The Grammy Nominations: We Watch On Pins And Needles, And We're Prickly : Monkey See Monkey See's Linda Holmes and NPR Music's Stephen Thompson sat down to watch and discuss the Grammy nominations concert. Who was nominated? Who performed? Who wore aluminum foil? Join us to find out.
NPR logo The Grammy Nominations: We Watch On Pins And Needles, And We're Prickly

The Grammy Nominations: We Watch On Pins And Needles, And We're Prickly

Cee Lo Green, seen here performing in November at the Soul Train Awards, was one of several artists who snagged big Grammy nominations on Wednesday night. Moses Robinson/Getty Images North America hide caption

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Moses Robinson/Getty Images North America

Stephen: Hello!

Linda: So here we are again, Stephen.

Stephen: Here we are! An all-new Criminal Minds!


Stephen: We're live-blogging Criminal Minds, right?

Linda: Yes, absolutely.

Stephen: Okay, I saw something about moppets.

Linda: No, we are watching the concert where they announce a small number of the Grammy nominations! And I sense that at some point, "Hey, Soul Sister" is going to come into play here.

Stephen: I believe Train is indeed performing, which is why this is such a huge news event.

Linda: Seriously, that song is like bedbugs. It is the bedbugs of songs. Hey, LL Cool J! Ladies Love Cool James!

Stephen: And Katy Perry! The bedbugs of pop singers, circa 2008!

Linda: She is wearing the fall collection from Reynolds Wrap.

Stephen: Okay, so they're announcing a small collection of Grammy nominations tonight, and this is meriting an hourlong CBS prime-time special. Which is why we're here. Also: Loneliness, is why we're here.

Linda: Don't forget our tremendous love of the Grammys.

Stephen: Right! I do so love the Grammys, particularly the part where I'm typing exasperated wisecracks as respite from watching the Grammys.

Linda: We do have kind of a "Why do you keep hitting yourself?" relationship with these awards.

Stephen: I feel like typing is causing me to miss the substance of this Katy Perry song. CURSE YOU, JOB AT NPR!

Linda: Now how will we know about Katy Perry? Who will tell us? And now: Bruno Mars!

Stephen: Coal miners, as they're lowered into the icy ground, must think to themselves, "At least we don't have to come up with a new way to cover the Grammys each year." And, hey, Bruno Mars! So... presumably Katy Perry and Bruno Mars are nominated for things this year.

Linda: This song was on Glee. (That is a thing I predict I will be tempted to say more than once.)

Stephen: Yeah, I have a feeling tonight is going to go, "Heard it on Glee, heard it in a commercial, heard in a commercial, heard it on Glee, wait, Train does that song? I hate that song."

Linda: Actually, with that song, ALL THREE of those things are true.

Stephen: Oops! Yeah, I don't actually watch Glee. [Ducks.]

Linda: I do not hold this against you. Last night, it included "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina," so not everything is about the current pop hits.

Stephen: Whew! I will feel better about skulking into the office tomorrow. Also, I expected more cutting-edge currency from Glee!

Linda: They've also touched on Yentl. Hey, these are some close-ups of Bruno Mars' teeth. Thanks, HD!

Stephen: Do you have any more observations about Bruno Mars? I feel like live-blogging Bruno Mars is little more than, "And then a man sang a song."

Linda: Too late! Song of the Year! With Dave Grohl and Selena Gomez! Dave Grohl finds it hilarious that he is presenting with Selena Gomez. And the news is that "F*** You" has been nominated for Song Of The Year, which I love.

Stephen: Okay, so Song Of The Year: Ray LaMontagne, Cee Lo, Miranda Lambert, Eminem and Rihanna, Lady Antebellum.

Linda: Boy, nothing hurts a liveblog of a Grammy nomination show quite like commercials.

Stephen: I feel like that Cee Lo song must have come out during the week ballots were mailed out. I love that song, but it disappeared from the radar almost instantly. Of those five, I hope it wins. I like both country songs, and I guess I would have expected "Not Afraid" from Eminem, and I am weirdly immune to Ray LaMontagne's charms for some reason.

Linda: Yeah, I hope it wins. Partly just because I like asterisks.

Stephen: I can't tell you how many discussions I've had around the office that have boiled down to, "What's our policy? Dashes or stars?"

Linda: Say, Stephen, according to this commercial, The Beatles are available on iTunes!

Stephen: THE YEAR'S BIGGEST BLOCKBUSTER STORY! It's not every day that popular music is made available for sale.

Linda: All those people who have been going without Beatles music!

Stephen: Why spend several minutes ripping your Beatles CDs to MP3 when you can pay $1.29 per song to own them again?

Linda: Okay, LL Cool J has returned to introduce "Hey, Soul Sister," the song for which I need even MORE asterisks. But that's just because of my own comments. And watching this performance, I bet that guy is so sick of playing the ukulele.

Stephen: The resurgence of Train is absolutely incredible to me for some reason. What, Tonic didn't put out an album last year?

Linda: MWA HA HA! Train Guy does not actually have possession of that high note. That is a problem. He has renamed his own song "Hrrm Soul Sister."

Stephen: Remember The Calling? They had a huge hit called "Wherever You Will Go," and EVERY time it came on, I'd say, "This sucks. Who is this?" I am going to have to rename that phenomenon "The Train Effect."

Linda: I remember that. Whenever you hear "Wheeze Soul Sister," you will have to do it again.

Stephen: I just got a press release notifying me that a long-lost Mr. Mister album is coming out at long last. I assume that's ALSO a product of The Train Effect. So... thanks, Train!

Linda: I'm working on the words "long-lost Mr. Mister album." How did they know it was lost?

Stephen: Seriously. Also, Train Guy has an absolutely massive head. So there's that.

Linda: And now: Hayley Williams of Paramore.

Stephen: Hayley Williams of Paramore!


Stephen: Susan Boyle? Susan Boyle?

Stephen: HA HA HA HA HA HA! They said "a career-making milestone," is this category.

Stephen: Milli Vanilli. Marc Cohn.

Linda: Wait, Justin Bieber? Good gravy, the nomination period is so long ago.

Stephen: Isn't Justin Bieber like 30 now?

Linda: Nominees: Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons, and Esperanza Spalding.

Stephen: Esperanza Spalding! Good for her.

Linda: Several of those are good!

Linda: Bieber! Bieber! BIEBER BIEBER BIEBER!

Linda: He's giving an acceptance speech for his nomination.

Stephen: I feel like Florence and the Machine played at last year's Grammys. Or was that the MTV Video Music Awards? I feel like that album came out many years ago.

Linda: And now, Miranda Lambert will perform.

Linda: Adam Lambert's aunt! Not really.

Linda: That would be the best episode of Who Do You Think You Are? ever, though.

Stephen: Miranda Lambert is good. I feel like the Grammys occasionally do right by country music, the Zac Brown Band notwithstanding. I wonder whether they'll slather awards all over Jamey Johnson, as they should .

Stephen: Punctuation is not my strong suit tonight.

Linda: I know you still have Chicken Fried Post-Traumatic Stress.

Stephen: At least they dedicate that song to the troops.

Linda: Poor troops.

Stephen: David Allan Coe totally forgot the troops in "You Never Even Call Me By My Name."

Linda: Well, and they don't even get a mention in "Hey, Soul Sister," so that's half of the music played all year.

Stephen: So, once again, as I always do at these things, I have to point out that the Grammys DESPERATELY need to find a way to stop rewarding albums that came out a hundred years ago. I think nominating Cee Lo is an attempt to freshen up, but still.

Linda: Agreed.

Linda: As I think I agreed last year. And possibly the year before that.

Stephen: That said, is it shocking that Susan Boyle wasn't nominated for Best New Artist?

Linda: At the Grammys? I don't think so.

Linda: I mean, I understand her album sold, but I don't think she's that kind of artist, maybe?

Stephen: I'm not saying she SHOULD have been nominated. But I have to say, I kind of expected her to be rewarded for all those sales from around this time last year.

Linda: Yeah, that's fair.

Stephen: So far, have they nominated anything completely, nauseatingly stupid?

Linda: I don't think so. It's early, though.

Stephen: That's right! Twenty-nine minutes into the show, we've done... two categories? I'm so glad we're doing this.

Linda: This is the best use of our time since last year's Grammys.

Stephen: I think there was more to report in the VMAs, in which there was nothing whatsoever to report.

Linda: Did we watch the VMAs? I seriously don't remember.

Stephen: I'm pretty sure! I seem to recall Taylor Swift forgiving Kanye West's sins.

Linda: Did we just talk about that afterwards, though?

Linda: Seriously, I'm losing my mind.

Stephen: I swear we live-blogged it, but maybe we didn't. There was a lot going on in September. Maybe we just tweeted it. We did! We talked about it on Pop Culture Happy Hour.

Linda: We are sad.

Linda: Anyway, BIEBER!

Linda: Justin Bieber is appearing remotely from London, where he is in concert, I guess.

Stephen: Okay, again: This is a product of how many of these things we wind up watching. But doesn't it seem like we've seen footage of Justin Bieber on every awards show since he was a toddler?

Linda: It does. We did see him on something, didn't we? I'm just enjoying listening to this song, which contains more cliches than a Phil Collins ballad, which is really saying something.

Stephen: His favorite girl is YOU, Linda.

Linda: I like how he has a guitar-playing stunt double on stage with him, and it doesn't hurt him at all.

Linda: Hey, it's Stevie Wonder!

Linda: Announcing Album Of The Year!

Stephen: "Here are the amazing artists who have won Album Of The Year. Soon to possibly be joined by Katy Perry."

Linda: "Here are some albums that may or may not be nominated." I find that a weird thing to include.

Linda: Wait, Lady Gaga? NOW?

Stephen: It came out late in 2009. I think November 1 is the cut-off.

Stephen: Arcade Fire, huh?

Stephen: Eminem.

Stephen: Lady Antebellum.

Stephen: Lady Gaga.

Stephen: Katy Perry. Good heavens.

Linda: Again, as last year, there is no real dinosaur in this category as there often used to be.

Linda: More commercials!

Stephen: Not to suggest that he's a dinosaur, but they suggested that Herbie Hancock could have been nominated and wasn't. As recently as a few years ago, he would have been a slam-dunk. They're trying to youthen these things up, for sure.

Linda: Yeah, I guess. I'm pretty sure it's hopeless.

Stephen: BUT AGAIN, if you REALLY want to make the Grammys more relevant, people, have everyone vote online for things that only came out during this calendar year. Cut off everything else. No nominations for singles from ancient albums.

Linda: I believe there's still something left from Graceland.

Stephen: Metallica's black album might have a B-side that hasn't won a Grammy.

Linda: They can dream.

Stephen: They really are trying to freshen these things up, though: Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons, Ray LaMontagne, Esperanza Spalding... That qualifies as new blood, if you're the Grammys.

Linda: Oh, definitely. More than usual. I will say: Again, I feel like an old person for making this complaint, but I CANNOT BELIEVE how many commercials are in this thing.

Stephen: Well, at least they have PACKED this show with content.

Linda: SEVERAL categories!

Stephen: Train! Bieber! 15 or 20 nominees!

Linda: Well, it had been 24 hours since "Hey, Soul Sister" was performed in prime time, so.

Stephen: It was probably on The Early Show this morning, though.

Linda: That's true.

Linda: And I realize my endless repetitions of how much I'm tired of that song are becoming ironic.

Linda: And now: B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars!

Stephen: TWO performances by Bruno Mars? Has he been nominated for anything yet? Somewhere just off stage, Maxwell is cracking his knuckles menacingly.

Linda: It's a Bruno Mars world, man.

Stephen: We're just bloggin' in it!

Linda: Remember doing the Oscars for like four hours? That felt way shorter than this.

Stephen: I realize I'm sitting on my couch with my laptop — EXACTLY as I was doing when Survivor was on only two hours ago — but I feel like the last 45 minutes have aged me, just a little.

Stephen: B.o.B. stole those glasses from the old lady in those Old Navy commercials.

Linda: Yes.

Linda: Craig Ferguson! Eeeee!

Stephen: Love him.

Linda: Best Female Country Vocal Performance, for some reason, is getting a big announcement.

Stephen: An excuse to nominate Taylor Swift in prime time, I guess.

Linda: And Craig says!

Linda: Jewel.

Stephen: JEWEL?!

Linda: Miranda Lambert.

Linda: LeAnn Rimes.

Linda: Carrie Underwood.

Linda: Gretchen Wilson.


Stephen: No Taylor Swift?

Stephen: JINX!

Linda: Did she have anything in the nomination period?

Stephen: Maybe the new one missed the window?

Linda: Yeah, that's quite possible. Okay, Record Of The Year!

Stephen: They need to move that window. Dude, "Empire State Of Mind" came out when I was a young, young man. There's no WAY that should be eligible now.

Linda: Nominees … B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars.

Linda: Eminem and Rihanna.

Linda: Cee Lo.

Linda: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.

Linda: Lady Antebellum.

Stephen: Lady Antebellum will win.

Linda: Very possible. Hey, in the audience, it's Cee Lo!

Stephen: I do love Cee Lo.

Linda: Cee Lo is very happy.

Stephen: Commercials!

Stephen: I'm still mystified by "Empire State Of Mind." That song was on every Best Songs Of 2009 list! Wasn't that, like, the summer jam of 2009? But I still say Lady Antebellum will win, and everyone will be shocked. SHOCKED!

Linda: Yeah.

Stephen: It's far and away the most adult-oriented nominee in this category, and here's a news flash: Grammy voters are, to put it euphemistically, adults.

Linda: Yeah, that's very true. Hey, LL Cool J is congratulating Miranda Lambert!

Stephen: Neil Portnow! Will he lecture us about piracy, or wait until February?

Stephen: We'll have to wait!

Linda: Well, that brings us to the end of the Grammys concert. Apparently, Eminem and Cee Lo had good years.

Stephen: And... an encore performance by B.o.B.! That's a lotta B.o.B. in this hour. But I will say that, when LL Cool J promised "an encore performance," I was bracing for Train.

Linda: Or a third run-through from Bruno Mars.

Stephen: Eminem really did have a good year — he had TWO massive hits in 2010, and I didn't necessarily see that coming after his previous album, which I despised.

Stephen: Of course, in one year's time, we will be discussing My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Linda: Of course. This is the weirdly Kanye-free moment.

Stephen: It's weird, because this is the time of year when folks like me yammer on-air about the year in music, and that means talking about Kanye West. But when it's time for the Grammys, it's like, "Ooh, no. That'll have to wait for THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE DAYS."

Linda: No, sure. It's a very strange decision to stagger it so far.

Stephen: So there we go! The Grammys have honored some massive hit-makers, and also some artists who provide accessible entry points into genres many people find scary. BREAKING.

Linda: I know that we find ourselves shocked. We will be back, of course, in February, to deal with this spectacle itself.

Stephen: Oh, that will be marvelous. I hope that when that happens, we look back on this moment and think, "Wow, Stephen is going to be so excited when the Packers win the Super Bowl."

Linda: That seems unlikely.

Stephen: Sigh. Hey, people should listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour, and also follow us on Twitter. And we should go to sleep!

Linda: We really should. But I'm sure we can discuss it all again tomorrow.

Stephen: I can't wait.