Follow along here Sunday night for all the thrills, chills and spills of the Grammy Awards. The telecast starts at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, but I should be snarking and blogging on the pre-broadcast portion before then -- at which point we should know whether or not a good chunk of my predictions came to pass. Y'all come.
6:45 p.m. -- We're still more than an hour from the telecast portion, and the news isn't good for most of our North Carolina nominees. But it's very good for Brevard's Steep Canyon Rangers, who take home bluegrass album.
Alas, the Triangle's Carolina Chocolate Drops didn't win folk album. I feared they might lose out to the classical-folk supergroup of Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, and that is indeed what happened. Yo-Yo Ma, et al's "The Goat Rodeo Sessions" also won best-engineered non-classical album, beating out Jacksonville native Ryan Adams' "Ashes & Fire.
Also falling short are Concord's Avett Brothers for Americana album, won by Bonnie Raitt (not a surprise that Avetts didn't win, although I figured Mumford & Sons were going to take that one); and Charlotte native Anthony Hamilton, who didn't win either of his two R&B categories.
Still to come, Granite Falls native Eric Church, nominated in two country categories; and all the big main-category hoo-ha. Stick around, or come on back...
7:14 -- They may not have won their category, but it’s an absolute lead-pipe cinch the Carolina Chocolate Drops were the best-looking bunch in the house. Here’s a picture that co-manager Tim Duffy (who is second from the right) posted to his Facebook page a few hours ago…
7:41 -- While we’re waiting for the telecast to get going, all the fashionistas can take a look at this photo gallery of red-carpet arrivals.
7:57 -- Eric Church is 0-for-1, losing out to Carrie Underwood for country song. Telecast portion is mere minutes away.
8:00 -- And here we go. Guess it's not a surprise that Church lost out to Underwood, given that she's one of the announced performers.
8:02 -- What...the hell...is this? Methinks Taylor Swift has been reading "Alice in Wonderland" again. WhatEVer...I am still baffled by the dude in the butane-powered flame-throwing bicycle-type contraption.
8:05 -- Sorry, Taylor, that was underwhelming even if emcee LL Cool J calls it "spectacular." And now he's making a somewhat awkward speech about inspiration and such; shout-outs to Beyonce, Underwood, Justin Timberlake, Adele, Gotye. I'm expecting a point...soon...
8:08 -- LL, nobody cares that you won two Grammys. And now he's introducing Elton John and Ed Sheeran.
8:10 -- Elton's voice has always been the epitome of youthful yearning, but it has just not aged well. Sheeran quite nice, however, even if he's playing what appears to be a toy guitar; and Elton still plays a mighty fine piano.
8:15 -- And here's a commercial with Swift flogging her "Red" album, which she'd like you to know is "available at Target." It ain't the Super Bowl, but the multi-platform marketing is in full effect.
8:18 -- STOP already with the sucking up to Taylor Swift, LL! Pitbull and J-Lo are the first presenters, for pop solo performance...NOT feeling J-Lo's dress. And it goes to...Adele -- who apparently did not win enough last year. And if J-Lo's dress is unflattering, dang, Adele's upholstered dress makes her look like a couch. Charming short-and-sweet acceptance speech, however.
8:22 -- Neil Patrick Harris out to introduce Fun.
8:25 -- Young, earnest angst never goes out of style. Carry on and rumble, young men, rumble. But I've always wondered how they can dump water on people around microphones and electric guitars without shocking someone to death.
8:30 -- Gee, the omnipresent Taylor Swift is on "Letterman" this week, according to this here promo. What are the odds?!
8:32 -- Bonnie Raitt and John Mayer (I'm sorry, Bonnie, I really am -- he's not fit to tune your guitar) are out to introduce Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley.
8:35 -- This is kind of awful. They're both off-key, and the band doesn't sound as if it has ever played together before. Their voices also aren't a good match, not at all. To bottom it off, they both look terrible. And Lambert's pink microphone is disturbingly reminiscent of...well...Never mind.
8:38 -- As Arlo Guthrie once put it, "That was horrible." The bar has been set pretty low.
8:39 -- Dick Clark tribute with footage of teenage LL on "American Bandstand." Nice period piece. And it's on to Miguel and Wiz Khalifa...
8:40 -- Much better, mostly because Miguel can actual, you know, SING.
8:42 -- Country solo performance being presented, here is Eric Church's last shot...
8:43 -- ...but he is denied by Carrie Underwood, yet again. Guess he's only crossed over so far after all. And that closes the book on our North Carolina nominees, who only took home one Grammy (Steep Canyon Rangers for bluegrass album) out of seven nominations. Just wait 'til next year!
8:44 -- Underwood closes by thanking God; what are the odds?!
8:50 -- LL, it's no cooler to suck up to Carrie Underwood than to Taylor Swift. Come on, dude, seriously. And now Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are out; dang has Faith Hill lost about 50 pounds? Looking quite severe.
8:51 -- And song of the year goes to..."We Are Young," by the aforementioned Fun. Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" denied.
8:53 -- Fun. looks like a huge bunch of robonerds, and they don't know when to shut up. Finally, they're done. And here's Johnny Depp, introducing Mumford & Sons. A year ago, the Avett Brothers were up there with Mumford, backing up Bob Dylan.
8:55 -- Is it just me, or have almost all the performers been off-key? Like they can't hear themselves, maybe? This is an almost unrecognizable version of Mumford's "I Will Wait," not unlike what Dylan has been doing to his own songs for years. Maybe they were comparing notes last year?
9:04 -- Beyonce and Ellen DeGeneres out to do a painfully awkward introduction of Justin Timberlake (seriously, I thought Beyonce was gonna reach over and smack her when she did that weird up-close stare).
9:05 -- Say what you will about JT, dude is a star. Pretty cool touch to go monochromatic on this, too.
9:06 -- Ooh, nice, Beyonce's husband stands up from his seat in the crowd and walks up rapping. This song ain't much, but Timberlake is great to watch.
9:08 -- Okay, this second song is beyond redemption even by Timberlake. It's not even a song so much as a succession of vamps and flourishes.
9:11 -- And it has gone on waaaaaaaaaay too long. Now here is Kelly Rowland (fresh off the Destiny's Child Super Bowl reunion) with Nas to present urban contemporary album. Please don't let the loathesome Chris Brown win...
9:13 -- ...And he doesn't. It goes to Frank Ocean instead. Good.
9:18 -- What does it mean that Timberlake's Bud Light commercial is better than the second song he just played?
9:19 -- Back to the show, Dan Auerbach announced as non-classical producer of the year; no surprise there. And now it's time for rock performance, which goes to...Auerbach's band the Black Keys -- no surprise there, either. They're on their way to a big night.
9:22 -- LL introducing Alicia Keys and Maroon 5. Help. If we just let Adam Levine take his shirt off, can he not sing? Pretty please?
9:23 -- Dammit, he's singing. I have never understood the appeal of this bunch, who seem like the epitome of faceless dreck. And Levine has always seemed like a poor man's Dave Matthews (who I hate, too, while we're at it).
9:25 -- Wow, Keys on drums as she sings. That's...unexpected. But the more she sings, the less Levine will. It's all good.
9:26 -- Keith Urban and someone from "The Big Bang Theory," in a very odd combination. More awkward small talk as they introduce pop vocal album nominees. Please don't let it go to Maroon 5...
9:28 -- ...and it doesn't. The winner is Kelly Clarkson, a good choice. She has to hug everyone on her way up to the stage. And she is just adorably enthusiastic -- shouting out Miguel and saying they've "gotta sing together." Cool. I dig her.
9:34 -- 96 Rock's "Million Dollar Commercial" is truly embarrassing.
9:36 -- Rihanna out to sing; comes out of the gate sounding lots better than most of tonight's other performers. Wish they hadn't shown Chris Brown applauding afterward, however.
9:40 -- Carly Rae Jepsen and Ne-Yo out to present rap-sung collaboration. Seems like Jay-Z's a shoe-in for this one, since he's got two nominations...
9:41 -- ... and he does, sharing it with Kanye West. Frank Ocean does most of the talking, and Jay-Z closes. Where's Kanye? Hmm...
9:43 -- Lightnin' Hopkins, Glenn Gould, the Temptations, Carole King, Ravi Shankar and Charlie Haden are the lifetime-achievement award winners, which they spend less than 10 seconds on. Classy...
9:48 -- Based on this Pepsi commercial, Tate Stevens is "The X-Factor"'s idea of a country star. They are clearly not to be trusted. Yee-ha...
9:49 -- Time for Black Keys' performance! With Dr. John and Preservation Hall Jazz Band!! Suddenly, we have signs of life -- this is majorly kick-ass.
9:51 -- And here's your Grammy moment, right here. Pile-driving beat, excellent song and that brass pumping away. Awesome! Love Dr. John's headdress, too.
9:53 -- Kelly Clarkson back up to sing. She can, too, you know. Nice Patti Page tribute with "Brand New Tennessee Waltz"; segued into Carole King's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" -- really, really good; if a tad oversold on the outro.
9:57 -- Now Clarkson gets to present country album; which goes to...
9:58 -- Zac Brown Band. Well, okay. Better then than Miranda Lambert, who was ghastly earlier in the evening...Aw, now Brown is choking up while thanking everyone.
10:05 -- Here we go with the Bob Marley tribute, featuring Sting, Ziggy Marley, Bruno Mars...
10:06 -- Mars starts off. I thought this was supposed to have something to do with reggae? I'm confused. Mars and his band are aces, though, so at least there's that.
10:08 -- And here's Sting; almost inaudible. Hmm...
10:09 -- But they've segued into the old Police hit "Walking on the Moon." You can hear him now. Not bad. Not great, either.
10:10 -- Which brings us to the younger Marley, with Rihanna. Better.
10:11 -- Damian Marley out to rap. Better still.
10:18 -- Lumineers out for an unplugged hootenanny-type thing on "Ho Hey." Nice enough, but I find myself wishing the Avett Brothers had gotten this performance slot instead. Oh well...
10:21 -- Jack White up next. Now, kids, watch: HERE is a rock star and this is how you do it.
10:22 -- I love that his entire backup band appears to be women. They're good, too, really good.
10:23 -- Okay, now he's also got a band of really noisy dudes; doing "Freedom at 21," a snarling blues-rock song from his album last year. Excellent!
10:26 -- Katy Perry and her dress out to present best new artist. That is, um, yeah, quite a dress; almost a special effect. And the best-new-artist curse goes to...
10:27 -- ...Fun., who you may now kiss goodbye. Maybe they'll still have a career by the time they play Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh Sept. 25.
10:35 -- Speaking of special-effects wardrobes, here's Carrie Underwood, in a dress that looks as if she probably had to be put onstage by crane, singing her winning song "Blown Away."
10:37 -- Wow, that dress is suddenly doubling as a Jumbotron IMAX screen. Will it be nominated for a technical award next year, I wonder? If nothing else, it's insuring that her singing ain't what anybody will be talking about afterward.
10:38 -- It's alive! Carrie Underwood's dress is alive!!
10:39 -- Prince out to present record of the year. Dang, wish he was playing instead of just presenting. Looks like he's wearing a blindfold. So will Black Keys' hot streak continue?...
10:41 -- Nope, Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know." Hoo boy...
10:42 -- Dude, say thank you and go away (although, to his credit, at least he appears to be in awe of Prince).
10:49 -- And we're back with a Dave Brubeck tribute, by Chic Corea and Stanley Clarke. Nice to hear "Take Five" in something besides a car commercial.
10:50 -- How to make the Neil Portnow eat-your-vegetables bit about the Grammy Foundation less appealing? Put Ryan Seacrest out there, too. Yawn...
10:51 -- But bringing Justin Timberlake back out is a pretty good idea. Except he's babbling about this being the "best Grammys ever." God, I hope not.
10:53 -- Segueing into the in memorium segment. Brubeck, Andy Williams, Donna Summer, Chuck Brown, Robin Gibb, Patti Page, Earl Scruggs, Doug Dillard, Davy Jones, Dick Clark, Marva Whitney, Fontella Bass, Herb Reed, Frank Wilson, Hal David, Andy Griffith, Marvin Hamlisch, Richard Adler, Patty Andrews, Dorothy McGuire, Jenni Rivera, Kitty Wells, Doc Watson, Joe South, Ravi Shankar, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Adam Yauch, Ed Cassidy, Levon Helm and Ronnie Montrose among those we lost. Rest in peace...
10:57 -- Elton John kicks off the Levon Helm tribute with a shout-out to the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims. Zac Brown takes the first verse of "The Weight." Mumford & Sons and T-Bone Burnett among the backup band...
10:59 -- Mavis Staples rules!
11:00 -- I like Marcus Mumford, but I don't envy him having to follow Staples.
11:01 -- Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes is killin' it, too -- I saw her do this at AMA back in September and she was great then, too.
11:02 -- And to Elton. Oh, Elton, your voice...
11:03 -- But this is still my favorite performance of the night; this, Black Keys and Jack White.
11:08 -- Lengthening commercial creep as the telecast wears on. Ugh...
11:09 -- Juanes out to do a Latinized version of Elton's "Your Song." Um...I'm sorry, but...this is kinda coming off like a caricature. Not feelin' it, even the part En Espanol. Sorry.
11:11 -- Frank Ocean in a most puzzling yellow-suit-and-headband ensemble. Singing "Forrest Gump," which ain't much of a song. Presentation a little too high-concept for its own good.
11:14 -- This is stupid. And off-key. And it's gone on too long. Dude, stop runnin'.
11:15 -- Would that Adele had changed her dress. But no, she's out to present album of the year. Fingers crossed for Black Keys! And it goes to...
11:16 -- ...Mumford & Sons instead. Still, coulda been worse.
11:24 -- LL Cool J (who has changed clothes), Chuck D, Tom Morello and Travis Barker out for the big finale. Public Enemy's main man can still be The Voice of Doom. and LL ain't bad, either...
11:27 -- Aw, nice Adam "MCA" Yauch tribute here, with some Beastie Boys riffing. I'm not the only one who misses him.
11:28 -- And that's a wrap, as the credits roll. 'Night, everybody.