The Grammy nominations concert, an hour-long TV special aired live from Nashville, just wrapped up and this year's show tipped its cowboy hat to the host city's country roots: "Honky-tonk, here I come," LL Cool J joked in his opening monologue. "You have no idea how excited I am to have you in Nashville," Taylor Swift told her co-host. "This is my town!"
All in all, it was a decent watch: Country had a strong showing with a Johnny Cash tribute from Dierks Bentley and The Band Perry, plus performances from country-pop acts Luke Bryan and Hunter Hayes. Maroon 5, fun. and Ne-Yo also took the stage, while Jay-Z, Kanye, fun., Mumford & Sons and Frank Ocean topped the nominees with six each--see the complete list here. And perhaps best of all: Adam Levine kept his shirt on!
Below are the most notable moments. Be sure to check out photos of the event, too!
Taylor Swift Beat-Boxes!
In her opening segment with LL, Swift reprised her role as T-Swizzle, beat-boxing her song "Mean" from her hit album Red (which wasn't released in time to be eligible for any awards this year). "I'm 100% sure we're not going to be nominated for that collaboration," said Swift. Yeah, probably not. Watch below.
Country Youngster Hunter Hayes "Sings" Pop Vocal Noms
Um, this kid is a famous singer? Or is he just trying out for American Idol? On acoustic guitar he butchered snippets of each Best Pop Vocal nominee--Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger," Florence + the Machine's "Ceremonials," Maroon 5's "Overexposed," fun.'s "Some Nights," and Pink's "The Truth About Love." Never again.
Johnny Cash Tribute & Vintage Footage
Sure, The Band Perry and Dierks Bentley paid tribute to Nashville's own Johnny Cash with a totally fine cover of his and wife June Carter's classic "Jackson." But it was the snippet of a grinning Cash at the 1973 Grammys singing a silly ditty about, well, the Grammys, that really killed it. Take note, Hunter.
Janelle Monae Twirling & Smiling During fun.'s "We Are Young"
New York indie poppers fun., nominated for six Grammys, including Best New Artist, performed a spare piano-guitar-and-vocals rendition of their breakout hit "We Are Young," featuring futuristic Atlanta R&B crooner Monae. Dapper fun. singer Nate Ruess dialed up the dramatics, while Monae offered layered backing vocals--and perhaps had the most fun, twirling with a smile wider than the stage. “When you call yourself fun., you need to live up to your name—they do,” Swift said. Monae certainly does.
Album of the Year Nominees: Relevant! Rock Reigns Supreme!
What, no Herbie Hancock?!? When the nominees for Album of the Year were unveiled toward the show's end, something seemed off. And by "off," I mean "totally on." The academy this year proved their hipness by giving nods to young artists who actually deserve them most: the Black Keys, fun., Mumford & Sons, Jack White and Frank Ocean. That's a four-out-of-five win for rock music, BTW. Notably missing, however: women.
Earl Sweatshirt's Reaction to Frank Ocean's Nominations
The once exiled rapper took to Twitter to celebrate his Odd Future cohort Ocean's six nods, writing, "DU RAGS TO THE GRAMMYS," a direct reference to Ocean's signature bandana. Heed his advice, Frank. NEVER GIVE IN.
LL Cool J and Sheryl Crow's Fountain of Youth
A friend watching the show in my living room asked, "Wait... is LL actually getting younger?" It's an appropriate observation--dude looks great. A few minutes later it was, "Wait... is that Sheryl Crow? Her and LL know the same secret."
Tune into CBS on February 10 to watch the 55th annual Grammys ceremony.
Oh, Lady Gaga. You're the best.