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  • The 10 Least Boring Moments From The 2013 Grammys
6. LL Cool J's Giddily Nonsensical Rap-Rock Revival

When he's not surrounded by goobers, Grammy host LL Cool J is still one of the best live rappers breathing. But last night, he had the bright idea to close out the show by enlisting Tom Morello, Travis Barker, Z-Trip, and fellow legend Chuck D for a clattering siren-blare mess of a performance. It was absolute squalid chaos, but it wasn't boring.

About two thirds of the way through last night’s endless Grammy ceremony, Justin Timberlake ambled onstage for the second time, this time to flank Recording Academy CEO and inveterate pirate-scolder Neil Portnoy. Timberlake asked a question: “Best Grammys ever?” Then he answered himself: “Best Grammys ever.” Well, no, Justin. The idea of a “best” Grammys, or even an “OK” Grammys, is nearly impossible to conceive. As far as I can remember, the best Grammys ever was 1998, when Ol’ Dirty Bastard soy bombed Shawn Colvin and Soy Bomb soy bombed Bob Dylan, if only because that was the year that the entire enterprise seemed to be falling apart, with fun and interesting results. Since then, precious little has interrupted the Grammy parade of self-congratulation and bad old-people decision-making. Last night falls somewhere on a long and predictable continuum of disappointment.

The comments section here has already had its day with me for writing about how I like Mumford & Sons, but Mumford’s big Album of the Year victory over Frank Ocean was exactly what I’m talking about here: A readymade travesty that anyone who follows these things saw coming miles away. If you give these voters half a chance to reward goofball traditionalism or heritage-artist coasting over actual real-time excellence, they will never not take it. And last night’s performances were mostly rote and uninspired (the Levon Helm trio, the Black Keys Treme mini-episode) or howlingly dumb (Taylor Swift’s show-opening Cirque du Soleil jack).

But as with every year, we had a handful of true heroes and fun minor moments. From a certain perspective, it’s worth it to sit through an Ed Sheeran/Elton John duet to get a half-glimpse of Riff Raff, inexplicable seated in the third row. And so here are a few command performances and dumb, enjoyable trivialities that made last night’s death-march that much more bearable.


• Album of the year: Babel, Mumford & Sons

• Record of the year: “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Gotye featuring Kimbra

• Song of the year: “We Are Young,” fun.

• New artist: fun.

• Pop solo performance: “Set Fire to the Rain (Live),” Adele

• Pop vocal album: Stronger, Kelly Clarkson

• Rock performance: “Lonely Boy,” The Black Keys

• Urban contemporary album: Channel Orange, Frank Ocean

• Rap/sung collaboration: “No Church in the Wild,” Jay-Z, Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean, The-Dream

• Pop/duo group performance: “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Gotye featuring Kimbra

• Rap performance: “N****s in Paris,” Jay-Z, Kanye West

• Rap song: “N****s in Paris,” Shawn Carter, Mike Dean, Chauncey Hollis, Kanye West

• Rap album: Take Care, Drake

• R&B performance: “Climax,” Usher

• Traditional R&B performance: “Love on Top,” Beyonce

• R&B song: “Adorn,” Miguel Pimentel

• R&B album: Black Radio, Robert Glasper Experiment. 
• Rock song: “Lonely Boy,” The Black Keys
• Rock album: El Camino, The Black Keys

• Hard rock/metal performance: “Love Bites (So Do I),” Halestorm

• Alternative music album: Making Mirrors, Gotye

• Dance recording: “Bangarang,” Skrillex featuring Sirah

• Dance/electronica album: Bangarang, Skrillex

• Comedy album: Blow Your Pants Off, Jimmy Fallon

• Score soundtrack album: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

• Producer of the year, non-classical: Dan Auerbach
• Short-form music video: “We Found Love,” Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris
• Long-form music video: “Big Easy Express,” Mumford & Sons

Comments (77)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

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    • If I move my eyes slowly back away from the screen while staring at those words will I see a hidden picture?

    • If you kept your shit just like a little bit together while expressing this, you’d probably be in upvote city man. I kinda wanna be on your side here, but come onnnnnn

      • Is there any point to keep it together when addressing Tom’s writing, though? He clearly has proven that he is going to write and say whatever he wants without any regard to rationality. What he writes today will take an about-face tomorrow, but since he makes up the rules, it’s not a problem. He trolls more than informs in his posts nowadays. What more is that he’s rather arrogant in his delivery when he’s doing so and oblivious that the theatrics of his features have surpassed their actual substance.

        I think he’s lost touch with his responsibility as a music writer with this entire charade of “everyone else not looking at things the right way,” to be frankly honest. While his colleagues applaud it for being ballsy or against the grain or whatever, I don’t remember the last time I read anything that could be taken serious by this guy. He’s not hungry anymore, or something along those lines.

      • griffin speaks the gospel truth. Underscore, you’re right about 100% of the time, and the opposite of Tom: what you say isn’t total bullshit, but it’s presented like bullshit because you have no restraint.

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    • Can someone not enjoy Mumford & Sons, while also thinking that they didn’t have the album of the year?

    • I didn’t get this feeling at all. Tom wrote (what I felt was) a well thought-out article about why indie fans despise Mumford and why he personally doesn’t. He never said they were the best act making music right now, he never said they were better than Frank Ocean, and he never said that they should win everything at the Grammys. So when he complained about them beating whom he feels was the better artist, he is in no way being hypocritical.

      Besides, this is all subjective anyway. Articles like those are the opinions of the authors, not Stereogum trying to define taste or troll everyone. I’m getting really sick of this. If you don’t like Tom’s writing, don’t read his articles.

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          • Haha I shouldn’t even address this because it seems like a massive invasion of privacy, and I dunno, maybe it’s not even real, but that email is nothing but super cool and gracious. You make it so hard to simply agree that Mumford sucks! Now I’m on Tom’s side! What a world!

          • Again, that doesn’t seem holier-than-thou to me at all. I kept waiting for the dickishness came out, and it never did. I can’t speak to what your tone was like in the emails you had sent, but if it’s anything like how you talk in the comment sections, then I think I agree with Tom.

            This is coming from someone who absolutely hated Tom’s writing when I first started paying attention to it. I took his writing as trite, arrogant and flashy. When I made a joke about his repeated use of a metaphor, he gave me shit. But I’ve gotten past that, and I now have a grudging respect for him as someone that is good at explaining his opinions (even though many of those opinions are unpopular to the general population of Stereogum’s readership). I don’t always agree with him, but I find most of his work more interesting than the normal “let’s talk some more about how great this band that we all already agree is great.” If anything, this email made me respect him even more.

            I used to respect you Michael_, for the same reasons. You weren’t afraid to voice your opinions, no matter how many downvotes you got. That said, it seems like all you do anymore is take out the frustrations in your life on Stereogum, and that’s not really cool. And it’s getting old.

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          • that looks like honest advice to me, and not arrogance. and frankly, it’s pretty cool that tom actually took the time to write you that e-mail, because contrary to your delusions, he doesn’t owe you jack shit. i’m sure he won’t be doing nice things for you now though.

          • It’s really cool when you’re on Tom’s good side like I am. Do you know he’s bought me every Mumford and Sons album? What a guy!

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          • dude, why would you do that? nobody ever said that you’re a bad writer. i’ve checked out your blog, actually, and it’s pretty good. now, that said (and full disclosure, everything i’m about to say here is completely uninformed conjecture), it seems highly unlikely to me that a blog alone will push you into full-time, professional writing job. i’d imagine that it’d be a good move to look for some smaller writing gigs outside of your blog – something along the lines of working for a local weekly, like tom said in his e-mail. in other words, help build your writing resume up. but coming on here and acting indignant because you feel that you’re more deserving of tom’s job than tom is? that’s not gonna do you any good.

          • I could very well do that, but it’s also that I don’t feel like I am part of a community of anything anymore and am being muted out. Music is generally a community of outsiders, so to feel like an outsider to all of that brings my spirits down. I’m not going to fight it anymore.

            I am not absolving myself of not stirring the pot around here, but even so, I find myself railing against the masses all of the time lately. Maybe I am out of touch with where music is heading, what people’s tastes are and this “poptimist” surge that seems to being sweeping over. Instead of continuing to upset everyone, always being downvoted into hell, upsetting myself in return and feeling like an unworthy black sheep, I’m just going to walk away from it instead of assimilating with it.

          • Hey, don’t let anyone or anything take writing away from you. I enjoy your blog and the content is miles beyond most. Your passion really comes through and that makes a difference. Thought the mbv write-up was especially great.

            If you feel like tastes are shifting away from yours, make that your strength! Use it to define your point of view. Or if you really do want to take a break from writing, try another medium. Lots of college radio stations make airtime available to “community members” (I live in MA too and know that Boston College’s WZBC does this).

            And don’t get discouraged by the downvotes here. Reading comments on sites like these is like watching pundits yell at each other on TV news shows, but yours always feel like they are coming from a human being. I respect (and frequently agree with) the things you have to say and in general I think if we were all talking in person we would all be friends.

          • i think by saying tom is somehow lucky to be writing for this site ranks among some of the more offensive things you’ve written. you’ve inadvertently firmed his writing career by posting that email, a private email no less, and you’ve made yourself look worse in the process.

            i think there’s a huge lesson for anyone in any career to be learned by following your bullshit over the past few months. tom might have gotten some small breaks and kissed a little ass, by his own admittance it seems, but he hung on long enough to do now what you seem so desperately wanted to at one point in time. maybe if you had let coachella-gate roll off your back, you could’ve hung around a little longer too.

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          • and saying tom isn’t allowed to inject his opinion around here, even if it whiffs of bravado, is in direct contrast to the sheer volume of assholistic negativity you’ve bestowed upon us for months. god knows that also applies to michael hanna.

          • That’s the problem — Because Tom is “Tom of Stereogum fame,” you are saying that we aren’t allowed to call him out when he’s being “assholistic,” but crucify myself or Michael Hanna for doing just the same because apparently we are a less valuable human sub-species whose thoughts aren’t worth the same as his.

            If myself or Michael Hannahs name were on that by-line instead of Tom’s, you’d be tearing Tom a new one right now, too.

            Keep sucking his dick, man.

          • right man, hyperbole notwithstanding

            if anything, i marvel at your ability to frame the argument to what you see fit, even if it is completely delusional

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    • hey you guys………..michael hates Mumford and his sons

  2. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Time to take a break.

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • I also want to clear up one very important thing, because judging by the number of downvotes for the above comment, I am guessing a large amount of assumption was made from the words “least attractive.” When I said “least attractive,” I meant that her tattoo placements and choices have always been a huge turn off for me and I just hate the show in general. I know the chick gets a lot of flack for her unconventional lead actress body image and stuff, but that’s not at all been an issue to me.

    • Technojeremy is BACK y’all.

      And he ain’t relaxin’

  3. That Bruno Mars chick can really mooooove!

  4. i must have missed the rap song/rap performance awards; did the announcers actually say “niggas in paris?”

  5. I don’t dig the anti-Timberlake vibes. He’s reminding you of Robin Thicke because Robin Thicke’s career is based on desperately trying to be like Justin (and he’s not completely terrible at it). But that’s not JT’s fault. His performance was super fun and good.

  6. My favorite moment was after Jack White obliterated the world with his set and all the people in the audience were looking around like “yup, Jack White obliterated the world”

  7. ^^ Accurate description.

  8. I agreed with your point about how the Mumfords aren’t all that bad. Now it’s time for you to admit that Frank Ocean is freaking boring as hell.

  9. I think the notion that Frank Ocean (hah that rhymed) was the least boring part of the whole show simply for being Frank Ocean is goddamn ridiculous idolization. Anyway, Jack White’s “Freedom at 21″ performance was easily my favorite part.

    • Jack White told me that Tom’s article made him like Mumford and Sons so much that them winning album of the year was his favorite part.

    • Yeah, and I’m almost always on board for ridiculous Frank idolization, but it’s weird how no one is willing to mention how he really didn’t sound good for like half of that performance. I agree with it being an “inspired burst of weirdness” or whatever, and how the Grammys need more of that, but he was definitely not the highlight. Really pains me to say that, but it’s true.

    • for real, I love frank ocean but his performance was easily the worst of the night. He was all over the place and missed a ton of notes. Sorry.

      Jack White on the hand, destruction. Also, loved the Marley tribute.

  10. Seriously, am I the only person that loved that Bob Marley tribute? That was a lot of fun.

    • Sorry, but any Bob Marley “tribute” that begins with Bruno Mars performing a Bruno Mars song is automatically disqualified from being a tribute to anything but the horrible state of pop music — doesn’t matter how many attempts at credibility in the form of Marley offspring and aging British rock stars you throw onstage.

  11. Eddie Vedder tells you all you need to know about the Grammys

  12. Remember when we all used to like the Black Keys? I miss those days.

    • Remember when the Black Keys made records like Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory? I miss those days.

      • Remember when we all used to NOT become pretentious twat-waffles when a good band finally achieved commercial success, instead of immediately writing them off as “sell outs?” No… neither do I. Anyways, Brothers and El Camino are solid as fuck.

        • Remember when people didn’t jump to conclusions and call others “twat-waffles” for no reason? I wasn’t trying to be pretentious. I just personally care for the grittier blues style of those albums than the newer stuff that is more produced and slick. I understand the appeal, I just don’t care for it.

          • Oh, I was definitely trying to direct that towards Stereogum as a whole, not just you. There seems to be a decent number of gummers that have been taking undeserved shots at The Keys lately, as if they’re not still one of the best bands around.

            No hard feelings scruffyboo. <3

          • Gotcha, Felix. No hard feelings.

  13. I don’t think anyone who is serious about music really gives a damn about the Grammys. The fact that Mumford & Sons won the Grammy for best album says it all! I’d rather slit my wrists than listen to Mumford & Sons – safe, boring, plodding, pointless music for the masses. The only person to win an award with any real talent is Frank Ocean.

    • Anyone who takes music seriously wouldn’t cut their wrists rather than listen to Mumford and Son’s that’s just taking music self-harmingly. It’s just some banjo man you can handle it. Jack White’s got talent, Adele’s got a voice, I haven’t heard too much from kiss from the bottom but Paul Mccartney is mucho talented, Miguel won one and hist short ass performance was pretty much the best performance of the night, and so on and on. Obviously no award is the end all be all for who is talented or not (not even the stereogum gummies), but they’re fun little diddies to watch and theyre not half as infuriating as those best of lists on vh1. They had a best of females in music like of all time and kesha was literally top 50.

  14. In case you missed it I had at least two comments at +10 or comments and several others in the green and because I didn’t want my head to get to big I started a shit talking session against music teachers to make sure I stayed grounded as a commenter I’m pretty sure those clocked me back down to about even.

  15. Guys, just take a few deep breathes and look at this again:

  16. I don’t pay attention to the grammys, and it’s a good thing because the categories make absolutely no sense to me.

  17. I really liked this article.

  18. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Hah, so when someone says what I say but with the stamp of approval with a Stereogum by-line, it’s okay — It means something, it’s acceptable. But when someone who hasn’t been deemed “worthy” to view their opinions does just the same with as many words, it warrants a CAPS LOCK angry response cut-down?

    • If you want me to shut up, take a novel route and just leave me alone. I wanted to least explain myself to tie up loose ends (and was quite content with how I ended my explanation up above,) but as long as characters such as yourself are here to bug me and to annoy me with the very reactions that are the same reasons why all the above just happened, then you will see long essay style responses where I go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on

    • Why would you come to a comments section asking for less commentary?

  19. I was totally expecting Ellen/Katy Perry to be #1.

  20. I am STILL having a hard time with Riff Raff’s clownish self hitting the red carpet AND being seated anywhere besides the balcony…totally out of view. The guy is gaining ground as one of the top hip hop clowns of the century…he’s tagged himself as the “hip hop Martin Lawrence” and recently in an interview with The Hype Magazine one of his interview responses was simply “Adopt me.” What an injustice for him to have any recognition and then even get a mention in this article LOL…wow.

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