It's music's big night, the 2009 Grammy awards. A chance to set aside egos and recognize the finest artistic achievements the recording industry has had to offer during the past year.
It's also time to see big stars wear some truly weird outfits, to witness crazy musical pairings and maybe win some loot in the office pool tomorrow morning.
This year's Grammy awards is jam-packed with superstar performers (U2, Paul McCartney, Radiohead, Coldplay, Kanye West), but of the artists nominated in the major categories, nobody seems like a certified shoo-in. In other words, it's anybody's game to win or lose.
In fact, the greatest suspense surrounding this year's show is whether Coldplay, who are being sued by Joe Satriani for plagiarism, will walk away with their arms loaded with trophies. Lawsuits and awards ceremonies make interesting bedfellows.
Uh-oh...looks like it's showtime. Let's take our seat.
The 2009 Grammy awards
8:00 U2 are up first with Get On Your Boots. The Edge is rockin' the lumberjack flannel like it's 1992. Meanwhile, Bono is sporting eyeliner. But the song kicks and the band is hungry, like they've got a big album coming out or something.
8:05 Whitney HoustonJennifer Hudson gets the hardware in this category. Hey, that's nice - she's been through a lot this year. Still, why she's wearing a lobster bib is beyond me.
8:08 What the hell is The Rock doing giving a speech? Somebody please tell me he's not master of ceremonies? He achieves something interesting though: his jokes manage to be bad even before he says them. He just said something about Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl playing together and called them The Beatle Fighters. Comic genius, folks.
8:11 Justin Timberlake and Al Green are dueting - these pairings are headache-inducing - and the Reverend is schooling the young 'un big-time. Sorry, Justin, you can talk all you want about how you learned all you know about soul from Al Green, but that doesn't mean he's taught you everything he knows. (Oh - nice shot of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss almost smooching.)
8:20 The Mentalist guy from TV introduced Coldplay, but they're nowhere to be seen, just Chris Martin singing a song that doesn't sound like Joe Satriani wrote it. Chris is wearing one of those annoying stage outfits. Is he trying out for the cast of Les Miserables? Wait a minute...is that Jay-Z? Oh, no, another duet. 'Cause when I think rap, I think Chris Martin.
Whoops - Coldplay are out, and they're playing that song. You know the one...the one that would sound good with a guitar solo. Lots of shots of Chris Martin's navel for some inexplicable reason.
8:30 Carrie Underwood, a country singer, is on stage, wearing an Ann Margaret cast-off from the '70s and singing a not-good song that sounds this-close to heavy metal. Because when you make it big in country you immediately have to prove you're not country. But she's got a guy in the band playing the banjo. So she's a little bit country and little bit...No, even I can't finish that line. Wow, she's got some legs though, and behind her is a major babe playing shred guitar.
8:33 Brenda Lee gets the kind of award they give you after you've been dead for a while, only she's still alive, so I have no idea what this award is all about. Neither do Sheryl Crow and LeAnn Rimes, the presenters. Sheryl must have lost a bet to somebody with the godawful dress she's wearing. Time for a drink or three.
8:41 Song Of The Year time. Duffy is presenting with Al Green. Al's not too smooth with the teleprompter. Oh my! Coldplay win. Drummer Will Champion makes a tepid joke about stealing...the Sgt Pepper outfits from Paul McCartney. I thought he was going to say something very different for a second. Joe Satriani and his attorney must be speed-dialing each other right now.
8:44 Kid Rock is performing before he heads back to the Waffle House to get his ass handed to him again. He's trying waaaaay too hard to be a Rock And Roll Jesus. He just segued into Sweet Home Alabama - oh, wait, it's that song that samples Skynyrd. Now he's doing the Rock And Roll Jesus song. Why is he allowed to play what feels like an entire set?
8:54 Babe alert! Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift are dueting. They're young, cute, charming and serving up more clams than an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet. Which proves one thing: they're really singing live.
8:59 Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are picking up an award. As he's talking, she's undressing him with her eyes. Seeing as he's, what, 20 years older than her, it's kind of weird.
9:10 The Jonas Brothers...with, WTF?! Stevie Wonder? OK, whoever thought up these pairings needs to have his car keyed in the parking lot. The Jonas Brothers are young and work hard at what they do, but c'mon, they're three unfunky white kids from Wycoff, New Jersey. And they're singing Superstition! Oh vodka, where are you?
9:15 Blink-182 just announced they're back together to what can only be described as raging apathy. Well, well...Coldplay just got the award for Best Rock Album. But shouldn't an album actually 'rock' to get Best Rock Album? Just a thought.
9:23 Katy Perry! Va-va-voom! She kissed a girl - and I liked it. In fact, I like everything about her set. Read that line again, it's a knee-slapper. Nice shot of The Jonas Brothers looking very confused. "Wait...she kissed a girl? But she's a girl. I don't get it."
9:30 Adele just won Best New Artist. She seems truly surprised, ready to cry even. Hopefully, she won't suffer the Best New Artist curse.
9:37 Everybody's favorite country artist Morgan Freeman introduces Kenny Chesney. Chesney sings a very non-country ballad (I hear violins and a harpsicord), but since he's wearing a cowboy hat, I guess it's 'country.'
9:40 Record Of The Year Time. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - I'm sensing a sweep. Plant just mentioned 'Led Zeppelin' and the crowd went nuts. Alison Krauss went to say something and got cut off. That's what happens to people who weren't in Led Zeppelin.
9:49 An extremely pregnant MIA is performing with Kanye West, Usher and Jay-Z. I hope a doctor is backstage: MIA looks ready to go into labor any moment.
9:55 Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl time. All right! They're doing I Saw Her Standing There. At 66, Macca gets the place more pumped than performers half his age. Grohl is eating his drums, he's so excited. Ladies and gentlemen, most kick-ass number of the night.
10:06 Because nothing ever goes right in his life, John Mayer just beat out Paul McCartney for Best Pop Male Vocal. Some guys have all the luck.
10:19 Gwyneth Paltrow, wearing a skimpy little glittery thing, introduces "an utterly brilliant band" - but she means Radiohead, who are accompanied by a marching band. Normally, this would be cheesy, but Radiohead could be joined by a motor boat and be stunning. The crowd is suitably awestruck. Wonder if Chris Martin got in his woman's face for calling another band "brilliant"?
10:29 Justin Timberlake and TI team up for a overwrought ballad-rap duet. Bathroom break. I come back and they're still at it, but they have a bunch of kids bucket drumming. I'm rooting for the buckets.
10:35 The president of the RIAA is giving a very long speech, proving one very important thing: I timed that bathroom break all wrong.
10:38 Smokey Robinson is a legend who has produced some of the greatest records of all time. He also has a truly horrendous hair weave.
10:47 Neil Diamond had his first Number 1 album this year, so of course he comes out and sings Sweet Caroline, which came out in 1969. Neil, I love you, buddy, but you're starting to look like David Copperfield when you sing. That's not a good thing.
10:55 Pretty cool tribute to Bo Diddley. John Mayer isn't half bad on the guitar, I'll give him that. But BB King chews it up with one note.
11:00 Everybody's favorite hip-hop artist Gary Sinese introduces Lil Wayne, who is joined by Allan Toussaint and Alan Thicke. Lil Wayne and Thicke, rapping and singing about New Orleans, go together like peanut butter and tuna fish, but when Toussaint takes off on his own, the joint jumps.
11:09 Best Rap Album goes to Gary Sinese! No, I'm just getting punchy. The Grammy goes to Lil Wayne, who kung fu kicks his way on stage. He thanks God, who is very relieved, I'm sure, that Nas didn't win.
11:18 Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, backed up by T Bone Burnett, are turning up the heat. This is music that has its own pulse, a kind of spooky energy that is spellbinding. And I want T Bone Burnett's guitar and amps.
11:25 Green Day present Album Of The Year to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Krauss is giddy and doesn't quite know what to say, but Plant is cucumber cool. He's loving this success and savoring the moment. I almost expect him to yell, "And Led Zeppelin are over!" but that message seems to have gotten through to everybody.
So how did MusicRadar do with its 2009 Grammy predictions? Some right, some wrong - a bit like the awards ceremony itself, we guess...
2009 Grammy awards - full list of winners
Album of the Year: Raising Sand - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Rap Album: Tha Carter III - Lil Wayne
Male Pop Vocal Performance: Say - John Mayer
Record of the Year: Please Read The Letter - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
New Artist: Adele
Rock Album: Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends - Coldplay
Pop Collaboration With Vocals: Rich Woman - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Song of the Year: Viva La Vida - Coldplay
Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: Stay - Sugarland
R&B Album: Jennifer Hudson - Jennifer Hudson
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Rick Rubin
Producer of the Year, Classical: David Frost
Female Pop Vocal Performance: Chasing Pavements - Adele
Pop Vocal Album: Rockferry - Duffy
Pop Instrumental Performance: I Dreamed There Was No War - Eagles
Pop Instrumental Album:
Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Viva La Vida - Coldplay
Alternative Music Album: In Rainbows - Radiohead
Solo Rock Vocal Performance: Gravity - John Mayer,
Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
Hard Rock Performance: Wax Simulacra - The Mars Volta
Metal Performance: My Apocalypse - Metallica
Rock Instrumental Performance: Peaches En Regalia - Zappa Plays Zappa
Rock Song: Girls in Their Summer Clothes - Bruce Springsteen
Rap Solo Performance: A Milli - Lil Wayne
Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: Swagga Like Us - Jay-Z and T.I. featuring Kanye West and Lil Wayne
Rap/Sung Collaboration: American Boy - Estelle featuring Kanye West
Rap Song: Lollipop - Dwayne Carter, Darius Harrison, James Scheffer, Stephen Garrett and Rex Zamor,
Country Song: Stay - Sugarland
Female Country Vocal Performance: Last Name - Carrie Underwood,
Male Country Vocal Performance: Letter to Me - Brad Paisley,
Country Collaboration with Vocals: Killing the Blues - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss,
Country Instrumental Performance: Cluster Pluck - Brad Paisley, James Burton, Vince Gill, John Jorgenson, Albert Lee, Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert and Steve Wariner
R&B Song: Miss Independent - Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen and Shaffer Smith
Contemporary R&B Album: Growing Pains - Mary J. Blige
Female R&B Vocal Solo: Superwoman - Alicia Keys
Male R&B Vocal Solo: Miss Independent - Ne-Yo
R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Stay With Me (By the Sea), Al Green featuring John Legend
Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: You've Got the Love I Need - Al Green featuring Anthony Hamilton
Urban/Alternative Performance: Be OK - Chrisette Michele featuring will.i.am
Dance Recording: Harder Better Faster Stronger - Daft Punk
Electronic Dance Album: Alive 2007 - Daft Punk
Bluegrass Album: Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947 - Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder
Traditional Blues Album: One Kind Favor - B.B. King
Contemporary Blues Album: City That Care Forgot - Dr. John and The Lower 911
New Age Album: Peace Time - Jack DeJohnette
Contemporary Jazz Album: Randy in Brasil - Randy Brecker
Jazz Vocal Album: Loverly - Cassandra Wilson
Jazz Instrumental Solo: BE-BOP - Terence Blanchard,
Jazz Instrumental Album Individual or Group: The New Crystal Silence - Chick Corea and Gary Burton
Large Jazz Ensemble Album: Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard - The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
Latin Jazz Album: Song for Chico - Arturo O'Farrill and The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra
Latin Pop Album: La Vida ... Es Un Ratico - Juanes
Latin Rock or Alternative Album: 45 - Jaguares
Latin Urban Album: Los Extraterrestres - Wisin y Yandel
Tropical Latin Album: Senor Bachata - Jose Feliciano
Regional Mexican Album: Amor, Dolor y Lagrimas - Musica Ranchera
Tejano Album: Viva La Revolucion - Ruben Ramos and The Mexican Revolution
Norteno Album: Raices - Los Tigres Del Norte
Banda Album: No Es De Madera - Joan Sebastian
Traditional Folk Album: At 89 - Pete Seeger
Contemporary Folk/Americana Album: Raising Sand - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (Rounder)
Native American Music Album: Come to Me Great Mystery: Native American Healing Songs - Various Artists)
Hawaiian Music Album: Ikena - Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho
Zydeco or Cajun Music Album:
Engineering Album, Classical: Traditions and Transformations: Sounds of Silk Road Chicago - David Frost, Tom Lazarus and Christopher Willis
Reggae Album: Jah Is Real - Burning Spear
Traditional World Music Album: Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu - Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Contemporary World Music Album: Global Drum Project - Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju and Giovanni Hidalgo
Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: Juno - Various Artists
Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Television or Other Visual Media: The Dark Knight
Polka Album: Let the Whole World Sing - Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra
Gospel Performance: Get Up - Mary Mary
Gospel Song: Help Me Believe - Kirk Franklin
Rock or Rap Gospel Album: Alive and Transported - TobyMac
Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album: Thy Kingdom Come - CeCe Winans
Southern, Country, Bluegrass Gospel: Lovin' Life - Gaither Vocal Band
Traditional Gospel Album: Down in New Orleans - The Blind Boys of Alabama
Contemporary R&B Gospel Album: The Fight of My Life - Kirk Franklin
Classical Album: Weill: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny - James Conlon, conductor
Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: Down to Earth - WALL-E - Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Musical Show Album: In the Heights - Kurt Deutsch, Alex Lacamoire, Andres Levin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joel Moss and Bill Sherman, producers; Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer/lyricist
Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Story Telling): An Inconvenient Truth (Al Gore) - Beau Bridges, Cynthia Nixon and Blair Underwood
Musical Album for Children: Here Come the 123s - They Might Be Giants
Spoken Word Album Children: Yes to Running! Bill Harley Live - Bill Harley
Comedy Album: It's Bad for Ya - George Carlin
Instrumental Composition: The Adventures of Mutt - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - John Williams
Instrumental Arrangement: Define Dancing - WALL-E Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman
Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s): Here's That Rainy Day, Nan Schwartz
Engineered Album, Non-Classical: Consolers of the Lonely - Joe Chiccarelli, Vance Powell and Jack White III, engineers
Remixed Recording: Electric Feel (Justice Remix) - Justice
Surround Sound Album: Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Night on Bald Mountain; Prelude to Khovanshchina - Michael Bishop
Opera Recording: Weill: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny - James Conlon, conductor
Orchestral Performance: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 - Bernard Haitink, conductor Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (With Orchestra): Schoenberg/Sibelius: Violin Concertos - Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor; Hilary Hahn
Instrumental Soloist Performance (Without Orchestra): Piano Music of Salonen, Stucky, and Lutoslawski - Gloria Cheng
Chamber Music Performance: Carter, Elliott: String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5 - Pacifica Quartet
Small Ensemble Performance: Spotless Rose: Hymns to the Virgin Mary - Charles Bruffy, conductor; Phoenix Chorale
Classical Vocal Performance: Corigliano: Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan - Hila Plitmann
Classical Contemporary Composition: Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan, - John Corigliano
Classical Crossover Album: Simple Gifts - The King's Singers
Short Form Music Video: Pork and Beans - Weezer, Mathew Cullen,
Long Form Music Video:
Recording Package: Death Magnetic - Bruce Duckworth, Sarah Moffat and David Turner
Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: In Rainbows - Radiohead - Stanley Donwood, Mel Maxwell and Christiaan Munro
Album Notes: Kind of Blue: 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition - Francis Davis
Historical Album: Art of Field Recording Volume I: Fifty Years of Traditional American Music Documented by Art Rosenbaum - Steven Lance Ledbetter and Art Rosenbaum, compilation producers