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The Grammy nominations concert’s Nashville bow went off without a hitch, as LL Cool J and Taylor Swift proved to be more than capable co-hosts and presenters didn’t butcher anyone’s name too badly (remember Avril Lavigne’s tragic mispronunciation of David Bowie in 2003?). What didn’t you see on the broadcast? The Hollywood Reporter had eyes and ears in the audience and backstage. Read on…
1. Like the great coaches, preachers and carnies, Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich’s 10-minute pep rally, where the television veteran gave his well-honed how-important-yout-energy-is-to-tonight’s-telecast speech, could not be stopped.
2. The upper third tier of Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena was blacked and draped out of existence — suddenly, all the unsold tickets disappeared.
3. Taylor Swift was grooving along to everyone, especially Maroon 5. Wouldn’t you know: she’s a pretty good freestyle dancer.
4. People were still picking silvery scraps of paper out of their hair for 15 minutes after confetti cannons showered the audience with a mirror ball-gone-literal effect during Luke Bryan’s Chippendude performance of “I Don’t Want The Night To End.”
5. Like Night at the Roxbury, only with graying hair, local indie label DualTone’s executive team walrus-laughed and body-slammed each other in the back of the GA floor when hearing that the New Artist nominees contained their act the Lumineers.
6. Coincidence? Sheryl Crow was completely removed before presenting the nominees for Record of the Year; no doubt knowing the awkward interpretation of her hit “All I Wanna Do” was about to be delivered by country artist Chris Young.
7. The band Fun. did its part in getting the people up out of their seats and waving their hands for its performance with Janelle Monae.
8. Taylor Swift posed for pictures, signed autographs, hugged and high-fived fans every time she was moved from one position to another.
9. Maroon 5 played for another hour after their final performance of the telecast. In fact, Adam Levine’s little band that could kicked it into high gear once the credits rolled and let the crowd party long after the nominations were announced.
10. Dierks Bentley was spotted in the hallway acting as Nashville’s ambassador to all music. The man who kicked off the show with the Band Perry on Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson” was busy chatting up the performers who’d come into town.
11. Minutes after the broadcast ended, The Lumineers’ Wesley Schultz was still trying to make sense of his band’s nominations, especially the one for Best New Artist. “We’re been working on music for seven or eight years,” he told THR. “It’s hard to say that we’re ‘new’ … We’ve never been represented or promoted in any real way until we put out this record.” Fielding endless texts, the guitarist and vocalist continued, “People listen to a lot of different music. Spotify proves that, iPods prove that, radio stations don’t prove that.”
12. “This is a very surreal feeling,” said Alabama Shakes’ singer Brittany Howard of her band’s three nominations, including best new artist and best rock performance. “I was feeling the memories of where we started and where we are now.”
13. Was Dierks Bentley nervous paying homage to the Man in Black, Johnny Cash? If the country star was, it didn’t show on the stage he shared with the Band Perry. “Kimberly [Perry] and I were texting back and forth for the past week,” Dierks explained later. “We got down here and probably sang it 60 times… We wanted to honor the spirit of the song.” And the bond. “Johnny and June had that special chemistry,” he added.
14. Fun’ frontman Nate Ruess revealed he’s been battling voice issues. “I’ve had more vocal problems than I’ve ever had in the last several days,” he told THR. “Fortunately, my voice worked.” The band is one of four rock acts nominated in the album of the year category. Said guitarist Jack Antonoff: “It feels like alternative music is back. … like a change is coming and we’re really glad to be a part of it. You’ve got Gotye and the Lumineers, it reminds us of the 90s when it was Smashing Pumpkins, Melissa Etheridge and Green Day on the radio.”
15. “Nashville gets an A+,” said Recording Academy president Neil Portnow following the broadcast, which he described as “a test” and “a fresh canvas to paint on.” The city chipped in funds to help bring the Grammys to Nashville and clearly impressed. “The warmth that we felt, the collaboration, cooperation,” he added, “… it was as we hoped in our dreams.”
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