The Grammys pre-telecast has never exactly been popular viewing. Even the Recording Academy knows that the online broadcast, held at the Nokia Center, is a bit of a snooze. Rebranded this year as the “Premiere Ceremony,” this year’s iteration features about 70 awards and Hunter Hayes as host.
At over 4 hours in length, the Premiere Ceremony is a lot to take in, so we’ve broken it down in manageable chunks and given you what you need to know. (Spoiler alert: the re-branding changed nothing; it’s still the same long show, packed with performers you’ve never heard of, categories you didn’t know existed, and winners who didn’t show up.)
We already have a couple of multiple-award winners: Jack White, producer Bob Ludwig, jazzman Chick Corea, and gospel stars For King and Country. Some of those names may not capture your attention, but one of Ludwig’s wins should: he shares it with Beyoncé for Best Surround Sound Album.
BEYONCE isn’t the only Album of the Year nominee that took home a production award: Beck’s Morning Phase was tonight’s winner for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, but Beck himself was not a producer on the record, and thus didn’t take home an award.
Pentatonix scored a big win for a cappella music by winning for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella. The YouTube stars’ medley “Daft Punk” went viral last year and has now been honored on music’s biggest night. With Pitch Perfect 2 on the way, a cappella music couldn’t be any bigger right now.
Its ongoing quest for world domination not quite over yet, Frozen took home the award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media, and “Let it Go” won for Best Song Written for Visual Media. It didn’t win for Best Score, though: that honor went to Grand Budapest Hotel, which has some stiff competition for the same award at the Oscars later this month.
Other big-name winners included Tiësto for his “All of Me” remix (Best Remixed Recording), Clean Bandit for “Rather Be” (Best Dance Recording), Carrie Underwood for “Something in the Water” (Best Country Solo Performance), The Band Perry for “Gentle on My Mind (Best Country Duo/Group Performance).
More: Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett for Cheek to Cheek (Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album), Pharrell Williams for “Happy” (Best Music Video). “Say Something” was the Best Pop Group/Duo Performance, “Lazaretto” was the Best Rock Performance, and “Ain’t It Fun” was the Best Rock Song.
Clean Bandit “Rather Be”
In one of the night’s big upsets, St. Vincent won Best Alternative Music Album. She was the first woman to do so since 1990, when Sinéad O’Connor won – but refused – the award.
Kendrick Lamar, who was controversially snubbed last year despite seven nominations, won his first two awards for “i” in the Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song categories.
Kendrick Lamar “i”
John Williams won his 22nd career Grammy for The Book Thief (Best Instrumental Composition). This ties him with Stevie Wonder as the 6th biggest winner in history. Chick Corea won his 22nd over an hour later, adding himself to the 6th-place huddle.
Accepting Best World Album for Eve, Angélique Kidjo gave one of the night’s best speeches: “Music is the weapon of peace… As artists we have a role to play in the stability of this world… Women of Africa, you rock.”
The most uncomfortable presenter was easily John Waters, who joked about starting a rap career and lip-synching the winners names. Unlike Hunter Hayes, who was visibly nervous and was working hard to fight the discomfort, Waters (nominated for Spoken Word Album), milked his controversial and bizarre persona as much as was appropriate for the setting.
Pre-show performances were wonderfully varied as usual, with Ana Tijoux having the biggest breakthrough moment. (Last year’s big pre-show moment came from La Cuchara, proving that Spanish-language performers are the all-stars of the pre-telecast.) Angie Fisher’s performance of nominated song “I.R.S.” was also a powerhouse.
Ana Tijoux “1977”
Despite their exhaustion, the audience was able to muster a well-deserved standing ovation for the winners of Best Music Film (20 Feet from Stardom) after the son of the late Gil Friesen gave an emotional speech.
That wasn’t the only posthumous award: Johnny Winter won for Best Blues Album, while Joan Rivers was honored with Best Spoken Word Album. Rivers’ award was accepted by her famous daughter Melissa. “My mother would have absolutely loved to be here. She loves getting anything,” Rivers said.
“Weird Al” Yankovic unsurprisingly took home Best Comedy Album. We predicted a win for him after an extraordinary marketing campaign made Mandatory Fun one of the biggest albums of his long career. In his speech, he implied once again that the album, which completed his 1982 contract, would be his last.
Weird Al “Word Crimes”