The 8 Most Surprising Moments of the Grammys

There were highs. There were lows. And then, there were these.

BY LIZ RIGGS MUSIC / CULTURE February 11, 2013

Last night’s Grammys had a lot of talent, a terrifying amount of mediocrity and plenty of relatively appropriate designer gowns. That’s to be expected: It’s the Grammys. It’s the one night of the year where all of the most important people in music get together and make fans across the globe feel amazed, betrayed and, at the same time, insignificant.

Even though LL Cool J was hosting—something nobody can seem to figure out—the 55th annual Grammys packed in plenty of moments that brought people to tears, to their feet, to their knees and to their prison cells (No? Chris Brown is still out there?).

To the excitement of every girl (and most boys) who was an adolescent in 2000, Justin Timberlake returned to the stage in style. The Black Keys made us all want to try wearing leather jackets. Kelly Clarkson sang better than she ever did on American Idol. And then Justin Timberlake got on stage again. Frank Ocean walked and sang at the same time. And Levon Helm was honored by, apparently, the only song The Band ever wrote. Then, there were a bunch of tiny moments everybody missed because they were too busy grabbing a bathroom break at every mention of country music. So, for those of you who missed it, we bring you the most surprising moments of the the Grammys.

1. Taylor Swift sang every song (better than her own?).

Like the aw-shucks, glee-filled fangirl that she is, Taylor Swift enjoyed the Grammys more than everyone in the world. On her feet singing along to Mumford and the Bob Marley tribute (and every other song), T-Swift reminded us how musicians are at their best: talented fans. Hate her if you must, but she was having more fun than almost anyone there.

2. Sting pays tribute to reggae, of course.

Bob Marley tributes always have the potential to just be a bunch of red, green and yellow dreadlocks floating around a cloudy stage, but the Grammys did an honorable job of culling a range of artists for this tribute—most notably, Sting, who returned to a brand of reggae most of us had forgotten he ever had.

3. Katy Perry made a decent joke.

Katy Perry took a stab at Bon Iver (who probably wasn’t even invited to the Grammys this year) when she told the audience she was never nominated for Best New Artist but that she had her own eyelash line. “Take that, Bon Iver,” she said, which might make her a better comedian than a singer.

4. Blink 182 played drums with LL Cool J.

OK, not really—but since everyone with eyes turned off their televisions after album of the year was announced, you should all just know that Travis Barker played drums for LL and that he still has a lot of tattoos.

5. Lena Dunham is dating one of the guys in Fun.

With her bright yellow dress in the midst of the standard black-and-white style of the Grammys, Lena Dunham stood out like a parakeet in a flock of penguins. She spent the night exploding in excitement whenever Fun. performed—because, apparently, she goes steady with Jack Antonoff. She’s hipster enough to have liked him better when he was in Steel Train.

6. Jack White made you forget The Lumineers performed.

Everyone loves the Lumineers. Ho, hey, yay. But when The Lumineers played mostly just to introduce Jack White, you remember what rock and roll really is: It wears a sparkly peacock suit and looks like a vampire.

7. Elton John honors Sandy Hook.

After the public outcry of exploitation when the Grammys announced Sandy Hook’s children’s choir would be performing “Call Me, Maybe” at the awards, the powers decided to pull out. Instead, the only mention of the shooting came from Elton John, just before he, Zac Brown, T-Bone Burnett, Mumford and Sons, the Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Mavis Staples and a few others launched into a show-stopping Levon Helms tribute. There’s nothing snarky to say about this. It was beautiful.

8. Dr. John’s hat.

If there’s someone (or something) that unwarrantedly left the Grammys empty-handed, it was Dr. John’s hat. How Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney were able to get through their song without stopping to ask Dr. John about his outfit was a mystery, but we’re all glad they did.

Liz Riggs

LIZ RIGGS

Liz Riggs is a freelance writer and English teacher in Nashville, Tenn. She eats stories like grapes and has a very serious appreciation for macaroni and cheese. Follow her on Twitter at your own risk @riggser.

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