Here's what we learned hanging out backstage at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards:
5 p.m. PT: The best thing about being here? Literally feeling the thud of the bass drum as Jennifer Hudson's wails on "Respect."
• Did we hear reporters make fun of Christina Aguilera's way with words at the beginning of her Aretha Franklin tribute performance? We did. Did we hear reporters making fun of her at the end of it? We did not.
• The guys from Train might be as surprised as you that they won Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for their inescapable "Hey, Soul Sister." Says lead singer Pat Monahan: "When you're in a category with Glee, you basically say, 'Congratulations, Glee.' "
• We ask the Train guys if, given their new-found Grammy glow, they planned to arrive at future awards shows Lady Gaga-style. "Sure. Absolutely," guitarist Jimmy Stafford tells us. "We love eggs."
• If you think Stafford looks like Howie Mandel, you're not alone. Last we checked the band's Wikipedia page, somebody had inserted the shiny-skulled comic into its lineup.
• Bieber's Never Say Never almost went No. 1 at the box office this weekend—and Stafford's partly to credit. He says he went last night with his tween-aged (natch) daughter.
• As far as further proof that Bieber fever is a real condition, we have never seen so many fans gather in one act's name at the Grammys than we did today. We literally had to work our way through a gaggle of Bieber believers—and this way hours before the telecast.
6:20 p.m.: The other best thing about being back here? A raw TV feed! When a happy, apparently shocked Gaga wins Pop Vocal Album, and accepts her trophy with a resounding, "Sh-t!," we get to enjoy the exclamation in all its four-letter glory—unlike, we understand, you poor, sheltered folks back at home.
• Ah, the glamorous life… Muse wins Rock Album (for The Resistance), does some official Grammy press and then gets shuffled out of here, pronto, to catch a flight.
• Last Sunday, Green Bay Packers star Clay Matthews was madly running down Pittsburgh Steelers. Tonight, he's calmly walking the press line. What a difference a week makes.
7:25 p.m.: Ooh! Aah! Gasp! That's the best we can do to describe the sounds that emanate from here when
Esperanza Spalding wins Bieber doesn't win Best New Artist. A lot of somebodies obviously didn't read this soothsaying article from Friday.
• In their 1960s prime, The Who was the world's loudest band. But tonight, the sixtysomething Mick Jagger is the loudest act we've heard—and felt.
• Glee's Matthew Morrison turns on the "Make 'Em Laugh" charm for his official Grammy portrait, climbing up and stepping off the back of a chair.
• Think sparkly dresses are an appropriate choice for an awards show? Think again. The fembot number worn by Miranda Lambert (Female Country Vocal) practically blinds us when one of its blasted sparkles hits the light.
• "I'm going to celebrate Valentine's by kissing my Grammy," Lambert
says lies. As she admits with her next breath, the award she's holding is a dummy, and is not going home with her.
• Did Bieber get a backstage pep talk from Keith Urban? We couldn't hear exactly, but in any case, the Bieber is looking no worse for the crushing defeat.
• John Legend is juggling an armload of Grammys—just like in 2006, the year he ruled the Grammys. Experience, however, doesn't make the juggling any easier. Says Legend: "I'm getting Grammy wrist."
• More uncensored fun on the raw feed! Surprise Album of the Year winners Arcade Fire make like Lady Gaga, and drop a "holy sh-t" (couresty Win Butler), which we get to hear, and which your delicate ears don't.
• So, yes, of course, we congratulate Spalding on her upset win, but then we ask the tough question: Does she feel bad about making so many 12- and 13-year-old Bieber believers cry? "He's going to have many more wins and nominations," the jazz player graciously says of the competition.
8:50 p.m.: When big Grammy winners almost collide… Arcade Fire and Lady Antebellum make the press rounds in the same room. Our favorite moment: Arcade Fire's Will Butler quite literally thanking the Academy (by shaking Recording Academy President Neil Portnow's hand).
• Arcade Fire enters—and exits—the press-conference stage humming "Pomp and Circumstance." The way the Montreal group sees it, tonight is the night it grew up: "The graduating class of 2011!," Win Butler says, by way of introducing his bandmates.
• Arcade Fire wasn't just stunned that it beat Eminem and all the other heavyweights. "This is more like from outer space," Win Butler says.
• So, who was more surprised: Arcade Fire or presenter Barbra Streisand? It was pretty close, per the band. "And the winner is The Su... The Su...?" Richard Parry offers, doing a pretty good imitation of Streisand's halting envelope read.
• "It's their judgment, not ours."—Portnow, passing the blame on the night's bleeps to CBS.
• According to Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich, the puppet-populated CeeLo Green production number grew out of a question posed by the singer: "Do you remember the Elton John appearance on The Muppet Show? Can we do that?" (Fortunately, the answer was yes.)
• Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott sums up the night simply—and aptly: "Blessed in abundance."
Sadly, the remark does not apply to Justin Bieber fans. Sorry about that.