By Kyle Anderson
February 08, 2013 at 06:43 PM EST
Lloyd Bishop/Getty Images
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  • Music

A look at the nominations for this Sunday’s Grammy Awards points to an interesting trend: Apparently, the road to Grammy-nominated glory runs through the Rockefeller Center studio that houses Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Many of this weekend’s potential winners have had their biggest moments on the show, from Frank Ocean’s TV debut to the “music room” remix of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”

What’s more, there could be Grammy gold coming to the show itself: Fallon’s Blow Your Pants Off (which consists largely of musical bits from the show) is nominated for Best Comedy Album, and house band the Roots’ Undun is up for Best Rap Album. EW caught up with Fallon a few weeks back to go over some of his show’s biggest highlights from this year’s crop of Grammy nominees.

Frank Ocean

“We booked the Odd Future guys a while back, before they got signed. So we stayed in touch with them, and Frank Ocean is from that crew, and we heard he had a record coming out, so we booked him to perform—he was making his TV debut on our show. Two days before is when he tweeted out that letter about his sexuality. That’s so crazy to do in the world of R&B and hip-hop, it’s just a thing that’s not really done. No one does that. So it made all these headlines, and the tag to all the headlines was, ‘And he’s performing on Jimmy Fallon.’

“So people all tuned in to see what this guy’s story was. They arranged a beautiful version of ‘Bad Religion’ with the Roots, and it was a stunner. You have those moments on the show, and you feel that it’s a moment. Like, ‘Oh wait, this is a happening. We’re all experiencing something right now.”

Bruce Springsteen

“If you’ve seen Bruce Springsteen in concert, you know that it’s like a roller coaster: You’re screaming, you’re laughing, you’re crying, just constantly moving. He did ‘Jack of All Trades,’ and people were weeping. We did a sketch together where I did Neil Young, and he did Bruce from the ’80s, with a headband and a sleeveless jean jacket. We did ‘Sexy and I Know It,’ a slowed-down version. It was ridiculous. So then his manager was like, ‘Bruce wants to know if you have any favorites, and he’ll do a bonus song for the web.’ So I asked for ‘E Street Shuffle,’ and he says, ‘Of course he’ll do it, but he wants to know if the Roots will play with him?’ Do I even need to ask the Roots if they want to play with the E Street Band? And then Bruce wanted to invite the crowd to the floor to have a dance party. So I go, ‘We’ve never done that, but I’ll ask.’ So I went to our producers and our security guard, and they come back and say absolutely not, no way, it’s a fire hazard, can’t do it, it’s illegal. So I said, ‘Well then, forget I asked you. This never happened. No one asked you this. We never talked.’ Because I’m not going to let Bruce Springsteen down. And of course I’m not letting this go on the web, this is going right to the show. So I said, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, Bruce Springsteen.’ The E Street Band starts playing, the Roots start playing with them, the crowd goes nuts, Bruce invites them down, everybody is dancing and screaming. It was a full-on shindig. I don’t know what to compare it to. There’s a dent in our stage, because he just knocked the crap out of it. I never smiled so much in my life. My cheeks hurt me. You could see how much fun everybody was having—even the security guard was having fun. It was that four minutes where you go, you know what? Life is fun. It was magic, just magic.”

Carly Rae Jepsen

“That was an idea from two of our writers, John Haskell and Mike DiCenzo. They had this idea where the Roots play a version of a song with just instruments you’d find in a classroom, like xylophone, woodblock, and recorder. So I said I love it, and they said they knew Carly Rae Jepsen was coming and what if we asked her to do a version of ‘Call Me Maybe’? Her people said she’d love to do it. So we did it in one take, with one camera. That’s the green room where the musicians hang out before they’re on our stage. She just nailed it and showed everybody she could actually sing. Even people who hated that song watched it and said, ‘Wait a minute, she can sing! This is kind of fun.’ I remember saying to Questlove, ‘We look like the Muppets!’ We were kind of shaking in all different directions, and when the beat kicks in, everyone was kind of jumping around and dancing. And I think it made people love and appreciate the song even more after that, and it stayed number one for an extra month or something. It was already overplayed, so the fact that we made people play it even more was like, ‘You sons of bitches. I just got that song out of my head. Why would you do this?’ But it’s a great pop song, and it deserved it. That video went uber viral. I think the only thing that got more hits than that was ‘Slow Jam the News’ with the President of the United States. That was the most viral thing we’ve ever done. So it’s the President and Carly Rae Jepsen.”

Fun.

“Fun. came on our show, and I think we had their first TV performance of ‘Some Nights.’ And they just hit a homer. People who didn’t even really know them, they were like, ‘Oh, those are the guys from “We Are Young”? That’s those guys? I love them!’ The crowd was really into that one. We give you the stage, but you have to show up. And it’s moments like that when the band really hits a home run that are incredible. I think they got Saturday Night Live based on that. It’s that Springsteen moment, that Frank Ocean moment, that Fun. moment, where you go, ‘Something just happened. This is great.’ I’m rooting for all those guys at the Grammys so hard.”

The Roots

“We were so excited when the nominations came out. At first, I was like, ‘Let’s just ignore this.’ I went out to my friend’s birthday party, and in the middle of the party I got the e-mail that we got nominated, so I freaked out and ordered shots for everybody, totally overshadowing my friend’s birthday. Then I calmed down, and I got another e-mail that said the Roots got nominated, and I was like, ‘More shots for everybody!’ I probably ruined my friend’s birthday party, but I was freaking out. We were so excited the next day, but you can’t really talk about yourself on the show, like ‘How cool are we?’ But I just couldn’t help myself, I had to announce the Roots got nominated. But then the Roots were like, ‘Well you got nominated too!’ It kind of backfired. I think we edited it off the show, because you can’t just pat yourself on the back like that. But we were so excited. Backstage we were geeking out. What are the chances the host and the band both get nominated for Grammy Awards?”

Read More on EW.com:

Grammys 2013: Complete Coverage

Frank Ocean’s rising tide: How the genre-bending hip-hop artist swam to the top of the Grammys

Grammys: How Did ‘Best New Artist’ Do?

Grammys: 20 ‘You Never Won?!’ Acts

Jimmy Fallon presents a cappella freak show with ‘Sounds…Good?’ game — VIDEO

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