CAPTION: Taylor Swift accepts the Grammy award for best song written for visual media along with John Paul White and T Bone Burnett.
If you are parked in front of your TV to watch the Grammys, you’ll only see a fraction of what’s happening at the annual music awards show.
In fact, 70 of the 81 trophies were handed out in a pre-telecast ceremony in the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, next to the Staples Center where the last 11 Grammys will be presented between a record 20 star-studded performances.
The televised presentations target pop, country, urban, rock, and rap categories, leaving the jazz, gospel, classical, Latin and other categories to the pre-show.
The Nokia Theatre was far from full, because many of the 754 individual nominees and their teams were on the red carpet or still getting ready for the big show while the pre-show was under way.
But if you were there for the pre-show — or watched it streamed online — you would have heard Rihanna, Drake, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Usher, Beyonce and Paul McCartney win Grammys. You still would not have seen them, however, because those stars were not present to accept.
You would have seen Taylor Swift making an effort to appear excited and surprised as she accepted a Grammy for best song written for visual media. She won it because she was a co-writer of “Safe & Sound,” a song made for“The Hunger Games” film. “This is unbelievable!” Swift exclaimed. It was her sixth Grammy in her young career. Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is also nominated for record of the year, one of the top awards to be announced near the end of the live Grammys telecast.
The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson also took the pre-telecast stage to accept the Grammy for best historical album. He co-produced “The Smile Sessions,” a resurrection of an abandoned Beach Boys album project from 45 years ago. He hinted that the Beach Boys have “a lot of stuff in the can that hasn’t been heard” and that the group would “try to get an album together” this year. Wilson, 70, appeared frail, requiring two men to walk on each side backstage.
Janis Ian, another major star from the past, was there to accept a Grammy. Ian called it a “big upset” when she beat first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Rachel Maddow in the best spoken word category. “I keep thinking there must be a punchline here,” Ian joked. “An ex-president and the first lady and three lesbians walk into a bar.” Ian won for narrating “Society’s Child: My Autobiography.”
It was just her second Grammy after nine nominations in eight different categories. “I made a choice to be a songwriter and not be part of the circus all the time. I don’t do popular music because that’s not what I’m good at,” Ian said backstage.
Bonnie Raitt was there to get her 10th Grammy, the latest for best Americana album given for “Slipstream.” “I didn’t expect this,” Raitt said. “I have enough.”
Jazz legend Pat Metheny took home his 20th Grammy out of 36 nominated. The latest for best jazz instrumental album, given to him for “Unity Band.”
Esperanza Spalding, the bass-playing jazz singer whose best new artist win upset Justin Bieber fans two years ago, was present to win two more Grammys in the pre-telecast. Spalding, 28, won for best instrumental arrangement accompanying vocalists and for best jazz vocal album for “Radio Music Society.”
Drake, whom Spalding also beat two years ago for best new artist, may now wish he had been there because the rapper was awarded his first Grammy after 13 nominations. Then again, he also lost twice Sunday when Jay-Z and Kanye West beat him in the best rap song and best rap performance categories.
Paul McCartney was a no-show to pick up his Grammy for best traditional pop vocal album. It was awarded for his “Kisses on the Bottom” album.
While there are plenty of household names announced in the pre-show, it is also the chance for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to honor people who perform important jobs for the music industry.
For example, Billy Vera won a Grammy for writing the best album notes. He composed the notes for an album of Ray Charles music, “Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles.”
Fritz Klaetke, the art director for “Woody At 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection,” won a Grammy for producing the best boxed or special limited edition package. While this may seem to be the most unglamorous of all Grammys, Klaetke said the category was important for “recognizing the role packaging design plays in these days of downloaded music.”