Clearly, this is the best album of the year. Clearly.
We’ve got three and a half hours to get through here, so let’s do this.
8:02: The Madonna/Gorillaz experiment somehow ends up with big show-opening spot, and the Gorillaz’ holograms look straight Shrek. De La Soul gets about thirty seconds of live primetime to laugh maniacally. I’m not sure why they’d have Madonna even come out with the holograms when they disappear seconds after she comes out to make room for people krumping. Madonna, it must be said, looks more like a computer-generated image than any of the Gorillaz.
8:09: Stevie Wonder makes goony jokes about how Alicia Keys looks good. But he can’t see! Because he’s blind. Both of them sing “Higher Ground” for a minute, and there’s a great shot of Paul McCartney clapping off-beat.
8:12: Sheryl Crow needs to eat a sandwich. Kelly Clarkson wins the Female Pop Vocal award and bugs the fuck out crying. It’s totally adorable.
8:16: Coldplay does that song with the Kraftwerk sample, and Chris Martin’s voice sounds straight busted. I like them better with a crazy light show. This show could really use a host; it’s been crazy disjointed thus far.
8:25: In a misguided attempt at I don’t even know what, the show’s producers broadcast the beginning of John Legend’s performance in black and white. John Legend reminds me of WWE Monday Night Raw announcer Coach.
8:30: In either a technical fuckup or a bold and experimental move, Sugarland allow “Something More” to be interrupted by ambient walkie-talkie noises.
8:32: Allison Krauss wins the Best Country Album award and treats it like someone on the subway just handed her a penny she’d dropped, on some “oh, um, thanks” shit. Apparently Grammy voters didn’t get the memo about Lee Ann Womack.
8:42: U2 mercifully interrupts “Vertigo” so that Mary J. Blige can quietly walk out from the wings and just fucking burn through “One.” Amazing.
8:47: So far, Merle Haggard and David Bowie have both won Lifetime Achievement awards. I can’t argue with either of those.
8:49: Kanye West wins Best Rap album, but you already knew that. More notably, he’s rocking an unbuttoned dress shirt, a gold medallion, black leather gloves, and Knight Rider sunglasses and flaunting an ostentatious thank-you list.
8:59: One of the nice things about American Idol is that its existence means we get a bunch of pop stars who can sing on live TV without falling apart. Kelly Clarkson just murders “Because of You.” I’m finding myself liking her more and more.
9:02: Why the fuck did I pick Coldplay to win an award when U2 was nominated? That was dumb.
9:09: Introducing Paul McCartney, Ellen Degeneres says, “Our next performer needs no introduction,” before turning around and walking offstage without saying anything else. That’s pretty funny! Too bad about the Paul McCartney part. If they’d had American Idol in 1964, maybe we wouldn’t have to deal with this clown.
9:18: Fergie has some fucked-up crazy painted-on eyebrows.
9:29: I like how Mariah Carey has been on like fifteen award shows and hasn’t sung a single song all the way through; she always goes for the medly. She’s got a huge gospel choir behind her here, and she sounds incredible.
9:32: Teri Hatcher says that she feels like she’s been blessed. Michael Buble says that Teri Hatcher is the sexiest critic he’s ever met. Clearly, Michael Buble has never met me.
9:42: Someone must’ve told Faith Hill that it’s OK to sing a duet with someone other than Tim McGraw. I wish the same person would tell Keith Urban that it’s possible to to perform at an award show without sitting on a stool and strumming a guitar with a wistful look on his face. Oh wait, now he’s standing up.
9:50: The Jay-Z/Linkin Park mash-up wins the awkwardly named Best Rap/Sung Collaboration award, and Mike Shinoda hogs the mic and doesn’t give Jay time to say anything.
9:57: Dave Chappelle: still funny!
9:58: It’s time for this Sly Stone tribute thing. And again, why Joss Stone? Is she really all that famous for real? How is it that she shows up at every single award show?
10:00: Is that Randy Jackson playing bass? It really looks like him.
10:03: I should go back and listen to the original again, but I don’t remember a part in “Dance to the Music” where Will.i.am raps horrendously while dancing like a spaz.
10:05: Well, here’s Sly Stone, and he’s got a hunchback and an enormous blonde mohawk. This is sadder than Axl Rose coming back with a fat neck and dreadlocks.
10:16: Paul McCartney has joined Jay-Z and Linkin Park onstage. Now they’re all singing “Yesterday” in a truly inexplicable cultural moment. I guess it could’ve come off worse, but this award show has entered the Twilight Zone.
10:27: After all the string sections and gospel choirs tonight, Bruce Springsteen’s spare and muted acoustic guitar almost sounds alien. It’s a really intense and charismatic performance, the sort of thing with enough power to transcend its garish-ass surroundings for just a minute or two.
10:30: If Destiny’s Child is going to keep reuniting to hand out awards, they aren’t really broken up.
10:32: U2 wins Song of the Year for a tune that I couldn’t hum if you put a gun to my head. They’re really sweeping this year. At this point, it wouldn’t be all that shocking if they beat Kanye for Album of the Year.
10:40: Kanye and Jamie Foxx are dressed as dueling marching bandleaders. This may be a bad idea.
10:42: Nevermind, it’s awesome.
10:47: Green Day wins Record of the Year; I called that one. You just know that Kanye is pissed.
10:55: Christina Aguilera does not need to be singing a jazz song with Herbie Hancock. This is a bad look.
11:06: John Legend shocks absolutely no one by winning the Best New Artist award. He thanks Man Man? And Devo? John Legend is weird!
11:19: Sheryl Crow is announcing the Album of the Year nominees, and Kanye is praying. I’m actually feeling nervous for him.
11:20: U2 wins. Fuck this. Bono says, “Kanye, you’re next,” which is nice I guess.
11:26: The all-star New Orleans tribute should be schlocky and histrionic, but it’s not. It comes off calm and assured and gorgous; no one hogs the spotlight, and everyone takes visibly obvious joy in playing a couple of great songs (“Yes We Can” and “Midnight Hour”). Who knew something like this could happen at the fucking Grammys?