7:00 Back here to live blog the Grammys again another year. I'll be providing running analysis on who might win and the overall spectacle of the show.
7:02 AC/DC are kicking off the show. LL Cool J makes it a point to tell everyone that this is their first performance at the ceremony. I'm totally happy for them and all, especially with Malcolm Young having to leave the band, but it doesn't scream current. My only guess is that the NARAS noticed there was an alarming lack of guitars on the show, so they had to dig into the vault to balance things out.
7:08 LL Cool J is back onstage the show officially begins. He just announced that there were will be 23 performances tonight. 23. Oof.
7:11 Sam Smith takes home Best New Artist in a win that shocks absolutely no one. I'm still recovering from the shell shock that we're going to have to sit through 23 performances. It appears as if the awards have truly become secondary, which is a shame. You look at the Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and even the Golden Globes, there is buzz and importance surrounding who will win. For the Grammys, it's as if Album of the Year is the only thing anyone is waiting for. The collaborative performances have always felt desperate and forced. It's great that veterans can still get a rub from being on a nationally televised appearance because I think it's important that younger viewers know about previous generations, but it's done in a way that's very insincere and not entertaining in the least. I love music, so naturally I look forward to the Grammys, but it's frustrating when you know it could be so much more.
7:24 Ariana Grande performs "Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart" and does a solid job, because well, she's Ariana. I would have preferred to see her do a more uptempo song, but I like that she went opposite of what her singles have been. If she still feels like she has something to prove, I think everyone is much better off for it. Jessie J and Tom Jones also perform "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" in honor of its songwriters, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Neither were bad choices to perform, seeing as how Jones' baritone is not a half-bad match for what Bill Medley did on the original, but it's incredibly stiff. I dislike it whenever they have performances on that small stage in the middle of the audience that isn't minimal. It feels too overstuffed for such an intimate and the entire sequence felt like it could have been on telethon instead of the biggest night in music. Pharrell beats out Sam Smith and Sia for Best Pop Solo Vocal Performance with a live version of "Happy." This is the first sign of vulnerability for Smith I've seen tonight and I like Beyonce's chances for AOTY better now. We'll have to see how Record and Song of the Year pan out.
7:40 I feel like we see Miranda Lambert at the Grammys every year. I'm not complaining one bit, but that's quite alarming if I have vested interest in country music continuing to make a mark on the mainstream. Sam Smith takes home another award for Best Pop Vocal Album and he's back on track.
7:51 Kanye's performance of "Only One" was definitely emotional, but performance-wise, something off was about it. The song is minimal in nature and I felt that West moving around too much detracted from what could have been a truly moving performance. I understand that you want the crowd to get into it, but serve the song. Madonna gives a typically splashy show. Her new song "Living For Love" isn't half-bad. Beck also takes home an award for Best Rock Album, which means I'm totally eating it on my Grammy predictions. But I'm okay with who's been winning in the genre fields so far. Most notably Paramore's "Ain't It Fun" for Best Rock Song. Six out of nineteen guesses right.<!--more>
8:04 Incredibly short times given for acceptance speeches. Even Beyonce keeps it short for her Best R&B Performance win.
8:12 Ed Sheeran performances always make me feel sleepy. As a recording artist, I've enjoyed some of his songs though. John Mayer, Herbie Hancock and ?uestlove back him up on "Thinking Out Loud," but only Mayer really makes his presence known with a nice solo. Sheeran then joins Jeff Lynne of ELO for "Mr. Blue Sky." Besides them both being British, I'm failing to see any musical lineage. They're both two different artists and I have no reason to be excited about the either of them performing together seeing as how I can't spot one lick of ELO DNA in Sheeran's music.
8:21 Nearly an hour and a half into the show and we have yet to get a standout performance. Even Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine can't liven things up. I have a strong feeling that Hozier and Annie Lennox will provide some life seeing as how it will be the first collaboration to actually make sense. Lennox can bring the torch and the soul, so on paper, it should work.
8:32 Hozier's "Take Me To Church" doesn't provide the fire I was hoping for with Annie Lennox, but it's not until she takes over with "I Put A Spell On You" that we get the first rousing performance of the night. Lennox is a pro at this and everyone is on their feet by the time it's over.
8:40 Miranda Lambert gets an expected win for Best Country Album, which I'm all for since I was a fan of the album. Of course "Happy" makes its way on to the telecast with a dark mood to start. Pharrell talks instead of sings and for the first time tonight, my interest has been piqued. It's not a straightforward approach to the song we've seen performed on television dozens of time, but it works for me. "Happy" is a big song and has plenty of room to be as bombastic and overstuffed as the performance we just saw. I smiled.
8:48 We get another striking performance with Katy Perry's "By The Grace Of God." It's preceded by a pre-recorded message by President Obama denouncing domestic violence and rape and a survivor detailing her story live at Staples Center. There's a certain exploitative factor here with using that woman's story and not incorporating a stronger narrative into the actual performance, but it's the most human Perry has appeared at an awards ceremony (I'm even counting that time she had footage of her wedding playing in the background as she sang "The One That Got Away"). It held my attention, but it could have been handled better.
9:09 Feels like forever since we've seen an award handed out. Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett took to the small stage for a rendition of "Cheek To Cheek" which comes off charming and downplays the glitz. We all know what Tony can do and it's a nice showcase for Gaga's diversity for those that weren't in the know. My favorite performance of the night so far was Usher performing Stevie Wonder's "If It's Magic" with a harpist. No need for any extra fireworkds: just Usher's soulful voice and a great song written by Stevie, who shows up by the end of the song for a harmonica solo.
9:27 We got a decent performance from Eric Church doing "Give Me Back My Hometown." Nothing to really change anyone's minds on him. Brandy Clark does "Hold My Hand" with Dwight Yoakam and it's probably the first collaboration of the night that comes off as logical. The real treat comes when Kanye, Rihanna and Paul McCartney do their latest single, "FourFiveSeconds." It's a catchy song that easily engages the audience and they give it just the right amount of energy for a track so simple.
9:33 Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige bring it as they should. Their voices sound incredibly pure. As enjoyable as that performance was, I want some hardware to be handed out now.
9:44We finally get another award handed out. Prince presents Album of the Year and to everyone's surprise it goes to Beck. The frontrunners for this entire run have been Sam Smith and Beyonce, so this is very unexpected. Taking into account how AOTY voting has gone in recent years, more people probably should have seen a win for Morning Phase. I do applaud the NARAS for at least trying to provide some attempt at credibility, but both popularity and credibility can exist in the same space. Hopefully the NARAS will realize this before it's too late.
9:57 Kristen Wiig and Maddie Ziegler contribute to Sia's "Chandelier" with a dance number that's very reminiscent of the video. Although Wiig isn't what one would exactly call a seasoned dancer, she knows how to emote well and conveys the song better than her movements suggest. It's a bit of odd pacing at this point in the show. I still liked it though. Sam Smith takes home Song of the Year. He may still be on course for Record of the Year.
10:11 Beck and Chris Martin perform "Blue Moon" and it is as subdued as suspected. It won't blow anyone's socks off who were expecting a Beyonce AOTY win. It really should have been on the smaller stage. Sam Smith walks away with Record of the Year, which appears to be the last award of the night. Very anti-climatic.