Sunday night, the Grammy Awards hit the Staples Center, with the record industry honoring the best music of the past year — at least the best music that sold records.
Ratings for the event's CBS broadcast were down last year, from 40 million to 28 million viewers, but that seems largely due to 2012 drawing a huge number following Whitney Houston's death. Last year still had almost 2 million more viewers than in 2011.
Still, the show can be polarizing, with those who aren't as into the current music scene feeling disconnected from the show — many of the commenters who posted about the Grammys on KPCC's Facebook page noted how little interest they had in the program. Here are the things worth watching the show for.
1. Memorable duets
The Grammys serve as a place for performers to duet, often in surprising combinations, to deliver one-of-a-kind team-ups. Elton John played a part in two of the most famous, performing alongside Eminem following Em being criticized for being anti-gay:
And a medley with Lady Gaga as she began her ascent:
You can also get strange pairings in other ways, such as Tupac bringing out Kiss at the 1996 Grammys for a performance.
This year, Daft Punk is teaming with Stevie Wonder. They made an impact before when they performed alongside Kanye West, and now they're doing it with a higher profile after delivering one of the top songs of the summer.
Other highlights this year include Robin Thicke performing with the soft rock sounds of the band Chicago, Sara Bareilles with Carole King, Metallica playing with classical Chinese pianist Lang Lang and even Paul McCartney re-teaming with Beatles playmate Ringo Starr. According to MTV News, it's Starr's first time playing the Grammys.
2. Best Spoken Word Album and Best Comedy Album
While there's also an award for Best Comedy Album, the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album often goes to humorists, with this year's nominees including Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, comedian Billy Crystal and "This American Life" commentator and author David Sedaris.
This year's Best Comedy Album nominees including Kathy Griffin, Craig Ferguson, Ron White and Bob Saget. However, many are pulling for Tig Notaro, who broke through in late 2012 after an emotional standup set talking about her battle with cancer that fellow comic and comedy hero Louis C.K. drew attention to on Twitter.
One commenter on our Facebook page mentioned that Notaro winning was the top thing he was hoping for from the show, and many comedy fans are with him.
Watch a story from Tig Notaro about singer Taylor Dayne:
And here's a previous acceptance speech from Stephen Colbert:
3. What's happening on your phone and tablet
The Grammys have been at the forefront of pushing the idea of a second screen experience among awards shows, making numerous mentions of it throughout their broadcasts. Trendrr reports that the 2013 Grammys generated 15.4 million interactions on social media, while Lost Remote reports that CBS is looking to continue focusing on social and digital.
They launch their Grammy Live "second screen experience" Sunday morning at 9 a.m. Pacific. During the show itself, they'll be live backstage doing interviews and offering a behind the scenes look at the show. The rest of the day's online broadcast begins with a recap of the week's Grammy events and also offers five hours of red carpet coverage.
The online experience also includes the pre-show ceremony with all the lower profile awards, delivered in more rapid fire fashion than during the main show. The pre-show also has its own musical performances, including one by singer-songwriter Ben Harper with blues musician Charlie Musselwhite. The pre-show will be hosted by '80s pop legend Cyndi Lauper.
One hiccup with participating in the conversation out west — the Grammys are only shown in L.A. on tape delay on our local CBS affiliate. Still, that could give you even more reason to follow what's happening on apps and on Twitter to see what's happening as it happens, then tune in later to actually see the performances. The Grammys are in a lot of ways more about those performances than the awards, so get hyped up for what people are buzzing about and see if you agree.
Like any awards show, the Grammys have their own insane moments, among the most legendary in the world of awards shows. While things can get out of hand at the Oscars and at other film awards shows, they still tend to be a bit more refined than the amped up concert atmosphere of the Grammys.
A few of those memorable moments:
- Years before Kanye West cut off Taylor Swift, Ol' Dirty Bastard jumped on stage before Shawn Colvin could accept the song of the year award in 1998, shouting that the Wu-Tang Clan was "for the children" and getting pulled off stage.
- A shirtless man rushing the stage during a 1998 Bob Dylan performance with the words "SOY BOMB" on his chest.
- Jennifer Lopez's deep, deep, deep plunging neckline being seared into the national consciousness and setting a new standard for celeb risque.
- Chris Brown and Rihanna attending the 2013 awards together after Brown infamously beat Rihanna and threw her from their car, leading to Rihanna canceling a performance at the 2009 Grammys.
- Lady Gaga showing up at the show in a giant egg.
- 50 Cent coming on stage as Evanescence accepted the award for best new artist in 2004
- MIA performing while unbelievably pregnant.
With the combustible mix of personalities at this year's Grammys, anything could happen.
Will you be watching? What are you most looking forward to this year?