A moment-by-moment reflection of the 64th Annual Grammy Awards telecast
Of course, the Grammy broadcast keeps changing.
Rock has been cast aside to the online-only portion which, if it were in prime time, it would have meant people repeatedly accepting on behalf of the Foo Fighters, who quite understandably were not at the ceremony.
Some categories surprisingly were shunted to the online portion — like Tyler the Creator’s Call Me if You Get Lost (the best of the nominees, for sure) winning for Best Album or Olivia Rodrigo taking Best Pop Song for “Drivers License.”
On the plus side, the various awards being online only kept TV viewers from seeing the predatory Louis CK taking the Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
But do go on about “cancel culture” and how people like Marilyn Manson have been cance- oh, wait. He also picked up a Grammy Sunday. Never mind.
Jack Antonoff picked up one for Best Producer, Non-Classical. This isn’t surprising since, if I’m not mistaken, there’s a new law that requires Antonoff to produce every artist at least once. If it’s not Antonoff, it’s Dave Cobb.
There were also performances that deserved to be seen by the wider audience, like Mon Laferte’s rip through “La Mujer.”
But, the show’s producers have decided to put the show together in a different fashion.
Let’s dig in, as it happens.
VIDEO: Silk Sonic wins Record of the Year
8:01 p.m. — Silk Sonic opens the show with its retro cosplay, albeit highly energetic and entertaining cosplay. They’re having a blast onstage and the audience agrees.
8:06 pm. — Anderson.Paak should have stayed onstage at the drum kit to give Trevor Noah some rimshots. He could use them.
8:07 p.m. — Olivia Rodrigo, with some rather literal staging, starts to sing “Drivers License” in a car. And when she sings “red lights”, the lights turn red. It’s probably best that she didn’t have a reference getting hit by a bus in the lyrics. That said, Sour was one of last year’s best albums and she delivered a good performance.
8:12 p.m. — J Balvin, joined by Maria Becerra in a performance of a couple of songs — “Qué Má’ Pues” and “In Da Ghetto.” If there was a category for “Most Likely to Be Heard Blaring From a Car Outside My Apartment”, this performance would be nominated, which is a good thing. Energetic with interesting visuals.
8:22 p.m. — Questlove presenting Song of the Year. This is where I take a moment to highly suggest you see Summer of Soul, which he directed. It’s a terrific documentary chock full of history and great musical performances.
8:24 p.m. — Overheard in my apartment: “Anybody, but Bieber.” I concur. The Presidents’ “Peaches” >>> Bieber’s “Peaches.”
8:24 p.m. — “And the Grammy goes to” — Silk Sonic for “Leave the Door Open.” Anderson Paak is still wearing his Beatle bob.
8:27 pm. — And here’s BTS, leaning into the fact that they’re playing in Vegas with the opening staging. “Butter” is one of those songs that even people who grumble about modern pop can’t get out of their head.
8:38 p.m. — It’s a nice choice to at least show some love to pre-broadcast performers. Aymee Nuviola performing “La Gota Fria” gets the first slot.
8:39 p.m. — Lil Nas X doing a medley of “Dead Right Now” and “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” before being joined by Jack Harlow for “Industry Baby.”
A talented Black, openly gay performer getting this slot and delivering? This is going to make some Florida Men angry. Tough. “Old Town Road” could have been one of those big hits that eclipsed anything that came after, but Lil Nas X was clearly ready for his star turn.
8:45 p.m. — Not GRAMMY-related, but I like the thought that there are going to be younger people who ask, “What IS that song in the iPad commercial?” and that’s going to be how they discover Sparks.
8:51 p.m. — Best Country Album goes to Chris Stapleton for Starting Over. This might also be a winner if Most Predictable Grammy were a category. It’s a perfectly fine album, but it’s a very safe pick.
8:55 p.m. — Billie Eilish pays tribute to the late Taylor Hawkins, wearing a sweatshirt with his picture on it as she performs “Happier Than Ever.”
8:56 p.m. — Damn. It still feels wrong to have to say “the late Taylor Hawkins.”
8:59 p.m. — Billie Eilish, Finneas and their band just finished a passionate performance that’s the best of the show so far. The quiet-into-loud dynamic is a trope, but when performed well, it works. It worked.
VIDEO: Olivia Rodrigo wins Best New Artist Grammy
9:11 p.m. — Olivia Rodrigo picks up the Best New Artist Grammy. This is more predictable than the Stapleton one earlier. But it’s a pretty good debut album, making my personal Top 10 for 2021. Plus, unlike some past people in the category, including ones this year, she actually was a new artist.
9:13 p.m. — So good to see Joni Mitchell on the stage with Bonnie Raitt. So many great albums came from that woman. An obvious statement, I know, but especially with COVID, we’ve lost too many talents the last few years.
9:14 p.m — I want a jacket like Brandi Carlile’s.
9:16 p.m. — I’d say I want a voice like Brandi Carlile’s, but she does more with it than I could, delivering an emotional performance of “Right On Time” with lights in the colors of the rainbow surrounding the band.
9:22 p.m. — I thought they were going to have online acts doing bumper music. So far, Aymee Nuviola is the only one.
9:23 p.m. — Nas offering a reminder that rap doesn’t always have to be a young man’s game. Coming on the heels of two pretty good albums last year, he delivers a strong performance with his trademark flow on a medley of “I Can”, “Made You Look” and “Rare.”
9:35 p.m. — Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar win Best Rap Performance for “Family Ties,” which is not undeserved. With all due respect to Baby Keem, who does a fine job on the song, it definitely whets the appetite for a full-on Kendrick return.
VIDEO: Baby Keem in the media room
9:37 p.m. — Overheard in my apartment: “They’ve got dry ice, so you know they’re serious.”
9:40 p.m. — They also have strings. In case we didn’t know this was serious.
9:41 p.m. — All kidding aside, Stapelton remains a very consistent performer, on record and on stage. “Cold” sounds like a song that somebody like B.B. King or Bobby “Blue” Bland would have had a hit with 50 years ago, which is a total compliment.
9:43 p.m. — At last, another bumper song — gospel band Maverick City Music performing “Jireh.” It really would be nice if they were more consistent with having these lesser known acts and categories getting a little bit of a spotlight.
9:50 p.m. — Woah. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy makes an impassioned appearance, asking for support and asking that the world not remain silent in the face of Russia’s genocidal aggression against his country. He introduced a performance of “Free” by John Legend and a trio of Ukranians — musican Siuzanna Iglidan, singer Mika Newton and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk. There have been emotional performances tonight, but none with the stakes involved here.
VIDEO: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives speech at the Grammy Awards 2022
10:03 p.m. — Lady Gaga channeling Rat Pack headliner vibes of this performance of “Love For Sale” and “Do I Love You?”
10:08 p.m. — This one is for anyone reading this who isn’t familiar with the man who isn’t able to be on this stage. Go check out Tony Bennett’s work. Start with the ’50s and ’60s. You’re welcome.
10:09 p.m. — Billy Porter, a fabulous performer, dressed in the same shade of pink as a highlighter marker, is presenting Best R&B Album.
10:10 p.m. — Jazmine Sullivan would have gotten my vote and, lo and behold, she gets the Grammy. She looks genuinely surprised and pleased. Heaux Tales is a damn good record.
10:14 p.m. — Our third bumper act — bluegrass artist Billy Strings — gets his crack at the spotlight.
10:21 p.m. — The Pop Vocal album goes to Olivia Rodrigo for Sour. It had to be either her or Billie Eilish.
10:24 p.m. — Instead of the Foo Fighters performance that had been planned before Hawkins performance, the In Memoriam segment It starts off with footage of Hawkins, then a brief pause before the full segment with the music of Stephen Sondheim sung by Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr. and Rachel Zegler. Tonally, this is a much better choice than the Oscar producers went with in their memoriam segment this year.
10:36 p.m. — Jon Batiste, doing “Freedom”, playing the piano well as part of a staging with so, so, so many pastels and shininess and oh, so peppy that it’s like a Super Bowl Halftime Show broke out at the MGM Grand Garden Hotel. He might be having more of a blast than the Silk Sonic guys.
VIDEO: Doja Cat and SZA win Best Pop Duo Grammy
10:46 p.m. — “I get my peaches out in Georgia.” I guess someone eliminated the first draft of that line– “I get my pastrami out in Lower East Side.”
10:48 p.m. — “I get my weed from California.” Yes, because weed is unavailable in 48 states, Justin.
10:49 p.m. — I guess “I get my scrapple from Pennsylvania/Our love is real I better warn ya” didn’t make the final cut for the lyrics here, either.
10:51 p.m. — The Justin Bieber performance is over. Thankfully. “Peaches” isn’t as grating as “Lonely” (few are), but it is not exactly his best work.
10:56 p.m. — The best Pop Duo/Group Grammy goes to, surprisingly, “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat and SZA.
The safe pick of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett didn’t happen.
10:57 pm. — Doja Cat was not expecting to win, so she thought she could take a bathroom break, quipping after getting to the stage and trying to adjust her dress, “I have not taken a faster piss in my whole life.” Laughs, then tears later when SZA’s thank yous allowed the moment to sink in for Doja Cat, who has talked off and on about walking away from the music business in recent weeks.
11:01 p.m. — Another nice touch throughout the night, having members of artists touring crews introduce musical performances.
11:01 pm. — Another combination of performers — H.E.R, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Travis Barker and Lenny Kravitz — doing “Damage”, “We Made It”, “Oh God Help Us” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way.”
11:05 p.m. — Overheard in my apartment: “Those boots! I didn’t realize Ace Frehley had a garage sale.”
11:06 p.m. — Even with all other talents as part of that medley, that was H.E.R.’s showcase all the way — She sang, she played guitar, she drummed. She delivered.
11:09 p.m. — Record of the Year goes to Silk Sonic for “Leave the Door Open,” who are clearly having a good time tonight. Frankly, they look like they’d have been having a good time even if they hadn’t won any Grammys.
11:15 p.m. — Carrie Underwood appears for the live debut of her new song “Ghost Story,” which goes into the Anthemic Ballad section under, “Swelling chorus with strings.”
11:24 pm. — Album of the Year goes to Jon Batiste for We Are. I’m not surprised. This is a pretty safe pick that checks a lot of Grammy voter boxes. He makes a humble, lovely speech. Now, give him his Super Bowl Halftime Show already, maybe the next time New Orleans hosts.
11:27 p.m. — Closing out the night, the Brothers Osborne. Angry, small-minded Florida Men get angrier at the sight.
11:29 p.m. — This is an energetic performance of “Dead Man’s Curve.” I always like seeing other musicians getting into it, even if it’s not necessarily the genre they work in. Lady Gaga and Brandi Carlile, eyes closed and grooving. BTS moving like they’re ready to spend a long, fun night in a country bar.
11:31 p.m. — The show is over, pretty much on time. Overall, the ratio of quality performances was high, a good thing considering the show’s wise shift to emphasize live performance more in recent years. There were a few interesting award choices, but plenty that offered no surprise whatsoever.
And as for those disappointed that rock-and-roll awards aren’t on prime time any more, there were performances that certainly fit under that umbrella during the night, and good ones at that.
11:46 p.m. — “Smooth. Like. Butter/Pull you in like no other.” Even with the local news on now, hours later, it’s in my head. BTS, folks.
VIDEO: 64th Annual Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony