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.