Macklemore & Ryan Lewis kicked off the 56th Grammy Awards nomination concert last night with the song that put the hard-working Seattle rappers on the map: “Thrift Shop”. The performance — filled with a lot of self-censoring — was just the opening salvo for the hip-hop duo that went on to earn seven nominations, including best new artist, album of the year and song of the year for their anti-homophobia chart topper “Same Love.” Only Jay Z bested the duo with nine nods. The Grammy nomination concert was hosted by LL Cool J (who was released from the set of NCIS: Los Angeles for the occasion). Here are the highlights from the concert that we assume no one else watched as it aired on a Friday night:
Least Life-like Experience: It was heavily touted that Taylor Swift would be performing. In fact she was —but in Sydney, Australia. Viewers were treated to a simulcast performance of her song “I Knew You Were Trouble” on giant televisions, which probably had fewer buffering problems than watching the video on YouTube on repeat, but not much else going for it.
Fun Fact: While Swift’s Red came out in 2012, the Grammys have a different understanding of years than the rest of us: by their rules, they run from October to October. Thus, Red is eligible to win for both Album of the Year and Country Album of the Year in 2014.
Most Unlikely Pairing: Keith Urban and Miguel covering Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.”
Most Serious Moment: LL Cool J took a moment out of the concert to say a few words about Nelson Mandela, which got serious nod from Melissa Etheridge.
Biggest Surprise: Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest was nominated for Album of the Year.
Biggest Applause: While Bareilles’ nomination was a surprise, it was Kendrick Lamar’s and Macklemore & Lewis’s nods that got the biggest applause from the live studio audience.
Most Notable Absence: While Justin Timberlake is also up for seven Grammys. His The 20/20 Experience was passed over in the album of the year category. Perhaps Timberlake should have sent the voting members of the Recording Academy an Edible Arrangement.
Strangest Display of Modesty: Katy Perry, who was broadcast in from a packed concert hall somewhere in Canada, told the crowd that she had no idea that her song “Roar” would be such a big deal. Guess she’s not used to this whole hit song thing.
Worst Dialogue: LL Cool J: “You ready to blur some lines for us, Robin?” Robin Thicke: “Yes, I hope so.” Interesting Tidbit: Three of the five Album of the Year nominees (Taylor Swift’s Red, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist) came out in October 2012.
Most Straight Forward Introduction: “The host of The Arsenio Hall Show …Arsenio Hall!” Good hosting, LL!