Chances are, Sunday night's Grammy Awards won't be nearly as exciting for us in North Carolina as last year's model and its stunning finale -- even if it's certain to be a somber occasion, given Saturday night's events. But year in and year out, the telecast is always one of the most reliably entertaining trainwrecks in show business.
So come on back to this space when it starts at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, and we will break snark together. Check the photo gallery, too.
7:40 p.m. -- Some awards have been given out in the pre-telecast portion of the program, and the Triangle already has a couple of Grammys in hand. Bon Iver, Raleigh alumnus Justin Vernon’s band, has won best alternative album; so even if he comes up empty in his other three nominations (best new artist and record/song of the year), Vernon won’t be going home empty-handed.
Durham-based Merge Records also won a Grammy for best recording package, for the expanded version of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” (which won album of the year last year, you may recall). And Levon Helm’s best-Americana-album victory for “Ramble at the Rynam” gives some shine to Greensboro songwriter Laurelyn Dossett – whose song “Anna Lee” Helm including on the album.
As for those falling short, Jim Lauderdale and Steep Canyon Rangers lost out to Alison Krauss for best bluegrass album; Durham-based Marsalis Music fell short for best large jazz ensemble album; and Asheville’s Warren Haynes lost to Tedeschi Trucks Band for best blues album.
More to come…
7:52 -- CBS' pre-Grammy "60 Minutes" feature with Adele closes with a plug for online outtakes. You can go there for the "Funniest moments with Adele...brought to you by Viagra." Oh, yeah...
8:00 -- "Ladies and gentlemen...Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band!" Not a bad way to start. Not surprisingly, it's his new single, "We Take Care of Our Own." A little ragged on the vocal, but it's all good.
8:03 -- You know, I wish we did take care of our own here in America. Alas, seems like that's kind of been the problem in recent years.
8:05 -- Host LL Cool J out, asking "how to speak to these times." Also not surprisingly, the evening's first Whitney Houston reference. LL leads the audience in a prayer for her, followed by a clip of her belting out "I Will Always Love You" a few years back.
8:09 -- Okay, Mr. Cool J, this monologue is going on a little too long...
8:10 -- "O.G. Paul McCartney?" Seriously, dude?!
8:11 -- Bruno Mars is out to do his performance. And even if his hopped-up R&B revue ain't your kind of thing, Mars is one of those performers who seems impossible to dislike. He is one good-lookin' cat, too.
8:13 -- Mars is trying to whip the crowd up, first with a Whitney Houston reference and second with a plea for everyone to "get up offa your rich asses!" Oooh...
8:21 -- Bonnie Raitt and Alicia Keys out to do Etta James' "Sunday Kind of Love," in tribute to her and Houston. Nice; Raitt just owns this, and Keys is keeping up with her.
8:23 -- Raitt and Keys present best pop solo vocal performance; Lady Gaga looks like she's wearing mesh. And the winner is...Adele. No surprise at all, although Mars is jumping up and down; in anger, perhaps? Excited for her? No idea...
8:25 -- Adele's accent is about the most charming thing ever. Nicely done on her acceptance speech; which is lead-in to Chris Brown's performance...
8:27 -- How is it that there's not a best-aerobics-record Grammy? If they gave that one out, Brown would be the prohibitive favorite. Dude's got moves, no doubt about it.
8:28 -- Chris Brown, continued: I thought the Super Bowl halftime show was last weekend.
8:35 -- Fergie and Marc Anthony out for some excruciating banter, and to present best rap performance; which goes to...Jay-Z and Kanye West. Who aren't here. Oh well.
8:37 -- Reba McEntire out to introduce the unlikely couple of Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean to duet on "Don't You Wanna Stay." Nice to have them on the same stage, actually; at her recent DPAC show, Clarkson did this one accompanied by a 30-foot-high hologram of Aldean onstage, which was kinda creepy.
8:46 -- Jack Black introduces Foo Fighters with a reference to indie cred and (I think) a slight to Bon Iver. Hmm. Still, Foo Fighters are perfectly likable. I think Dave Grohl might be his generation's Tom Petty; and it's cool that they're playing out in the Staples Center parking lot.
8:56 -- Rihanna and Coldplay, together again for the very first time as one of Grammy's odd-couple pairings; this should be...interesting...
8:58 -- Two minutes in, this is a heckuva lot more Rihanna (and her cast of a thousand dancers) than Coldplay. Another Super Bowl-worthy spectacle, complete with her urging the crowd to "Make some noise for Whitney!" That's four references to Houston in the first hour, by my count.
9:00 -- And here is Coldplay's Chris Martin, finally, on acoustic guitar and dueting with Rihanna. Nice enough, even if also kinda forced in the time-honored Grammy tradition.
9:03 -- The rest of Coldplay is out to do "Paradise." It's, um, not making much of an impression. Can't say I'm surprised it did not win best pop/duo group performance.
9:08 -- Willie Nelson's cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist" on this Chiptole Cultivate Foundation commercial is making a far bigger impression than Coldplay's own performance, quite frankly.
9:13 -- Speaking of the Super Bowl, two New York Giants players and a gal from the CBS series NCIS are out to present best rock performance. Victor Cruz does his little salsa touchdown bit. And as graceful as Mario Manningham was last week, he's incredibly awkward at the mike. And the Grammy goes to...the Foo Fighters, over Coldplay, Radiohead, Mumford & Sons and Decembrists. An okay choice.
9:16 -- They finally cut Grohl off to bring out Ryan Seacrest to introduce the Beach Boys tribute; starting with Maroon 5...who try "Surfer Girl" on for size; and it's...well, not good. It's downright hideous, in fact. These guys used to be popular, right? Can anyone explain why?
9:19 -- Here's hoping Foster the People can do better with "Wouldn't It Be Nice?"
9:20 -- Well, they're better than Maroon 5. Yes, that is damning with faint praise. Funny thing, nobody else can pull off those vocal harmonies like the original Beach Boys.
9:21 -- Including the Beach Boys themselves, circa 2012, reconvened for their 50-year anniversary. Mike Love has always scared me; and Brian Wilson -- poor, poor Brian Wilson. He looks terrified, the very essence of deer-in-the-headlinghts. They manage to get through it.
9:31 -- Stevie Wonder! He sends a shout-out to Whitney, pulls out a harmonica and brings down the house in about 10 seconds. Wish he'd keep going. But he's introducing Paul McCartney. Here we go...
9:33 -- Um...Paul? This new song of yours, "My Valentine"? It's not good. In fact, it's pretty terrible. "Silly Love Songs"-type terrible. Please, stop. This is embarrassing. And Joe Walsh, of all people, on flamenco guitar (!).
9:36 -- Common out with an actress from yet another CBS series, to give a shout-out to lifetime acheivement award winner to Gil Scott Heron, and present best R&B album. Chris Brown looks way nervous. And it goes to...the aforementioned Chris Brown.
9:38 -- Strangely, he does not mention Whitney Houston. Now we have The Civil Wars saying they'd like to "thank all our opening acts." Nice. And yet The Civil Wars kinda puzzle me -- the esteem in which they are held. Perfectly inoffensive, at least, and now they're introducing Taylor Swift.
9:41 -- Swift is wielding a banjo, leading an enormous band and singing another of her revenge fantasies, "Mean." I can't help but like her, seriously. This is a heckuva lot livelier than a lot of what various "legends" have been throwing down so far tonight. The look on her face as the crowd cheers says, "You like me! You really like me!"
9:50 -- Neil Patrick Harris out to present song of the year; seems kind of early for this one. Anyway, it should be Adele in a landslide. Bon Iver is nominated here. And it goes to...Adele. The landslide is on, I'd say.
9:52 -- Adele just as adorable as before; and she lets her producer have a word, too. They hug. Nice. On to Kate Beckinsale to introduce Katy Perry.
9:53 -- Who appears to be trying to get her Lady Gaga on. Bright blue hair, an incomprehensible outfit, a strident song that is way less memorable than the visuals. God bless America.
9:57 -- Somewhere, Janet Jackson is watching Perry and wondering why everybody nowadays cops from her "Rhythm Nation" tour 20-some years ago.
9:58 -- Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley out to present best country album. Appalachian State alumnus Eric Church is up for this one, though it's hard to imagine he can beat Taylor Swift. And the winner is...Lady Antebellum? Really? They're still winning Grammys this year after all the ones they won last year?
9:59 -- That dude in Lady Antebellum is one tall individual.
10:05 -- Chris Martin's wife -- that would be Gwyneth Paltrow -- is out to introduce Adele's performance. She's already won four Grammys, and now she's gonna do "Rolling in the Deep."
10:07 -- This is good. Really good. And I'm wishing she didn't keep canceling her tours.
10:09 -- Very cool gospel flourishes from Adele and her backup singers. And I can't help thinking about Whitney Houston, who was at the top just like Adele is now -- and like Amy Winehouse was a few years ago. I hope a kinder fate awaits her.
10:16 -- Taylor Swift back out to introduce the Glen Campbell tribute, starting with...The Band Perry. Yet another videogenic young country act that I don't get. And they're not doing much with "Gentle on My Mind."
10:19 -- Mr. Miranda Lambert -- that would be Blake Shelton -- takes a turn with "Southern Nights." He always reminds me of the father of the bride on the mike at a wedding reception, and this is no exception.
10:21 -- And now Campbell himself will do "Rhinestone Cowboy." I quite like his latest album, but he obviously does not have much voice left. I'm kinda wishing he'd done the new album's title track "Ghost on the Canvas" instead; and why didn't they have the Beach Boys involved here, given his involvement with them way back when?
10:23 -- Was that Joe Walsh I just saw dancing out in the audience?
10:31 -- Carrie Underwood and Tony Bennett on to present best new artist, and do a quick duet on "It Had To Be You." Dang, if I'm still around at 85, I hope I'm as spry as Mr. Bennett.
10:33 -- On to best new artist. And it goes to...Bon Iver! Wow! Two for Justin Vernon tonight! Even though he's hardly "new," but what the heck.
10:34 -- This is a long way from Vernon's days in Raleigh. He's kinda fumbling his way through this, and they cut him off. Oh well. Wish he'd sent a shout-out to his old bandmates in Megafaun...
10:36 -- Grammy president Neil Portnow's yearly helping of vegetables. Time for a run to the frig for something sweet.
10:40 -- The "In Memorium" segment starts with Amy Winehouse. It includes Nick Ashford, Steve Jobs, Nate Dogg, George Shearing, Phoebe Snow, Dobie Gray, Johnny Otis, Joe Morello, Bert Jansch, Hazel Dickens, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Clarence Clemons...but not Etta James, oddly enough. As expected, it closes with Whitney Houston.
10:43 -- Jennifer Hudson is starkly lit as she starts into Houston's Dolly Parton-penned signature "I Will Always Love You." Very stately, spare, stark. Loads better than the over-the-top pop productions from earlier in the show.
10:46 -- That was lovely, rough edges and all.
10:51 -- Deadmaus, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Foo Fighters, David Guetta and others in a free-for-all tribute to dance music. This is pretty cool, nevertheless. And the always-likable/aforementioned Dave Grohl is one of those guys you can throw into any situation and have it work.
11:04 -- Drake out to introduce Nicki Minaj. And this is off to a weird start. Is she...possessed by the devil? This is kinda...creepy.
11:07 -- Mighty strange performance art by Ms. Minaj. I think she should moderate the next Republican presidential debate, just for grins.
11:10 -- Lady Antebellum is out to announce record of the year. How can Adele not win this one?
11:12 -- And it goes to...yes, Adele. No surprise, indeed. All that's left is album of the year and it's hard to imagine she won't win that,too. "Thank you so much, this is ridiculous." I love this woman. Thumbs up!
11:19 -- Diana Ross is out to present album of the year and it's...another for Adele. Alas, that closes the door on Raleigh expatriate Miles Walker, a studio engineer who shared Rihanna's nomination. But hard to be too upset about this. She is busting out the hugs and going to pieces, trying to remember everyone to thank -- and blowing her nose on her sleeve. Adorkable, I tell you.
11:23 -- All that's left is to turn it back over to Paul McCartney. And I sure hope there will be no more new songs...
11:24 -- So far so good, with "Golden Slumbers," McCartney at the piano. Yes, his voice is showing its age. Nice, though.
11:27 -- They're sticking with the "Abbey Road" medley and it's right fine. Good to see Springsteen out there on guitar behind Sir Paul, sharing the mike with...Joe Walsh? Man, he's been everywhere tonight. So has Dave Grohl, sharing McCartney's mike.
11:29 -- Veddy nice guitar fireworks from Walsh, Springsteen, et al.
11:30 -- Done on the dot. Your late local news is next. Good night, everybody.