It’s brunch at the Grammys! Live updates from the pre-telecast.
4:10 p.m.: Final update from the pre-show: The 70th award this afternoon went to the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach for producer of the year. “Wow,” said Auerbach, who moments ago was on stage when the Black Keys’ “El Camino” took the rock album Grammy. In addition to “El Camino,” Auerbach’s production credits included the Grammy-winning Dr. John album “Locked Down.”
“Thank you so much for Nonesuch for supporting these kind of projects that I love doing,” said Auerbach. If there is any major Grammy story line emerging, it’s that album of the year is shaping up to be a showdown between rock act the Black Keys and adventurous R&B; artist Frank Ocean. Among the categories the latter is up for are best new artist and urban contemporary album, awards that will be given out on the show.
Stay tuned to Pop & Hiss all nights for updates from the show. At 5 p.m., we’ll be live-blogging the show.
4:03 p.m.: Gotye’s “Making Mirrors” won the Grammy for alternative album. “Thank you to everyone making non-alternative albums so this category can exist,” said Gotye (real name: Wouter De Backer). He said he didn’t feel comfortable accepting the award, acknowledging that most fans still know him just for one song. He made sure to single out anyone who has listened to the “whole album.”
Gotye didn’t have to move far, as he then won the Grammy for pop duo/group performance for his “Somebody That I Used to Know” featuring Kimbra. Aside from keeping LMFAO off the Grammy stage, who were up for “Sexy and I Know It,” the win is especially noteworthy because it bests Fun.’s “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monae. Fun. is up for album of the year and “We Are Young” is also up for record of the year. The latter, right now, would appear to be a race primarily between the Black Keys and Gotye, unless Frank Ocean sweeps on the telecast.
3:54 p.m.: Album-of-the-year watch: “Lonely Boy” from the Black Keys won the Grammy for rock song, besting songs from fellow album of the year nominees Jack White and Mumford & Sons. Seconds later, the band won rock album for “El Camino.” “My brother, my mom and dad are in the audience,” Keys member Dan Auerbach said. “I wouldn’t be here without them. Thank you everyone in Music City for welcoming us. Nashville, Tenn., is a beautiful place.”
3:52 p.m.: Grammy rule No. 762: Do not bet against a Beatle. Paul McCartney’s “Kisses on the Bottom” won traditional pop vocal album. Then it was time for some Grammy whiplash, as Halestorm’s “Love Bites (So Do I)” took the Grammy for hard rock/metal performance. “Most parents want their kids to be doctors and lawyers. Our parents encouraged us to join the circus,” said Josh Smith.
3:46 p.m.: Little Big Town’s “Pontoon,” a goofy little ditty about partying in a boat, won the Grammy for country duo/group performance. “This is such a long time coming for us. We’re so thrilled,” said the band’s Phillip Sweet. Moments later, Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” took the Grammy for country song. Songwriters Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins were on hand to accept the prize.
3:42 p.m.: The late Ravi Shankar won the world music Grammy for his “Traveller.” The prize wasaccepted by his daughter Anoushka, who was also nominated. “It’s two months tomorrow since he passed away. I’m just really proud that he was making records right to the end. … If he were here, he would thank my mom,” she said.
3:36 p.m. Al Walser’s Grammy dreams end now. He lost the dance recording prize to Skrillex’s “Bangarang” featuring Sirah. Of note was the dead silence in the room when Walser’s name was read. “It’s crazy to be here again,” Skrillex said. “I was on tour and I had this beat and the energy was really raw. The whole premise of it was just like ‘Peter Pan,’ never growing up.” Sirhah then took the mic: “Guys, this is a Grammy,” she said, as she mentioned she used to live in a downtown loft with holes in her ceiling.
Skrillex then immediately won the dance/electronica album prize for “Bangarang.” He brought up everyone on stage who worked with him, but as Skrillex swept the dance awards, one would be right to risk if Grammy voters know more about electronic music than Skrillex? The former best new artist nominee has a lot of rock ‘n’ roll fans, and he bested a host of other name-EDM artists, including Deadmau5, the Chemical Brothers and Kaskade.
3:30 p.m.: Local artist Miguel took R&B; song for his “Adorn.” The cut is also up for song of the year, and Miguel, with Ocean, represents a new wave of less-flashy R&B.; Miguel will have major hits to compete against later, though, including “Call Me Maybe.” He’ll be performing, so he wasn’t at the pre-show.
Here, perhaps, is a surprise: The jazz-based “Black Radio” from the Robert Glasper Experiment took the R&B; album prize. “Thank you for allowing us to play real music,” Glasper said. He bested albums from R. Kelly, Anthony Hamilton and Tyrese.
3:27 p.m.: There’s no rap artist recognized in the album of the year field, but Drake’s “Take Care” took the rap album prize. Many thought Drake had a shot for an album of the year nod, but momentum for the album seemed to wane. But Kanye West and Jay-Z had a good night for “… in Paris,” which took two awards including rap performance.
Still, my personal highlight of the pre-tel thus far is: The crowd couldn’t help but chuckle at the songwriter-by-committee track of “Young, Wild & Free,” as more than a dozen names were listed.
3:12 p.m.: Dr. John’s “Locked Down” won for blues album. He’ll be performing tonight with the Black Keys. “Locked Down,” full of wildly psychedelic keyboards, was produced by the Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who said, “I want to thank Nonesuch for their support, for footing the bill.”
3:12 p.m.: “I was not expecting this,” shouted Bonnie Raitt when accepting the award for American album. “I have enough! Thank you, though.” She was competing against some heavy hitters, namely album-of-the-year nominees Mumford & Sons and best new artist contenders the Lumineers. This would seem to spell trouble for the Mumford & Sons being able to pull off an album-of-the-year upset over Frank Ocean.
Raitt, meanwhile, took the moment to recognize her fellow “Americana” artists, and took a little issue with the genre title. “They try to put us in a box,” she said. “We will not be put in a box. This is just good music.”
3:11 p.m.: The Grammys goes to the movies …. and plays video games.
“Yay,” said Taylor Swift as she accepted the Grammy for “Safe & Sound,” which won for song written for visual media. “Safe & Sound” was featured in “The Hunger Games” but was not nominated for an Oscar.
“This is unbelievable,” Swift said. “I just want to thank my collaborators for working with me — the Civil Wars and T Bone Burnett. You guys were awesome. We just won a Grammy.” John Paul White of the Civil Wars, who may be broken up at the moment, joked of working with Swift, “We’ve been carrying her for a while and it’s getting a little tiring.”
Meanwhile, Composers Trent Reznor and Attitcus Ross won the Grammy for score/soundtrack album for their work on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” That award bested the first ever video game soundtrack to be nominated, “Journey.”
The awards were presented by electronic star Kaskade, who gave a shout-out to all his EDM friends. “It really wasn’t that long ago that nobody knew who we were,” he said.
2:57 p.m.: When it comes to live music, the Grammy pre-tel doesn’t mess around. Young folk singer John Fullbright is a prime example. His “Gawd Above” was gravelly, harmonica-laden folksy blues rocker. “When it all goes wrong, I’m the man to trust,” sang Fullbright through gritted teeth, making it very clear that he is not the man to trust, as he put himself in the role of a malevolent overseer.
2:50 p.m.: And the transition into the major pop categories has begun. Major winners will soon come fast and furious, and as most stars are currently out on the red carpet, there will be few, if any, acceptance speeches.
First, though, we have some jazz. Chick Corea took the improvised jazz solo prize for his “Hot House.” “We all have the same intention, which is to bring pleasure and beauty around the world,” Corea said of his musicians during his acceptance speech.
Moments later, Esperanza Spalding received her second Grammy of the night for “Radio Music Society.” Spalding is already a Grammy favorite, having won the best new artist prize. “Thank you paying attention and being present and for all your beautiful art,” Spalding said from the podium.
The Grammy for jazz instrumental album went to Pat Metheny’s Unity Band for the album “Unity Band.” He thanked his wife, “back at the hotel, with the sitter.” And then left everyone to ponder why they don’t trust the sitter.
2:41 p.m.: Michelle Obama will have to wait for her Grammy. Songwriter/author Janis Ian won the spoken-word Grammy for her “Society’s Child: My Autobiography.” In addition to Obama, she was competing against former President Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Rachel Maddow. “To say this is a stunning upset would be an understatement,” Ian said, and then tried to turn the category into a joke. “An ex-president, a first lady and three lesbians walk into a bar...” Before she left the stage she did get serious. “I have watched my business become an industry, and one thing will never change,” she said. “We do not sell music, we sell dreams.”
2:37 p.m.: We’re back! The Grammy pre-show dipped into classical and jazz, and we at Pop & Hiss prefer to leave the “smart” music to our high-society friends at Culture Monster. Perhaps they will post an update after they finish their amuse-bouche. But back to music we Pop & Hiss writers can understand ….
The reggae album Grammy went to Jimmy Cliff’s “Rebirth.” It was produced by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and provided a nice update of Cliff’s sound. Armstrong even took Cliff into more soulful territories, even while Cliff never strayed from the social-consciousness that has been a constant throughout his career. Sadly, Cliff wasn’t on hand to accept the award, and the pre-tel went straight into children’s music.
2:19 p.m.: The Grammy pre-show got a little experimental with a performance from Chicago sextet Eighth Blackbird. Nominated in the chamber music/small ensemble performance field, this was a performance that could appeal even to rock fans. Violins were panicked and pianos ran frantic loops around the rhythms. This may have been a chamber performance, but it also could have been on a Radiohead album. Any chance Taylor Swift will be this exciting later?
2:16 p.m.: Latin star Juanes won the Latin pop album award for his “MTV Unplugged Deluxe Edition.” Juanes’ acceptance speech was simple and hit all the usual suspects (his label, his team, etc.), and added, “to all the musicians who work with me, to all my fans.”
Things got more lively when local outfit Quetzal won the Latin rock, urban or alternative album Grammy for “Imaginaries.” Singer Martha Gonzalez, upon accepting the award, said, “I used to think it was kind of trivial, but now it feels really meaningful.”
That hits on something this writer has been thinking a lot about lately. When I was in high school and obsessing over music, the Grammys weren’t on my radar. The bands I followed who did appear on the Grammys were usually indifferent to them (ahem, Pearl Jam). There seems, however, to be a change of thinking of late. Perhaps it was Kanye West ranting for years that he deserved a Grammy, or perhaps a general shift in the artists the Grammys are recognizing (as in the rise of R&B; and hip-hop and the general push for industry acceptance for the genres). Then this year, Justin Bieber seemed genuinely disappointed to not receive a Grammy nomination, and it couldn’t help but make me think of how times have changed in just 10 or 15 years. Are, dare I say it, the Grammys cool?
1:55 p.m.: If you’ve been following along to this live-blog here, you have no doubt noticed by now that we’re nearly an hour in and there was not been a medley. What, no medley? Is this not a Grammy event? Breathe easy, folks, the Grammys will never keep you waiting too long without a medley, and Tyrese and Ellie Varner were here to save the day. Varner started with a bit of her “Refill,” which is nominated for R&B; song, but before she could get comfortable, Tyrese came in with the overpowering ballad “Stay.” Things soon got out of hand, with a full orchestra joining in for a bit of “Let’s Get It On.”
1:48 p.m.: The Grammy drought for the Beach Boys is over. The historical album trophy goes to the Beach Boys for “The Smile Sessions,” a 2011 set commemorating the long-lost album begun by the Beach Boys and Van Dyke Parks in the mid-’60s and eventually released as “Brian Wilson Presents Smile” in 2004.
Wilson was there to accept the prize, and he kept it curt. “Van Dyke Parks and I knew we were very ahead of our time in 1965. In 2004 we released it. Good.” And away we go. This is the Beach Boys’ first-ever Grammy win. The band did receive a lifetime achievement award in 2001 and Wilson won a rock instrumental perforance Grammy in 2004 for his “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow.”
1:29 p.m.: Walser alert! The electronic nobody who crashed the dance recording category (read The Times’ story here) isn’t going to go down without snaring a few more headlines. He showed up on the Grammy red carpet dressed as an astronaut. Here’s a photo from The Times’ Jessica Gelt so you can get this over with.
1:24 p.m.: “City of Roses” from Esperanza Spalding’s “Radio Music Society” won the instrumental arrangement accompanying vocalists Grammy. The prize went to Spalding and her co-arranger Thara Memory. “Some of you may not know Dr. Thara Memory, but he’s been my teacher since I was 8,” Spalding said. “We had this concept to make this arrangement and have it played by students, his students. These are 16-, 17-year-old students playing this arrangement.” Added Memory: “It’s kind of a surprise to me. The fact that we did use students with this arrangement, I cheated and I love it.”
1:20 p.m.: For the jazz fans following along — it’s brunch time, after all, and that’s when jazz is best, right? — Chick Corea won instrumental composition for “Mozart Goes Dancing.”
1:14 p.m.: Album-of-the-year watch: The Mumford & Sons’ “Big Easy Express” won for long-form music video, but don’t necessarily think that means the folksy boys are going to win the top prize. It’s a concert video featuring a host of other acts Mumford & Sons brought on tour to a smattering of unique locales via train. Since the Mumford & Sons are known as a road band, this seemed like the surefire choice to win here.
1:09 p.m.: Rihanna wins the first Grammy of the day. Her “We Found Love” featuring Calvin Harris takes the prize for short-form music video. She was not at the pre-show to accept the trophy, nor was the video’s director, Juliette Larthe. So there is no gossip to report. Let us take a moment to realize how rare what just happened is. Rihanna’s name was mentioned, and there was no gossip involved.
1:02 p.m.: It’s going to be awhile before any of the major categories are announced. There are 81 categories in total, and 70 will be unveiled by 3:30 p.m., so updates will come fast and quick. We’ll try to keep up as best we can, pointing out notable winners and any pertinent trends that are taking shape. The first few categories to be awarded are in the music-video field. Rap and pop categories will come closer to the end of the pre-telecast.
12:55 p.m.: Late Friday night, amid one of the many pre-Grammy parties, album-of-the-year nominee Frank Ocean took the stage at a former car dealership-turned-art gallery. At the start of his set, the soft-spoken, introspective R&B; artist admitted that he was overwhelmed by the Grammys.
In some ways he’s the biggest story of the year — he stands at the heart of a new R&B; movement that emphasizes introspection and sexual tolerance over booty shaking — but he’s also an unlikely album-of-the-year candidate.
Wearing a varsity jacket and his trademark headband, Ocean kept his face buried deep into the microphone. Though this Friday night event was all Grammy flash — complete with faux art exhibits set up by sponsor Levi’s — Ocean strolled the stage seemingly wanting to disappear into his band as he dipped into achingly complex, heavily textured lengthy numbers such as “Pyramids.”
The rise of Ocean, and whether or not this new face of R&B; can win album of the year over better-known and better-selling artists such as Jack White, Mumford & Sons, Fun. and the Black Keys will be the main story line of the day.
With six nominations, there should be a sense early in the day if the Grammys are going to go Ocean’s way. Pop & Hiss will be with you all afternoon as the Grammy pre-show gets underway at L.A. Live’s Nokia Theater. Refresh this post for updates, and we’ll try to keep the typos to a minimum.
Some background on the afternoon ceremony: The gala will be hosted by actor-singer-comedian David Alan Grier, who is up for a Grammy in the musical theater category for “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” Current nominees Radmilla Cody, Janis Ian, Kaskade, Britt Nicole and Manuel Valera will be also among presenters who will dole out awards in 70 categories.
The ceremony will feature performances from current nominees Krishna Das, Eighth Blackbird, John Fullbright, Hugh Masekela, Tyrese and Elle Varner.