Three-and-a-half hours later, it's all over. No single act dominated -- Mumford & Sons won the night's biggest award; fun., had a nice haul; Black Keys collected plenty of hardware. There wasn't a consensus best performance; everyone wanted it to be Frank Ocean, but he didn't quite make it happen. It was a perfectly serviceable Grammy Awards and it ended on time, so we'll take it.
That ends our live coverage for the night. Check back here in the morning as we recount the evening's most memorable moments.
"Mandolins FTW!" say the people of the Grammys. You may have believed, as our pop music critic Chris Richards did, that fun. was going to sweep this show like that hot guy from Mary Poppins swept those chimneys. Perhaps you felt the year belonged to Frank Ocean. You would not have been alone in this feeling. The Black Keys and Jack White were--honestly, no one really thought either of those two were going to win but you never know at these things about upsets, underdogs, and Grammy Moments (TM).
If you predicted any of the above, you were mistaken. Along came Mumford & Sons. They strummed their way to the primo award of the night: Album of the Year. "Babel" takes it home, and maybe this is a symbol of what music is all about: a bunch of people, speaking different languages and barely understanding one another, trying to build something together. Or maybe those Grammy powers that be just really love themselves some mandolin.
Was that the most traditionally dazzling performance by Frank Ocean? Nope. His voice can disappear on him sometimes and the multimedia aspect and the song selection itself (the fine but not-an-album-standout "Forrest Gump") made it seem like Ocean was buying into his own hype a little bit. But you simply can't look away when he's on stage or on screen. He's a special talent who would rather play by his own rules, do something unexpected and different than simply sing his biggest hit the way it appears on the album.
Also -- Earl Sweatshirt in the house! Who would've thought that one two years ago, huh?
Kelly Clarkson is still having a really good time. Dare we say too good of a time?
— HuffPostEnt (@HuffPostEnt) February 11, 2013
D.C.'s Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, and legendary Dobro player Mike Auldridge, a member of local bluegrass greats the Seldom Scene, were among the musicians honored in the Grammys annual In Memoriam montage.
Dave Brubeck, Andy Williams, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Davy Jones, Dick Clark and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch were some of the others who passed away in the past year who were featured in the montage. The final image on the screen was Levon Helm, longtime drummer of roots-rock greats the Band. This led to a star-studded performance of the Band's beloved hit, "The Weight," featuring Elton John, Mumford & Sons, Mavis Staples, T-Bone Burnett, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and more.
Don't say you weren't warned, beloved readers: LL Cool J and every commercial lead-in voiceover did tell us that we would be witnessing a "Grammy moment" when Carrie Underwood performed. What is a Grammy moment? Did we just see one? Will we ever? Let's find out in the third installment of real time performance breakdowns: Reactions in Chronological Order to Carrie Underwood's performance:
1. Somebody went back into Taylor Swift's "Our Song" video and stole that dress she was wearing on the porch. Slammin' screen doors, y'all.
2. That boy with the O-Town haircut on his head, the twang in his voice and a song in his heart was Hunter Hayes. Looks like someone didn't get the memo about "throwback hair." Or maybe our alliteratively named young heartthrob *did* get the memo but, because he was born in the 1990s, he thought "throwback" meant "TRL's early years."
3. Upon closer inspection, Carrie Underwood's dress is all very Glinda the Good Witch. This becomes even more clear when she starts singing about how there's not enough rain or wind in various parts of flyover country to wash away our sins.
3. Speaking of Glinda the Good Witch, how about those ads for "Oz: The Great and Powerful"? Weird, right? Would it be more or less weird to see this flick back-to-back with other bizarro James Franco vehicle, "Spring Breakers"? Responses welcome.
4. WHAT ARE THESE LIGHTS WHAT IS HAPPENING IS HER DRESS TURNING INTO A GLOW IN THE DARK ANTHROPOLGIE HEADBOARD? IS THE GLOWING COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE SO TO SPEAK?
5. Now it's a bunch of stars! Look for constellations in Carrie's abdomen, viewers! Did Cinna design this? Is it just a screensaver? Is it the rose from Beauty and the Beast, with each falling petal symbolizing the limited number of days left the Beast has to live if he cannot learn to love and be loved in return?
6. Also, she's still singing! Lots of head jerking, some above-average arm movement.
7. BE FREE MONARCH BUTTERFLIES! Off you go, out of the Staples Center and into the great blue sky!
The Purple One -- dressed in all black tonight, and walking with a cane, for some reason -- comes out and immediately receives a standing ovation. Simply for being Prince. As well he should.
Then he presents the award for Record of the Year, and it's not Frank Ocean, so no symbolic passing of the torch. And it's not fun., to continue their coronation this evening. And it's not Black Keys or Kelly Clarkson or Taylor Swift. But instead it's Gotye for "Somebody That I Used to Know," which we thought we would never get stuck in our head again but there it is now. And it's not going anywhere. And Prince said that he loved the song!
Surprises all around.
Has no one told Taylor Swift that the Grammys are televised? Everyone's favorite pop ingenue has danced through the event like no one's watching -- although, perhaps unfortunately for her, everybody is.
Here's T. Swift rocking to Mumford & Sons...
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="560"] Courtesy Vulture[/caption]
... Taylor, incanting to Bruno Mars...
— Ryan Broderick (@ryanpbroderick) February 11, 2013
... Taylor and The Lumineers ...
Will someone tell Taylor Swift to take a seat?twitpic.com/c2ntrg
— Veronica De Souza (@HeyVeronica) February 11, 2013
Guh. Taylor Swift loves everything. twitter.com/BuzzFeed/statu…
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) February 11, 2013
What will she dance next?
It's halfway to a "big four" sweep for fun., as the band takes home the award for Best New Artists. In his acceptance speech, frontman Nate Ruess gave props to the other nominees. Well, at least a couple of them. "Frank Ocean, the Lumineers," he said, before shifting course. That would be an official burn to Alabama Shakes and Hunter Hayes.
Chris Richards predicted that fun. would be the night's big winners before the night started.
Jack White, in his dressing room earlier today: "Guys, has anyone seen my self tanner?"
(The Grammys stagecrew draw straws; the loser, who I'll call Thomas, approaches White.)
Thomas: Umm, well, you see, Johnny Depp really needed it.
Jack: Johnny Depp needed my self-tanner?
Thomas: If it makes you feel better, he also swiped Adele's bronzer.
Jack: That man is going to look like an Oompa Loompa. Has he thought about that?
Thomas: I can't speak for Johnny, sir.
Jack: So what am I supposed to do now?
Thomas: Well, I guess you'll just have to look like someone who hasn't seen the sunlight since people listened to music on actual gramophones.
Jack: In that case, I may as well wear this bedazzled pantsuit. Here, Thomas, take my hairbrush. I don't need it anymore.
Also, he performed a song. "Freedom at 21." His guitar playing was epic. Epic, we say! We will not deduct points for vampiric skin tone in our Grammys Performance Report Card.