11:11: This has been an evening with essentially no musical surprises, and an awful lot of staid performance. But I have to say I really appreciate Nicki Minaj doing something utterly bonkers, even if it was sort of a mess. And though it was a) likely an accident, b) following Madonna’s path to stardom, c) possibly auditioning for American Horror Story, Nicki turns out to be on-message given that Catholicism is at the heart of the most heated political debate of the moment.
10:37: The Grammys president is getting his Bruce Springsteen on here with a pitch for music education and MusiCares: “We take care of our musicians in our creative community in their times of crisis.” On the other hand, given the artists with drug problems who died last year, it’s a bit odd to pitch the charity on the grounds that it gets people sober.
10:08: Adele, back from vocal surgery, sounds pretty great. But her performance, especially in comparison to a lot of what we’ve seen on stage tonight, is a reminder of how little authentic vocal performance matters at the Grammys—and in the industry overall—anymore.
9:52: I’m pretty sure Adele took looking-happy-and-grateful lessons from Taylor Swift. That said, she totally deserves this award.
9:22: People who are dismayed by this Beach Boys tribute in general and performance in particular should go buy the Live in London album, which is just divine, and very funny. The band sounds amazing and spends all the breaks making fun of the hysterically excited crowd. Which is not nice. But is very entertaining.
9:14: The Decemberists should win more things. Not least because they are awesomely progressive.
8:48: I like the Foo Fighters, but Dave Grohl will always be a member of Nirvana to me.
8:44: A reminder. Jay Smooth has everything dead to rights about Chris Brown:
8:36: Thank goodness Kanye’s winning SOMETHING tonight, even if it’s for “Otis” and not a track off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. And I honestly think Kanye’s totally justified, and perhaps wise, not to be here tonight.
8:30: It’s only one barometer of the health of feminism in this country, but we really need to get to a point where abusers like Chris Brown and Charlie Sheen are unemployable in the entertainment industry until they’ve made meaningful amends to the women they hurt, taken public responsibility for their actions, and done work to help women escape abuse. I hate seeing Brown on the Grammy stage. And I hate that I’m going to see Sheen on FX, which is otherwise my favorite network.
8:24: Alicia Keys snarking about the suspense over Adele’s win for “Someone Like Me” just makes me like her more than I did 60 seconds ago.
8:23: I miss Alicia Keys. Can we have another album from her, too? Also, more stripped-down performances in this telecast that emphasize vocal performance rather than badly-wired theatrics?
8:15: I like Bruno Mars just fine, but there’s something awkward about someone who got off a serious cocaine rap consequence-free talking about remembering Whitney Houston.
8:08: “I Will Always Love You” would have been my choice for Whitney performance, too. But notable that they started it mid-song before the lyrics about leaving someone voluntarily.
8:04: Segging from the state of the American economy to Whitney Houston’s death was always going to be kind of awkward, L.L. Cool J.
8:03: I love “We Take Care of Our Own,” but that was a thinner-sounding performance than I would have liked.
8:02: Bruce Springsteen is probably the only man in America in his sixties who can get late-in-life dual ear piercings and not have it be labeled a midlife crisis.
8:01: The Boss wants to know if America is alive out there. This is probably the wrong live crowd to be asking that, but an interesting question for the country in general!
7:59: I’m hearing Nicki Minaj showed up with the Pope? I’d put money on that being the most interesting spectacle of the night, but I guess we’ll just have to see…