Live-blogging the 2011 Grammys – award winners, photos, reactions and snide remarks

I didn’t think I’d end up doing this, but I can’t resist. I only take four awards shows seriously (Grammys, Oscars, Emmys, Tonys) and the Grammys are my favorite. I live-blogged my thoughts from the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards – share yours!

5:38pm – I am dumbfounded by people’s reactions to Arcade Fire winning the Best Album category. Hipsters who’ve been saying they’re awesome are now complaining that they’ve become ‘the new U2’ while the other half is objecting that a more mainstream artist didn’t win. In other words, no one’s happy with it.

Look, let me explain something. 99 times out of 100, the Grammy Award is given to the more talented artist, not the more popular one. A lot of people objected when Herbie Hancock won Album Of The Year in 2008 – an album that sold less than 150,000 copies – but you know what? The River was a phenomenal album. Listen to Herbie’s rendition of “When Love Comes To Town” with Joss Stone & Jonny Lang and tell me I’m wrong. Just try.

Same thing here. Lady Gaga’s talented (albeit overrated), and Katy Perry’s popular, and Eminem still sells albums almost like Napster never even existed. But none of them had an album, an ALBUM, that was as well-written and well-rounded as The Suburbs by Arcade Fire. Gaga’s Fame Monster wasn’t as good as her first album, and Eminem hasn’t done anything creatively “wow” since 8 Mile. (And if you try and tell me Katy Perry had the best album of the year, you’re revealing yourself as a narrow-minded person who accepts what’s popular as what’s good. Perry had a couple good songs, like “Firework” and “Teenage Dream,” but two songs don’t make an entire album great.)

Long story short? Get over it. And certainly don’t judge an album you haven’t listened to. If you want to see the most popular artist win, go watch the VMAs or the Billboard Music Awards. If you want to see the most talented win, then you can watch the Grammys. (And for the record, I’m not even an Arcade Fire fan. I just recognize that “Wake Up” is a fantastic song and The Suburbs is phenomenal album.)

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7:00am – I re-read the list of winners and nominees for each category, and I still agree that the only snub was for Cee-Lo Green not winning Record Of The Year. I would’ve liked to see The Band Perry win Best Country Song for “If I Die Young,” but to be nominated when you’re still relatively unknown (they lost to Lady A) is amazing. I was happy to see Carolina Chocolate Drops, John Legend & The Roots, Ray LaMontagne, and The Black Keys win Grammys, they all deserved them. And I 100% agreed with Crazy Heart winning the Grammy for Best Soundtrack – “Glee” does some great music, but none of their performances are Grammy-worthy.

11:35pm – FYI, there are 109 Grammy categories and they only televised eight of them.

11:30pm – Here’s the complete list of Grammy Award Winners & Nominees. My only big complaint is probably for Record Of The Year – Cee-Lo Green deserved that one. I even agree with Herbie Hancock’s “Imagine” winning Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, believe it or not. It’s a little amazing that Justin Bieber didn’t win anything, but he’ll get his chance another year. He’s young, but clearly talented. I also would’ve preferred BT to win Best Electronic Album (La Roux won), but BT’s done better albums in the past and he’ll do even better ones in the future.

11:25pm – And they actually finish the show with 5 minutes left to spare, so Arcade Fire gets an encore performance. I don’t love them, but they do write some great songs. It’s clear why Bruce Springsteen adores the band so much.

11:23pm – And Arcade Fire wins Album Of The Year, proving once again that the performers are always the winners. The closer they perform to the actual award announcement, the more likely they win. FYI, Lady Gaga did NOT deserve to win this category, and you can’t tell me they snubbed her – she won 3 out of 6 awards she was nominated for. She deserved everything she won, no more, no less.

11:12pm – This is actually the best I’ve ever heard Arcade Fire. Better than the album, even. Why are there bike tricks? Oh, because it’s about the suburbs? Meh. Seems like something Everclear would’ve done. I still would’ve preferred to hear “Wake Up.”

11:09pm – @mattfrieds asked me what’s the difference between Record Of The Year and Album Of The Year. Record Of The Year = Best recorded song… Album Of The Year = Best recorded album… and Song Of The Year = Best written song.

11:07pm – The Grammys tease a big moment as Arcade Fire does their first-ever Grammys performance, completely missing out on the fact that most people still don’t know who they are.

11:05pm – Holy hell, Cee-Lo Green didn’t win Record Of The Year. Here, he should’ve won, and Lady A should’ve just gotten Song Of The Year, but no, “Need You Now” gets both. At least “(Forget) You” did win Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

11:00pm – Fire. Rihanna looks HOT as she plays coy in front of a big fire on stage while Drake raps to her.

10:52pm – Eminem wins Best Rap Album, and he seems actually genuinely surprised. This is his 13th Grammy. (He’s been nominated for 36 Grammys in his 11-year career.)

10:51pm – Nicki Minaj and are certainly dressed appropriately for the 2054 Grammys.

10:45pm – Remember when artists didn’t use auto-tune? Barbara Streisand is still a phenomenal singer. I have no idea how old she is, but she at least sounds 50 years younger than Kris Kristofferson.

10:35pm – All of a sudden the curtain drops and Mick Jagger starts singing “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.” Holy hell, where was this energy when the Rolling Stones performed at the Super Bowl five years ago? AWESOME.

10:32pm – Matthew Morrison introduces a tribute to artists who’ve passed away. Interesting (and perhaps appropriate) considering he makes his living doing other people’s songs.

10:29pm – Obligatory “Save the music” “help the kids” speech. It’s true, though. The Recording Academy needs to support the arts and music programs in schools because they’re a great outlet for youth, and stimulate creativity. Plus as funding keeps getting cut, those are the programs that go first.

  10:21pm – Uh-oh. Best New Artist award is sometimes a curse (example: Amy Winehouse won in 2008). Luckily it went to someone we’ve never heard of before: Esperanza Spalding. Justin Bieber, Mumford & Sons, Drake, Florence + The Machine… you’re safe.

10:19pm – Dr. Dre steps on stage for “I Need A Doctor” with Em. Simple, solid performance. I just realized Dr and Em’s relationship is a lot like Usher and Bieber’s.

10:15pm – Eminem jumps on the stage with awesome energy. He shows that you don’t need ridiculous outfits and back-up dancers to be a great performer.

10:13pm – Rihanna does a ballad-y version of “Love The Way You Lie.” What’s with all the ballad-y songs? I’m looking at you, Bruno Mars, B.o.B. and Katy Perry.

10:12pm – Seth Rogen makes a Miley-getting-high joke. Why do people think he’s funny?

10:10pm – @MBuchwalter says Cee-Lo should’ve won Song Of The Year. I disagree. Song Of The Year is for songwriting – “(Forget) You” is a GREAT song, but not as great writing as “Need You Now” was.

10:06pm – Ooh! Fake tear! She poked herself in the eye to get those waterworks…

10:05pm – Song Of The Year goes to “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. You can hate on pop or country (let’s be fair, it’s a pop song by a country band) all you want, but that song is a fantastic song and completely deserved to win.

10:03pm – Norah Jones did a much better version of “Jolene” with Elvis Costello on ‘Spectacle’ two years ago. John Mayer and Keith Urban can’t compete with her vocally, and the two of them combined are not even half as amazing as Elvis Costello.

10:01pm – And Katy Perry’s strong vocals suddenly fall flat as she tries to do “Teenage Dream” after blowing out her lungs to “Not Like The Movies,” a half-decent song but not as good or as well-known as her other tracks. She also didn’t capitalize on the chance to do a medley and really wow the show. (And the whole singing-on-a-swing thing has been done to death.)

10:00pm – @allsongs: “I think Katy Perry in diapers on a swing is where i turn off the Grammys. I’ve never made it this far before.”

9:57pm – Neil Patrick Harris says “Yo, yo, yo” and then makes a poorly delivered sex joke that’s only funny to people who watch “How I Met Your Mother.” And then introduces Katy Perry.

  9:51pm – The obnoxious bleeping of “(Forget) You” still couldn’t ruin what is easily the best performance of the night. Thank you, Cee-Lo, and mad props to Gwenyth for kicking up (and kicking it on top of his piano with a foxy look)!

  9:48pm – (jaw drop) Cee-Lo Green just one-upped every single Lady Gaga outfit and performance ever – combined – in one fell swoop. He’s dressed as a giant metal peacock with muppet-knockoffs (a low-budge Dr. Teeth & Electric Mayhem) backing him up. And then Gwenyth Paltrow reprises her “Glee” performance to duet with Cee-Lo.

9:45pm – And then Lady Antebellum wins Best Country Album for an album that had one awesome song and maybe two other songs that weren’t horrible. It’s an exact science, folks. Every performer at the Grammys wins an award. It’s almost a quid-pro-quo deal. PREDICTION: Look for Bieber to get his award later.

9:42pm – Their tribute ended awfully quick and they jump into their own song “American Honey” and then “Need You Now.” A 70-second tribute to a legend followed by a 7-minute tribute to selling more Lady A albums.

9:40pm – Lady Antebellum is doing a tribute to r&b/blues legend Teddy Pendergrass, who died in 2010. My mind is blown.

9:37pm – @ralphieaversa: “I think so far, so good. Handing out awards is boring, a music awards show SHOULD be about the music.” Can’t disagree with that, this is an entertaining show to watch and a perfect platform for music performances. (We have only seen four awards in 97 minutes, though.)

9:33pm – Mumford & Sons get a 9, Avett Brothers a 5, and Bob “Chillin’ Like a Villain” Dylan a 7. I wish Bob had a better voice, because he’s such a great songwriter. Avett Brothers were okay, but they’ve got better songs and didn’t perform at the top of their game – the head bobbing was getting a little annoying, too. Mumford & Sons were solid, I see a lot of awesome music coming from them over the years.

9:30pm – Bob seems annoyed that one of the Sons left their upright bass on the floor and he has to step over it. And then he brings his scratchy I’m-a-future-lung-transplant-candidate voice to the mike. And sings “Maggie’s Farm” with both groups backing him up.

9:27pm – This is the performance we (by we, I mean all the people with good taste) were all waiting for: Mumford & Sons, Bob Dylan and The Avett Brothers. I *love* new folk music, and it’s extremely fitting to pay tribute to the man who flipped folk music on its head when he first went electric more than 30 years ago.

9:25pm – Letterman gives a Top 10 Surprises at the Grammys List: “In a touching ceremony, added a comma.” HA! That one actually made me laugh. (The rest was typical lame Letterman fodder.)

9:23pm – Gaga thanks Whitney Houston and they give her the wrap-up music, annoying thousands of “little monsters” everywhere.

9:22pm – Gaga’s speaking voice annoys me. Pick an accent and stick with it.

9:21pm – Susan Boyle, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, John Mayer, Katy Perry all up for the same award? Donnie Wahlberg’s right, the nominees certainly do have “range.” And Gaga wins because – you can always expect performing artists to win – the Grammys are a little predictable at times.

9:14pm – Well, the Grammys are certainly holding true to their promise to stop giving awards to older artists and “embrace the new era” of music. Muse wins the Best Rock Album award for a decent (but not amazing by any means) album, in the face of Pearl Jam, Jeff Beck and Tom Petty? Hopefully, the Grammys doesn’t abandon awarding talent too much for “staying current.” (By the way, you can successfully predict who’ll win awards if you know who’s performing – typically, they bribe artists to perform for free by letting them know that they’re “very likely” to win in the categories they’re nominated for.)

9:12pm – Bieber comes back on in his third outfit in less than five minutes and does some sweet, Usher-like dancing! I’m impressed. Justin Bieber is truly talented, even if his fans are mostly (and sometimes obnoxious) 13-year-olds.

  9:10pm – Bieber’s doing a medley performance of awesome measure that reminds me of NSync in 2000. “Never Say Never,” “Baby,” and even the song from the Karate Kid soundtrack with Jaden Smith! And then, Usher takes the stage for “OMG.” This time, however, he is NOT lowered onto the stage by a huge chain.

  9:08pm – JUSTIN BIEBER HAS NINJAS FOR BACK-UP DANCERS? This kid is my hero.

9:07pm – I love Usher’s sincerity. I don’t believe most “got discovered in a parking lot” stories, but I’ll believe it when Usher says so.

9:06pm – Usher’s a genius, because he recognized some 13-year old kid in 2007 would be the hottest thing.

9:05pm – Justin Bieber gets introduced by the only celebrity that’s shorter than he is: Eva Longoria.

9:00pm – The Grammys have been on for an hour and they’ve only given out two awards. Just sayin’.

8:59pm – And best female country vocal goes to Miranda Lambert. Her album was OK, but she deserves it only because no other female country singer put out anything of sustainable quality this year.

8:55pm – AND BAM! Into Janelle Monae’s “Cold War,” my favorite of her tracks. I even picked it as one of my top 40 favorite songs of 2010! And B.o.B. is playing the guitar! And she just stage-dived! YES. Monae proves you can still be a great performer with funky outfits without being obnoxious like Lady Gaga.

8:53pm – OHHHHHhhhhh. It’s on purpose. It’s supposed to look like a groovy throwback to 50’s and 60’s soul. Which is actually kind of nice, since Bruno Mars plays that role really well (although his past is more checkered than the displays behind him…)

8:52pm – Hey. My TV’s broken. It just went black-and-white and blurry.

8:50pm – Janelle Monae looks BEAUTIFUL. Stunning. And I’m impressed, B.o.B. and Bruno Mars sound really good and are giving a really nice, classy stringed-out touch to their song “Nothin’ On You.”

8:49pm – YES. I love Janelle Monae. Hopefully the rest of the world learns to love her as she gets sandwiched between Bruno Mars and B.o.B.

8:42pm – Third boring performance of the night (let’s be honest, Gaga and Lambert were very underwhelming) comes from a very predictable “Uprising” from Muse.

8:39pm – Lenny Kravitz is still sexy, but he sounds more British than I remember him being.

8:38pm – Followed by another corny PDA shot for Blake, who’s the only one giving a standing ovation.

8:35pm – Followed by a very boring performance by Miranda Lambert.

8:33pm – Overly corny PDA between Miranda Lambert and fiance Blake Shelton.

8:27pm – Lady Gaga’s got fake pointy shoulders and a pancake hat. The shoulders are to, obviously, create a double-meaning to the song “Born This Way.” She wasn’t born gay, straight, or bisexual. She was hatched from a pod, born with weirdo shoulders and a song that can only be described as a Madonna ripoff. We all know it’s “Express Yourself,” Madonna just won’t sue for it or else she’d lose too many fans. Because, you know, Madonna fans can just go listen to Gaga and not miss anything.

8:26pm – Lady Gaga hatched.

8:25pm – I’m BLIND. Ricky Martin’s pants have ruined my eyesight. Maybe it’ll make Gaga’s performance tolerable.

8:20pm – Did Train just thank Howard Stern? For what? It’s not like he plays “Hey Soul Sister” on his station.

8:19pm – Train wins the first award of the night. I’m not sure they deserved it, but they certainly deserved it more than the Glee Cast (overproduced, overhyped TV fizz) and Maroon 5 (they have a great sound, but their latest album really sucks). Pat Monayhan needs to pick a different haircut. Or at least a new face.

8:18pm – Wait. Sade is a pop duo or a group? (Someone explained to me that Sade is actually the name of her group. HER name is Helen Fosade something, so I assumed it was a nickname of hers, but I guess the band name is derivative of her name – like Bon Jovi.)

8:08pm – Ouch. FOUR divas trying to blow out the last note of an Aretha tribute? Thank you, Florence Welch, for being the only one not overdoing it.

8:04pm – Good news! Christina Aguilera remembered all the words to “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

8:03pm – I LOVE Florence Welch, but she is not an attractive lady. She is, however, a handsome woman. Hope more people check out her band, Florence Welch + The Machine.

8:01pm – Time for the Grammys, let’s kick it off with a tribute to ARETHA! Woo!

7:45pm – Everyone’s talking about the fact that Lady Gaga’s in an egg. Ugh. “The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards festivities honor excellence in the recording industry.” Gaga’s headline whoring antics are neither excellent or honorable. Let’s stop giving her credit, people.

The 53rd Annual Grammy Winners:
Album of the Year: Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
Record of the Year: Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Song of the Year: Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Best New Artist: Esperanza Spalding
Best Rap Album: Eminem, Recovery
Best Pop Vocal Album: Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster
Best Alternative Music Album: The Black Keys, Brothers
Best Rock Album: Muse, The Resistance
Best Rap Song: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”
Best Pop Performance by Duo or Group: Train, “Hey, Soul Sister (Live)”
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: Bruno Mars, “Just the Way You Are”
Best Dance Recording: Rihanna, “Only Girl (In the World)”
Best Electronic Dance Album: La Roux, La Roux
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group: Black Keys, “Tighten Up”
Best Hard Rock Performance: Them Crooked Vultures, “New Fang”
Best Metal Performance: Iron Maiden, “El Dorado”
Best Rock Song: Neil Young, “Angry World”
Best Rap Solo Performance: Eminem, “Not Afraid”
Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group: Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz, “On to the Next One”
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”
Best R&B Song: John Legend and the Roots, “Shine”
Best Urban/Alternative Performance: Cee Lo, “F*** You”
Best R&B Album: John Legend and the Roots, Wake Up
Best Contemporary R&B Album: Usher, Raymond v Raymond
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Danger Mouse
See the complete list of Nominees and Winners here.