Grammy Nominations Special: The Best and Worst Performances | EW.com

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Grammy Nominations Special: The Best and Worst Performances

There was a time when the Grammy nominations were announced at an untelevised, clothes optional ceremony conducted by the side of Frank Sinatra’s pool. Actually, that’s almost certainly not true. But there’s no doubt the nominations announcement has become a bigger and bigger deal. Earlier this evening, the countdown to the Grammy Awards—which can be seen live on CBS on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 at 8 p.m. ET/PT—began with a TV special featuring performances by host LL Cool J, Nick Jonas, the Black Eyed Peas, Sugarland, and Maxwell. But who deserved a trophy for their efforts? And who required considerable effort just to keep watching?

THE GOOD

Sugarland
Good heavens, Jennifer Nettles has got a big voice—every glorious, country-bluesy inch of which was on display during the band’s rendition of “Coming Home.” One quibble? It was probably a mistake to have the backing choir wander on halfway through. I can’t have been the only one who initially assumed they were lost guests who had taken a wrong turn on the way back from the restrooms.

Maxwell
The resurgent R&B star paid tribute to Michael Jackson by performing the Thriller ballad “The Lady in My Life.” Though his voice wavered at times, I wouldn’t overly disagree with presenter Smokey Robinson’s later declaration that he did a “good job.” (Frankly, who am I to disagree with Smokey Robinson about anything?) And the performance did seem a fitting tip of the hat to the late Grammy favorite. The trailer I saw during an ad break for the forthcoming Jackson brothers reality TV show? Not so much.

Nick Jonas and the Administration
It seems like only yesterday that young Nick Jonas was hanging out with his brothers. But actually, it was today! Kevin and Joe were on hand to introduce their bro, who performed “Who I Am” with competence, confidence, and the look of someone suffering from extreme constipation. That’s right: John Mayer should be worried.

THE NOT SO GOOD

LL Cool J
All the ladies love him. And he apparently loves every song released during the Grammys’ eligibility period, as LL demonstrated with an elaborate rap-montage thingie that featured, among other things, a snatch of “Poker Face,” the lyric “I’m the king like Leon,” and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. Alas, the track ended before the sharks from Deep Blue Sea could make an appearance. Was it kind of embarrassing? Yes. Was it funnier than presenter George Lopez’s subsequent joke about Coldplay being Mexican? Also yes.

The Black Eyed Peas
I’m disinclined to be overly harsh about the Black Eyed Peas, as I once spent a delightful afternoon at the horse races with will.i.am and crew. (Long story. Actually, it isn’t: I once went to the horse races with the Black Eyed Peas.) Suffice to say, they appeared to have put far more effort into choosing their natty threads than planning the performances of “I Gotta Feeling,” which bookended the show. In fact, during the first run through of the song, they almost immediately ceded the spotlight to a video of the lyrics being recited by other stars (including, unless someone slipped me some peyote earlier in the evening, 50 Cent and wrestling announcer Michael Buffer). Which was a nice idea—and it was a nice idea when Nickelback did it a couple of years ago, too.

So what did you think of the show? Are these prime-time specials a fun way to announce the Grammy nods? Or do you wish they’d do away with all the hoopla and just release all of the nominations at once?

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

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Photo credit: LL Cool J: Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com; Nick Jonas: Kent Miller/PR Photos

Originally posted December 2 2009 — 11:06 PM EST

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