a chance to pee, and say that this is cool, and way more interesting to listen to on my special little press room headphones than, say, people I’ve never heard of droning on about ow honored they are to have won this year’s Grammy for Best Remixed Recording.
6:07 pm Susan Tedeschi is done now. 97 awards, people.
6:10 pm Johnny Lang is back here (cute!) and he just confessed that he’s a little confused about the “whole process” because he doesn’t consider his album, Turn Around, to be a gospel album… and he just won his first-ever Grammy for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album. However, he does admit that going forward his work is going to be more and more, “uh, gospel.” You heard it here first, PopWatchers: Johnny Lang is going with God.
6:17 pm Lewis Black just won Best Comedy Album, and refreshingly, he’s here. “I never win s—!” he said, and then commented that he wished he could be a musician, “but my piano teacher had arthritis, and that really sets you back.” He then thanked “everyone who ever lived, ever,” and disappeared, a trail of refreshing obscenities in his wake.
6:32 pm Holy moly. Ike Turner is 15 feet away from me. He is wearing a lovely lavender and gold suit, which he says he got at a pawn shop, and tells us he is working on a new genre of music called “blues-hop,” which seems to be exactly what you’d think. Everyone is very polite to Ike.
6:33 pm And so it begins: “SexyBack” gets its first Grammy, for Dance Recording. Naturally, neither Justin Timberlake nor Timbaland are there to accept it.
6:37pm Best Tejano Album winner Chente Barrera comes into the press room, which surprises the people paying attention because he wasn’t in the ceremony to pick up his award. “I was on the red carpet,” he said. “My publicist said it was important and I couldn’t skip it.” Nice job, publicist!
6:39 pm Randy Jackson says “man” a comparatively meager 3 times while accepting the Best R&B Duo or Group with Vocal Grammy for that Sly and the Family Stone tribute thing they spun off last year’s show.
6:41 pm Gnarls Barkley score their first win of the night for “Crazy” in the curious Best Urban/Alternative Performance. Current presenter Charlie Pride has a remarkably hard time pronouncing “Gnarls,” and of course, they don’t show up.
6:45 pm Jesus takes Carrie Underwood’s wheel and gets her a Best Female Country Vocal performance Grammy. Shockingly, she is there, and happily chirps, “It’s my first Grammy!” Then she goes on to say there are a lot of people she has to thank, and the first of those people? God. Who is, I feel compelled to point out, not technically a person.
6:47 pm Dierks Bentley, a lovely young man and my date for the EMI party later this evening, does not win Best Male Country Vocal. Oh dear. I hope this doesn’t make him crabby.
6:48 pm Dixie Chicks!
6:49 pm The sandwiches are here. Cue freeloading-journalist feeding frenzy.
6:50 pm Well, dang. Dierks loses out again, this time on the songwriting award. I swear to god, Carrie Underwood, if he is crabby later, I am going to key your car.
6:53 pm Those flipping out about how there are no POLICE would do well to remember that this is not the actual telecast, just the pre-telecast, and they are not nominated for anything this year.
6:56 pm Miss Universe has a remarkably hard time pronouncing “Ain’t No Other Man.”
6:57 pm Now the big names are flying fast and furious: John Mayer wins best Male Pop Vocal. He does not show up, most likely because he is off somewhere making out with Jessica Simpson, who I have on good authority he’ll be taking to the Sony-BMG party tonight.
6:58 pm Steve Vai just had to say “My Humps.” That’s right: “My Humps” is now a Grammy Award-winning song.
6:59 pm Red Hot Chili Peppers 1, Albums I Actually Bought This Year 0
7:01 pm Wolfmother bring the momentum to a screeching, afroed halt by winning, and actually showing up.
7:02 pm There is a man behind me tossing devil horns and yelling, “Slayerrrrr!”
7:03 pm Red Hot Chili Peppers 2, Albums I Actually Bought This Year 0
7:04 pm Gnarls Barkley wins Best Alternative Album… and, that’s it! We’re done! 97 awards in under 3 hours! Not bad, Steve Vai and Miss Universe, not bad.
7:16 pm Personal to Sven: I think Dan Zanes won. Also, for those confused by my RHCP comments: Yes, they won Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Album for Stadium Arcadium, an album I did not purchase. It’s two CDs! I am lazy.
All right, PopWatchers: I will be back in a little under an hour with the actual telecast. If you’re calling your bookies, based on what we’ve seen here, the Chili Peppers and Carrie Underwood cannot lose.*
* Entertainment Weekly does not guarantee the quality of their wagering advice.