Grammy nominations concert: Who had the best and worst performances?

Grammy-LogoThe Grammy Nominations Concert Live! just aired on CBS. In between nominations and banter from host LL Cool J, we saw performances from Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and other stars. So which performances were award-worthy in themselves, and which ones would we rather forget? After the jump, let’s review the highs and lows.

Katy Perry opened the show with “California Gurls,” a summer hit that I must admit I tired of months ago. Any fans who are still humming “California Gurls” as often today as they were in June no doubt enjoyed Perry’s performance much more. She and her backup dancers certainly seemed full of energy, though her voice was mixed so low on the chorus that she was barely audible over the backing tracks.

Her pop antics couldn’t have been more different from the performance that followed: Bruno Mars, with a simple acoustic version of his smash “Just the Way You Are.” The breakout singer-songwriter required no flashy staging, just an acoustic guitar, a couple of pals, and a string section. It was a perfect showcase for Mars’ understated songwriting chops and supremely sweet vocals.

A bit later, Train belted out “Hey Soul Sister,” another song that saw its expiration date pass long ago. Frequent viewers of televised music events have seen this band give nearly identical performances before, most recently at the American Music Awards the weekend before last. Time for a repertoire readjustment, perhaps?

Miranda Lambert held up country music’s portion of the evening with “Only Prettier.” The smirk she wore throughout her performance wavered between winningly sly and just plain smug. The song was only okay.

LL Cool J had been promising a “special” Justin Bieber performance all night. When Biebs finally appeared on screen, that turned out to mean a fairly standard run through “Favorite Girls.” The presentation was acoustic if you’re feeling charitable, anemic if not. Judging by the screams from the audience, his fans loved it.

Bruno Mars returned to join his buddy B.o.B on their collaboration “Nothin’ On You,” later nominated for Record of the Year. This isn’t exactly a brand-new tune, either, but somehow it felt fresher than some of the others we heard tonight. Maybe it’s just that these guys are such a likable duo, or maybe it’s because genuine love songs that are also massive pop hits are hard to come by these days. Either way, Mars deserves MVP honors for the evening.

Or should that honor go to B.o.B? After the final nominations had been announced, Bobby Ray got a second solo performance. Despite some nimble rap verses, his “Don’t Let Me Fall” is at heart a moody rocker after the model of Coldplay, one of his favorite bands. Playing guitar and crooning his heart out, B.o.B absolutely sold this less-known side of his talents. It was a rare surprise in an otherwise predictable night — at least when it came to the performances.

What did you think? Which performances were the night’s best and worst? Sound off in comments.

More: Eminem, Bruno Mars lead Grammy nominations

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

Comments (55 total) Add your comment
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  • Sade

    Yay I’m so happy for Bruno Mars he’s the best thing to come out of music this year, hopefully next year he’ll get a nod for best new artist too.

    • Keith

      Happy for him. He deserves it. Big talent. Although I will say I bought his album last week and was disappointed. Pretty mediocre. He’s better than that album.

      • Barry

        He needs the money for his defense on cocaine charges.

      • Miss Talk

        @Barry : He’s a reknown songwriter. He wrote Cee-Lo’s “F*%k You”. He has money.

      • Hooligans68

        @Barry…What’s wrong? Is your gf spending too much time listening to Bruno and not paying you any attention? If your comment is any indication of your personality, I don’t blame her one bit. Oh wait, do you even have a gf? ….Stop hating on Bruno!

      • Hooligans68

        I loved Bruno’s album. Every song was different, had great melodies and lyrics. Of course, they were sung well also.

    • Kate

      Can you be nominated for best new artist after you’ve already been nominated in other years? While I don’t put it past the grammy people, that would not make any sense.

    • Phil

      Completely agree, I’ve been championing him here since last winter when “Nothin’ On You” was released…SO SAD that EW has overlooked him as one of their 15 (HAHAHA) Entertainers of The Year in the new issue. Not sure whats up with that, unless they’re rolling out more Entertainers of the Year for the rest of Dec….but if the Men of The Good Wife trump Bruno Mars’ 2010, then perhaps the EW Editors & writers need to get out a bit more on Tuesday Nights!

  • Berlin

    Lady Gaga should have been there to perform. Katy Perry is as disposable as bubble gum pop trash.

    • Nathan

      At least she’s female.

      • anonymous

        So is Justin Bieber, what’s your point?


    Itz all good – be cool – love each other

  • WTF?

    After all these off-kilter live performances, you’d think people would stop booking Katy Perry. There’s got to be someone out there who’s just as pretty and quirky who can provide a more solid delivery than Ms. Perry. Plus, in about one more album, she will be too damn old for the whole schitck she’s relying on.

    • Leah

      agreed. I heard her on something else the other day, maybe it was the victoria’s secreat show? the singing was very poor.

      BOB’s last song was great but his backup singers were distractingly bad.

    • Keith

      She can craft a good pop tune but she is a dreadful singer outside the studio.

    • Kingforaday

      @when you find that artist, let me know. Because it sure ain’t her bff Rihanna and Ke$ha

      • WTF?

        Hehe, I would say Aguilera, but her latest album got such a pox on it, she’s reduced to singing lame songs from the Burlesque soundtrack. Did she get any Grammy noms, BTW?

      • Matteo

        I love the video a lot, but I do wish there woulda been a ltlite more story, or at least something to do with the song. Also, parts of it flash by so fast that it makes me dizzy. But I still LOVE the song, and she looks AMAZING, as always!

  • musiqluvr

    Bruno Mars rocked, too bad he probably will be shut out for any wins this time around. Katy Perry was a travesty and has been a travesty at every live performance I’ve seen her in this year. Her nomination for Album of The Year is an outrage! Sade, Jay-Z, Robyn and a whole host of quality music by real artists should have taken that spot.

    • mark

      totally agree. You could also include Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Black Keys, the Kanye singles, Kris Allen, La Roux…

      • True Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Blue

        Actually, The Black Keys are nominated.

  • Christina

    MIRANDA LAMBERT had the BEST performance. She is a true talent. So REAL. Everyone check out miranda lamberts music.

    • Karrah


    • Alley

      While I like Miranda, I agree her performance was VERY OFF last night. She sounded very twangy and pitchy, and I hated the song. They should have used Carrie Underwood, a much better vocalist. I like Miranda, but not that song.

      • WTF?

        Maybe, but man, I’m on Underwood overload these days. I can’t stroll through the supermarket or turn on the TV without seeing her. Plus, she’s had a glut of country-related performances lately anyways. Miranda Lambert is sort of the anti-Carrie (and Taylor!), and I enjoy her moxie.

      • Christina

        Miranda has a REAL country voice. Its already twangy and raspy. It’s her voice and it makes her unique. Shes better then carrie underwood. Carrie underwood is FAKE and she screams, she doesn’t sing.

  • Jo

    Bruno Mars was the best and even Bieber was good! But Katy Perry and Train were surprisingly flat! Please, Miranda Lambert is good but a tad overrated. I’d rather hear Carrie Underwood. That guy who went last – if that was a B.O.B. person – he was kind of awful.

    • Lisa

      Amen. So glad Carrie’s Temporary Home is nominated for Vocal Performance. It’s absolutely beautiful. Hope to god she gets it, since she was robbed last year when TS’s White Horse won over Carrie’s Just A Dream. ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Outrageous!

  • sam

    Bruno Mars is brilliant. A real singer and songwriter.

    • Redeye

      I totally agree. A wonderful and pure performance, with no gimmicks!! He even changed it up a bit, and he was on key!! His second perfomance with B.o.B. really made me smile. It is nice to see people who can really sing LIVE, when they are not in the studio getting all auto tuned.

      • Hooligans68

        Amen to that! Bruno Mars is out of this world!

  • Swede

    This is the third time I’ve seen Katy Perry in as many weeks and she gets worse every time. How did she get this far in her career????

    • Hooligans68

      She’s a good songwriter and she’s pretty. That would be my guess.

  • MsSuniDaze

    Bruno Mars was fantastic. I also thought B.o.B was great too, and was annoyed they ended the show while he was still singing.
    Train was OK, but that song is so overplayed.
    I didn’t really care for Miranda Lambert though.

  • bg

    At this point “Hey Soul Sister” should be registered as a type of weapon. I would react more negatively to hearing that song one more time, than being threatened with a gun.

    • Kat76

      This comment is perfection…I’d also have to add “California Gurls” to that list. Horrible!

    • Allison


  • Dan

    Miranda Lambert was awful.

    • Christina


  • El Ciccone

    I was pleasantly surprised by Bruno Mars providing 2 of the best performances of the night.

    • Ilybruno

      Bruno Mars delivers on every performance. I am so glad he is getting the accolades because he deserves it. He is true to his music and that shines through when he performs.

  • Ty

    What is up with Country music. I know that Miranda Lambert is NOT the BEST they have. Carrie Underwiood and Reba can sing circles around her and are cinsistant and not a one hit wonder. Her vocals were less than stellar and her song was mundane. NOT a good performance. Underwood is well respected in all genres and should have performed. Country—are you tone deaf and stupid???????

    • Brit

      She’s had the best year of any country artist…that is why she was chosen.

      • lisa

        best year? no, carrie has had the best year as a solo country artist. NO ONE in the past year for that matter topped her with new album. Album sales/singles/tour…etc. were all pretty solid not to mention ALL THREE singles that she wrote went to #1 with cowboy casanova being the FASTEST rising single in 2009. no one has done more then carrie for country music or has had this much success the past year. While this wasn’t carrie’s best year-her worst year is STILL 10 times better then miranda’s “best” year. Miranda’s best doesn’t mean it’s COUNTRY’s best. how sad that people overlook carrie because she’s ALWAYS been consistently on the top as opposed to being around for so long with soso success and then suddenly having ONE top single.

      • Dude

        @ Lisa…while I love Carrie Underwood (own all her CDs), she did not have the best year for a country artist. Did you forget about Taylor Swift?? She’s had the most successful year. I wish Carrie did, I’m not a Tswift fan, but there is no denying she was the biggest this year.

    • Christina


  • Ty

    Spelling is wrong. Should have been Carrie Underwood and she is consistant in her vocals, etc..

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