Pop music’s elite convened at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday for the 55th annual Grammy Awards, hosted by actor and rapper LL Cool J and featuring performances by Justin Timberlake, Jack White, Carrie Underwood, Sting, Rihanna, Elton John and Taylor Swift.
The Grammys are determined by about 13,000 voting members. The eligibility period for nominated recordings was Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012. The 2013 awards are being held at Staples Center and telecast on CBS-TV.
As usual, though, the performances were more memorable than the awards.
Justin Timberlake does not mess around. So when time came to make his return to the Grammy stage, JT made sure to fill it with his own 15-plus person big band and a full orchestra for runs through “Suit & Tie” and another new track from his upcoming third solo album, “Pusher Love Girl,” writes MTV News.
“Best Grammys ever? Best Grammys ever,” said Justin Timberlake in an unscripted moment, answering his own question. Only time will tell if his assessment is right, but Music’s Biggest Night certainly lived up to its name.
Taylor Swift appeared in white top hat, tails and hot pants to kick off the proceedings with a rendition of her hit single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” dancing alongside acrobats, clowns, men on stilts and a stand-in for her ex-boyfriend pinned to a spinning target, says the Huff Post.
As far as awards go, it was a big night for Fun., who scooped up Best New Artist as well as Song of the Year for “We Are Young,” not to mention Mumford & Sons, who snagged Album of the Year for Babel and Gotye, who snagged Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Somebody That I Used to Know” and Best Alternative Music Album for Making Mirrors.
The Black Keys won Best Rock Album for El Camino and Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance for “Lonely Boy.” They also performed the song, adding a New Orleans twist with piano from Dr. John in a full feathered headdress and a punchy burst of brass from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Black Keys singer Dan Auerbach also won Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) for his work on Dr. John’s Locked Down and other albums.
Frank Ocean’s critically adored “channel ORANGE” won best urban contemporary album, beating out Chris Brown’s “Fortune.” Ocean and Brown were reportedly involved in a fight over a parking spot in West Hollywood last month.
Ocean, who also won Best Contemporary R&B Album for Channel Orange, later performed his song “Forrest Gump” against a backdrop that pictured a lonesome desert road extending toward a horizon dotted with clouds.
Ocean also joined Jay-Z and The-Dream onstage to accept the award for best rap/sung performance for “No Church in the Wild,” from “Watch the Throne,” though Jay-Z got off the best line when he thanked “the swap meet” for The-Dream’s hat.
The program’s In Memoriam segment included nods to Bob Marley, Dave Brubeck and Levon Helm, and gestures such as Colombian pop-rocker Juanes acknowledging his debt to Elton John by singing an acoustic, and bilingual, version of “My Song,” and Kelly Clarkson paying tribute to Lifetime Achievement Award honorees Patti Page and Carole King.
Paul McCartney won best traditional pop vocal album; Miguel won best R&B song; Drake won best rap album; and Esperanza Spalding, famous for beating pop sensation Justin Bieber in the best new artist category in 2011, won best jazz vocal album.
Kelly Clarkson, who won Best Pop Vocal Album for Stronger, paid tribute to Lifetime Achievement winners Patty Page and Carole King, singing a soulful medley of “Tennessee Waltz” and “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman.”
In the end, it was another spectacular night of Grammy moments and high-profile recognition of music’s deep impact on our culture.