Grammy Nominations Special: The Best and Worst Performances

There was a time when the Grammy nominations were announced at an untelevised, clothes optional ceremony conducted by the side of Frank Sinatra’s pool. Actually, that’s almost certainly not true. But there’s no doubt the nominations announcement has become a bigger and bigger deal. Earlier this evening, the countdown to the Grammy Awards—which can be seen live on CBS on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 at 8 p.m. ET/PT—began with a TV special featuring performances by host LL Cool J, Nick Jonas, the Black Eyed Peas, Sugarland, and Maxwell. But who deserved a trophy for their efforts? And who required considerable effort just to keep watching?

THE GOOD

Sugarland
Good heavens, Jennifer Nettles has got a big voice—every glorious, country-bluesy inch of which was on display during the band’s rendition of “Coming Home.” One quibble? It was probably a mistake to have the backing choir wander on halfway through. I can’t have been the only one who initially assumed they were lost guests who had taken a wrong turn on the way back from the restrooms.

Maxwell
The resurgent R&B star paid tribute to Michael Jackson by performing the Thriller ballad “The Lady in My Life.” Though his voice wavered at times, I wouldn’t overly disagree with presenter Smokey Robinson’s later declaration that he did a “good job.” (Frankly, who am I to disagree with Smokey Robinson about anything?) And the performance did seem a fitting tip of the hat to the late Grammy favorite. The trailer I saw during an ad break for the forthcoming Jackson brothers reality TV show? Not so much.

Nick Jonas and the Administration
It seems like only yesterday that young Nick Jonas was hanging out with his brothers. But actually, it was today! Kevin and Joe were on hand to introduce their bro, who performed “Who I Am” with competence, confidence, and the look of someone suffering from extreme constipation. That’s right: John Mayer should be worried.

THE NOT SO GOOD

LL Cool J
All the ladies love him. And he apparently loves every song released during the Grammys’ eligibility period, as LL demonstrated with an elaborate rap-montage thingie that featured, among other things, a snatch of “Poker Face,” the lyric “I’m the king like Leon,” and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. Alas, the track ended before the sharks from Deep Blue Sea could make an appearance. Was it kind of embarrassing? Yes. Was it funnier than presenter George Lopez’s subsequent joke about Coldplay being Mexican? Also yes.

The Black Eyed Peas
I’m disinclined to be overly harsh about the Black Eyed Peas, as I once spent a delightful afternoon at the horse races with will.i.am and crew. (Long story. Actually, it isn’t: I once went to the horse races with the Black Eyed Peas.) Suffice to say, they appeared to have put far more effort into choosing their natty threads than planning the performances of “I Gotta Feeling,” which bookended the show. In fact, during the first run through of the song, they almost immediately ceded the spotlight to a video of the lyrics being recited by other stars (including, unless someone slipped me some peyote earlier in the evening, 50 Cent and wrestling announcer Michael Buffer). Which was a nice idea—and it was a nice idea when Nickelback did it a couple of years ago, too.

So what did you think of the show? Are these prime-time specials a fun way to announce the Grammy nods? Or do you wish they’d do away with all the hoopla and just release all of the nominations at once?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
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Susan Boyle scores year’s biggest sales week by far
Wiz Khalifa: Deal or No Deal, his buzz is growing
Lupe Fiasco raps over Radiohead’s ‘National Anthem’
Nick Jonas leaves the nest for solo tour

Photo credit: LL Cool J: Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com; Nick Jonas: Kent Miller/PR Photos

Comments (45 total) Add your comment
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  • sam

    This show was pretty bad and announced very few nominations. Maxwell picked the most obscure MJ song possible and Nick Jonas also sounded like he looked. Just announce the nominees already.

    • d.

      Lady in my Life… Obscure? Are you kidding me?

    • lolz

      it was on thriller. IT’S MAD OBSCURE YA’LLS.

      • Sudarashan

        please psalee pick me psalee its my best friends bday on the 24 of october and she loves joe jonas i have known her since i was two this would be the best present i could ever give her psalee!!!!!!!

    • Tariq

      Aww, they were all soooo cute <3 the songs were AMA-zing.. they fit perfect for the Video. I was wondnrieg who sanged the second song? was that JB? Keep up the GREAT WORK please make more like this!

  • me

    i like it the old way better

  • Sarah

    Sugarland’s performance was really the only thing I tuned in for..and honestly, they delivered, as usual. The rest? pretty forgetable.

    • Nabihah

      This is perfect. A woman from my grad pgrarom recently commented, after I explained how I hadn’t made much progress in my research for the last 2 months due to the ridiculously large number of holidays, sick days, snow days, and many other days that involved the kids being home from daycare & preschool, But at least you’ve had lots of time to relax. I think it goes without saying that she does not have, nor has she ever had much experience with, small children. Perhaps if I gave her this post as reading material, she might re-evaluate her understanding of how relaxing it is to spend time with one’s small children.alejnab4s last [type] ..

  • charles

    lol, your nickelback comment about the black eyed peas, right on the friggin’ money.

  • Maxwell was fantastic. Everybody else was not so hot. I Gotta Feeling is so overexposed, the Jonas performance wasn’t good, and Jennifer Nettles oversings like I don’t know what. She has a spectacular voice when she controls it (and her accent), though.

  • Pamela

    I didn’t even watch! I’m so tired of a 19 year old getting all the Awards, when First she hasn’t earned them! second ,She can’t sing! and ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR! Give me a Break!! singing your Journal and being FIFTEEN! doesn’t get you Every award on the show,The Mega talents that can really sing in their LIVE performances.. Taylor screams, off key and skips around the stage, throwing tantrums and form rubber chairs..and talks to the music.. She isn’t Country either! Let’s Face it without the Teeny Boppers voting for her that are tone deaf as well.. nothing would be given to this 20 year old in 2 weeks.. then what is she going to talk or scream off key about?..

    better get a vocal coach.. cause she can’t sing.. Female Vocalist of the year, Come on! get real!!!!What a Joke these shows are getting to be such a JOKE.

    • missj

      you should know, fan votes dont get you grammy’s

      • missj

        and you seem to know alot about her to not like her, i haad no clue when her b-day was and i tolerate her just fine

    • Elizabeth

      Pamela – take a chill pill, it will be OK…

    • Irene

      Pamela, I couldn’t agree with you more. The people Ms Swift competed with for these awards are so much more talented. But, these award shows have become nothing more than a joke. It’s whoever spends the most $ advertising / marketing to the masses that get the votes. It hasn’t got much to do with talent anymore and hasn’t for quite some time. I suggest you do what I do — don’t watch. You’ll live longer that way.

      • Amjad

        - That’s hilarious :) By the way, I raelly love your eye for photos and words. I’ve blogged about some of your work too, hope you don’t mind me using your photos on my blog. I’ll be following, keep blogging please!

    • Jes

      Thank You. Finally someone who agrees that Taylor Swift is so overrated. Shes pleasant, makes nice pop country musis. But all these accolades are ridiculous. I saw her sing live once and she was so off key it made my ears hurt.

    • lolz

      i hope taylor thanks kanye when she wins a grammy bc he is half the reason anyone even knows who she is.

  • NYLA

    Actually SAM, the song Maxwell picked is considered to be one of MJ’s R&B classics. Maxwell is an R&B artist so it fit him well. And if you listen to udult urban radio (see R&B stations) you will hear “Lady in my life” every night during the quiet storm. And it has always been played on R&B stations long before his death.

  • anony

    nicks performance was amazing!

  • ChrisConcert

    Sorry Jonas Bros Fans but Nick sucked a big fat one. I just don’t get it.

    • Tina

      Aint’t that the truth. He was terrible. Voice was scratchy and it sound like he was straining on top of it. The little growl he does did him no favors.

  • T

    I definitely tuned in to hear Sugarland perform – and I was so excited that they sang my favorite song off their new holiday album, “Gold and Green.” Jennifer Nettles does have a ridiculous voice – love, love, love her. “Coming Home” was written by Kristian and Jen, and it’s just a big ol gospel-sounding, rich, wonderful Christmas song. The whole cd has quickly wearing out in my cd player because I’ve been playing it so often!!

  • TONY

    Sugarland was the best peformance by far. Nick Jonas was embarrassingly awful.

    • Bruna

      What fun for everyone! The smiels on the girls faces say it all I wish I could have been there to make the memories with all of you. I might could have paid for a braid or two !!Love you all -Mimi

  • Leslie

    Sam: “The Lady In My Life” wasn’t obscure. It was a big R&B hit for MJ. And isn’t it better that he recreated something that doesn’t get played as much, than doing ‘Human Nature” for the 80th time?

  • t

    i dont really like black eyed peas that much but love fergi.

  • Joitou2

    He was fantastic on the grammys nominations. I am so happy for him. His song, Who I Am is wonderful. God Bless.

    • Joitou2

      Nick Jonas is who I am speaking of, thanks. :)

      • Sheepypie

        Nick Jonas was awful! It was SO painful! I tried to watch, but I just couldn’t. Ugh. I changed the channel, and didn’t bother changing back to see the rest of the show.

  • DT

    Is nobody outraged at the Jackson brothers trying to make a come-back thru a reality show? Talk about media taking advantage of Michael Jackson’s death? This to me seems the lowest blow of all. And from his own family. You know Joe Jackson was behind this horrible idea.

    • me

      I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s easy to see why Michael distanced himself from the family. Joe Jackson and his brood try to live off of the two successful Jacksons, Michael and Janet.

    • Stefano

      Ollie – Du har nog ingen framtid bland papazarzi dina bilder e4r alldeles ff6r bra. Tidningarna e4r inte vana vid det. Har du ingen gammal Agfa or Zorki du kan ta till ff6r att ne5 ned till deras standard?

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