Grammys 2013: Grades for All 20 Performances!

There’s a common complaint among Oldie Olsens like myself that live singing in the Ke$ha Era is going the way of the Dodo. (Or is that Do%o?)

Whether or not there’s any truth to that theory, the 2013 Grammy Awards proved to be one small step for the human voice, and one giant blow against Auto-Tune.

RELATED | The 2013 Grammy Awards: Best and Worst Moments

Indeed, while there were certainly a couple of subpar showings among the telecast’s 20 individual performances, there was really only one full-fledged catastrophe in the mix. So click through the gallery below to get the scoop (plus letter grades) for every Grammy performance, then hit the comments and share your own thoughts!

RELATED | The 55th Annual Grammy Awards: Winners List

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Rochelle says:

    You’re so wrong about Justin Timberlake. He was on pointe and flawless. Totally stole the show.

    • Cush ! says:

      Totally agree w/u about JT. Move over Michael Buble , can hardly wait for JT to start covering Sinatra tunes.

    • Lauren says:

      Absolutely. JT’s performance was fantastic, and judging from my Twitter feed during the show, almost everyone agrees with me. Also think “The Weight” deserves a higher grade. Hated LL’s performance at the end.

    • Tarc says:

      Sorry, I though he was awful. The song is just another lame retread from Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall. he was boring, the music was boring, and everything else was plastic in comparison with all the other great bands on the show.

  2. Nesbitt M says:

    Saw the first two grades, no need to keep reading. TSwift gets a higher grade than Ed Sheeran and Elton John? Are you kidding me?

  3. Rebecca says:

    Someone is a hater giving JT such a low grade.

    • jm says:

      or someone is just a fan girl who can see how bad he was yesterday.
      I think he has already been to keen to him.

      By the way “Gone” is one of my favourite songs ever.

    • Mary says:

      I have to agree with Michael but to be honest I would of given it a D. I absolutely hate his new song. I am hoping the rest of his album is better. I think Michael was way to generous in his grading especially for the first half of the show.

  4. Julia says:

    I like the “idea” of Frank Ocean, but can’t fathom his popularity when I see him perform.

  5. juliegramm says:

    Oh, yeah, I was totally distracted by the rain falling on electrical equipment. How’d they do that? And survive!

  6. Alan says:

    Well that was definitely an “off” performance by Frank Ocean’s standard. Check out his rendition of “Bad Religion” on Jimmy Fallon to here him at his best.

  7. Josh says:

    100% agree with Allan. Listen to Frank Ocean on Fallon before you judge him too harshly.

  8. JC says:

    Kelly Clarkson is definitely not human just ask Blake and Justin Timberlake. Based on their tweets they have concluded that Kelly is God haha just kidding but they did praise her :)

  9. Sally-n-Chicago says:

    Taylor has a tinny whiney voice. She looks like a 15 yr old. And she stole Britney’s Circus act. At the most a C for Taylor.

  10. EVPandHC says:

    I want proof that Kelly is really human. Come on, I love her so much and her “Natural Woman” on Idol was great. 11 years later and this feast happens?

  11. Natalie says:

    Sleepy? Was I the only one who found it to be my favorite of the night? The Taylor swift performance them left me going ” what? Um, no thank you.” but I did enjoy adam Levine and Key’s duet.

  12. Natalie says:

    Sleepy? Was I the only one who found Ed and Sir Elton John’s performance to be my favorite of the night? The Taylor swift performance them left me going ” what? Um, no thank you.” but I did enjoy adam Levine and Key’s duet.

  13. Rachel says:

    You did miss the point of Forrest Gump completely. I wouldn’t have chosen that song and he was off but his album was phenomenal. That song has to do with the man he fell in love with and how he can’t stop thinking about that guy. He’s comparing thinking about him to how Forrest Gump is always running all the time (hence the lines “running on my mind boy, running all the time boy”). That’s why his legs were running on that screen. I personally would have liked to hear Bad Religion or Thinking Bout You. So many people judged him before actually listening to his music and his story when it’s actually really good. This performance (song and pitch wise) just wasn’t.

    • EF says:

      I missed the point too. But the performance was so bad, that it distracted from any attempt to try to listen/understand the song. I read a tweet somewhere that said if that had been an American Idol audition, it would have been one that was mocked and/or WTF is that? And that’s an accurate depiction imo. I presume the guy isn’t that bad, but it was a very bad last night.

      I thought JT was fun to watch and see perform again, but I wasn’t blow away by the vocal performance. The best part was the very beginning, pre Jay Z imo.

      Mike rates TSwift too high and the Levon Helm tribute too low.

    • Chris says:

      I watched this with the closed captioning on and I didn’t get the point of this song. Thanks for enlightening me. Now that I know, I still think it was awful.

  14. Melinda says:

    Taylor Swift A ? She was better than Justin Timberlake? JT was one of the best performances of the night. T Swift was just bopping around on stage acting like a washed up 16 year old Robin Sparkles. Lame.

    • tp says:

      HAHAHAAA!!! Washed up Robin Sparkles is SO accurate I couldn’t have said it better! Thewhole time I was saying please stop trying to walk sexy. It’s clearly not working.

  15. Eric says:

    Ridiculous. Justin Timberlake was awesome. Also, JT was doing this when Bruno Mars was in high school. People seem to have short memories when it comes to music. And then you give Frank Ocean a D. Seriously?! You are just coming off as really stodgy and out of touch. I can’t right now.

  16. Taylor is the youngest person who won a Grammy for album of the year and many, many, many other awards, so show some respect people.

    I do not agree with Elton’s grade either but Taylor Swift has nothing to do with that.

    As a singer she is amazing.

  17. Carrie says:

    Kelly Clarkson killed it and super adorable when she won. Uncle Nigel had a very good night between Kelly and Carrie’s performances and wins. Love me some JT, some of his performance was pretty good, boy can sing, but I wish he had done less of the falsetto stuff – his lower register is far more appealing to me. Rihanna was good, nice to see her sing without spectacle and fully dressed. Frank Ocean was terrible and had me wondering if I was losing my mind or if other people thought his song was a self indulgent piece of rubbish. I wasn’t crazy about the close – could’ve been a way better tribute to Adam Yauch and the Beastie Boys by having a combo of old school and newer hip hop artists. Kelly Clarkson for the win last night.

    • jw says:

      Guess I’m the only one who thinks it’s wrong to belt the Tennessee Waltz. A lovely and tender ballad. But then that’s how she sings everything, with the subtlety of a Sherman tank.

      • JC says:

        That is Kelly’s style and if you’re not familiar with it then you must be listening to autotuned songs a little bit too much now :)

      • Aiden says:

        Not true. Perhaps the Kelly Clarkson songs you’ve heard necessitates her to belt or hit more glory notes, but she’s a far more dynamic singer than that. She knows subtlety. My current favorite KC song right now is “Don’t Rush” with Vince Gil, such a lovely and breezy pop country song. Can’t judge an artists by her hits alone.

  18. Catalina says:

    Bite your tongue about Juanes – he’s amazing. Although, he should have sung the whole thing in Spanish – his voice just sounds better that way.

  19. KMG says:

    Slezak, before you post a review of a performance, make sure you’re reviewing the song that the artist actually sang!! Carrie Underwood’s song is about a girl who leaves her drunk, abusive father to be “blown away” by a tornado. Ms. Underwood DOES have a song about a dead man’s wife and mistress attending his funeral, but that song is “Two Black Cadillacs”.

    • Michael Slezak says:

      KMG, Carrie sang only a snippet of Blown Away, then segued into Two Black Cadillacs. I focused my review on the latter, since it represented the bulk of her performance.

  20. Eric says:

    My favorites, in order:
    Maroon 5 and Alicia Keys
    Kelly Clarkson
    Taylor Swift
    The Lumineers
    Justin Timberlake

  21. Mick says:

    Kelly and Carrie proved last night as well as Jennifer Hudson and Katharine McPhee last week proved that when it comes to American Idol the women tend to dominate afterward. Frank Ocean is a brilliant songwriter, look what he got Brandy to do on Scared of Beautiful, but I am starting to think he lacks a certain performance quality.

  22. Kelly Clarkson , Mumford & Sons, and Justin Timberlake were the best for me. B+ for T-Swift?!?! NO. So terrible.

  23. Kiki says:

    Not sure I can respect the opinion of anyone who grades Taylor Swift over Justin Timberlake. She’s great for little girls but never awed at the big show.

  24. Scott says:

    One word… YAWN!!!

  25. Gaby says:

    My favorite Grammy performance will always be Mumford & Sons, Avett Brothers, and Bob Dylan.

    Mumford & Sons, were a little understated. I wish they had played a song in which the bass players used the upright bass instead but they still sounded great. They are TRUE artists and musicians.

  26. Sara says:

    Little correction: Mumford & Sons’ song is called ‘I Will Wait’ not ‘Nothing Is Writen’ even though that’s what it was called before Babel came out.

  27. Jan says:

    I would up the grade for Bruno Mars and Sting to A+. That was serious musical fun. I would also raise the grade for the Levon Helm tribute to a solid A.

    • Deena says:

      Sting & Bruno Mars brought coolness to a new level. One of my favorite performances ever.

      • Tarc says:

        But the sound guy for the entire show needed to be shot. You could barely hear Sting, and Clarkson, and several of the other acts over the music.

    • Zoe says:

      This this this. I mean, I have yet to see something involving Bruno that doesn’t make me swoon, so I’m a bit biased, but I was blown away by how Sting and Bruno blended their voices. Sting was a bit off-rhythm towards the beginning, but overall, I thought it was fantastic. And the Marley boys and Riri were a nice touch.

  28. Ralph Hartman says:

    You were too rough on Mumford and Sons. The point of the band is to not be flashy. They deserved nothing less then a A.

  29. Andrea says:

    Justin’s song just isn’t radio/tv/any other kind of media friendly. That was my issue with it. Kelly Clarkson was flawless, girl can do no wrong. Carrie Underwood was wonderful too. I was kind of confused by Taylors set up, what in the world did that have to do with her song? Her vocals were better than normal though, but not amazing.

  30. Chris says:

    I agree that Taylor Swift’s opening number was very entertaining. She may not be the best singer around but she put on a great show. A lot of other performers didn’t rise to her level of showmanship which kind of made the show run downhill. Bruno Mars was one of the few performances to really rise to the occasion. He just looks so joyous when he performs that he makes me happy. I thought Nate Reuss did not sound good live, perhaps because he was afraid of being electrocuted. I loved the idea of Carrie’s magical dress but thought it distracted from her singing. Maybe a more upbeat song would have gone better with the dress. I agree that Elton John was a snoozefest and he got out dressed by Dr. John!

  31. Jim says:

    Was that a little boob slip on Alicia Keyes dress?

  32. Carla says:

    the title of the mumford song was I Will Wait!

  33. jjovana3 says:

    Taylor Swift is coming off so bitchy everytime she goes after an ex boyfriend.

  34. Thea says:

    THANK YOU for speaking the truth on that JT performance! I love the man, but besides the 5 seconds of Jay-Z it was disappointingly lackluster. I hope the rest of his new album sounds better than those songs and he gives more of himself in future performances.

    In other news Sting and Bruno were my favorite of the night, followed by the tribute with Mavis and Brittany (whom I need to look up ASAP, because DAYUM that VOICE!) and then Kelly. Carrie’s dress was also a highlight.

    • Lauren says:

      You should absolutely look up Brittany Howard. Buy the entire Alabama Shakes’ album. It’s called Boys and Girls, and it’s amazing. I’m from Alabama and have been listening to the Shakes for a little over a year now and have seen them live twice. She seriously is one of the greatest voices in a long long while. Check them out and I promise you will be a fan.

  35. jjovana3 says:

    Also, Frank Ocean is MUCH better than that performance. He is an incredible lyricist and a bold musician.

    Watch Jimmy Fallon performance. His first ever. Now THATS a grammy winner.

  36. Amilah says:

    dude, you are so wrong about jt, that was a great rnb performance.

  37. Mary says:

    Michael I guess my TV was not working because I thought Fun sounded terrible. The first half of the show was not good at all. I actually started flipping back and forth would of changed the station completely but I wanted to see Kelly. I love Elton John but that was not a good pair up. From Kelly on I thought it the entertainment improved tremendously.

    • Jonathan says:

      You’re not alone, I thought “fun”. sounded awful, too. I skipped through most of it once it became clear that the guy wasn’t going to find the notes he was aiming for.

  38. anna says:

    lol…I have no trouble resisting Taylor Swift.

  39. anna says:

    Nate Ruess’ vocal was on point? Not to my ears it wasn’t. He was pitchy the entire song.

    I am a big fan of fun. and I’m happy they won BNA, but that was not a good live performance. I’m glad no won got electrocuted playing instruments in puddles of water, though

  40. anna says:

    Loved Kelly Clarkson’s, Jack White’s and The Black Keys’ performances. Also enjoyed Miguel’s performance and thought Rihanna sounded much better than she usually does when singing live. I hear JT killed it in his concert after the Grammys, so maybe he was holding back a little on the telecast? He was fine, but I wasn’t wowed. And he “borrowed” the B&W thing from Bruno Mars’ Grammy performance last year

  41. MaryAnn says:

    I have to totally disagree with you about Kelly Clarkson’s performance of “Tennessee Waltz.” I would have given it a C at best. It in no way did justice to the original or evoked memories of it, except as a contrast of how bad this rendition was in comparison.

  42. Chance says:

    The “problem” with Frank Ocean is that in most of his TV performances that I’ve seen he does a different (often times smaller) arrangement of the song he’s doing which often hurts him because a lot of his his greatness is as much in his music as it is his voice. The two work together beautifully on his album but it falters for the camera because he’s throwing out a more experimental musical track. The song he sang “Forrest Gump” is actually really beautiful and touching, it just didn’t translate as well to people who aren’t already aware of what he can do. The same thing happened on SNL.

    But in all seriousness, as several others have said, if you want to see what the man is truly capable of look up his performance of “Bad Religion” (what I feel is his best song) from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. It’s stunning.

    Also, do yourself a favor, give Channel ORANGE a listen. It has some genuinely powerful and moving tracks (Thinkin Bout You,, Forrest Gump, Sweet Life, Pink Matter, Pyramids. Even Crack Rock and Super Rich Kids.)

  43. tp says:

    JT was ok but in all honesty I just don’t like that song. Bruno was amazing as always. When Sting messed up the lyrics it ruined that part of the performance for me. I am in love with the Bruns too much though so I’m sure that was most of it. The rest of the performance was AMAZING. A- is unjust. That was the best performance of the night.

  44. Mark says:

    Is sayng that Rhianna didn’t suck singing live as much as she usually sucks singing live really a compliment?

    And should someone who is making millions of dollars of year as a “singer” get lots of extra praise heaped on her for apparently managing, for once, actually hit the notes in a song like she’s some contestant on American Idol?

  45. G-Mom says:

    Kelly Clarkson is beyond awesome and I definitely agree with your grade. And with The Black Keys’ grade! I thought the show was one of the best ever, of course, Kelly’s winning a Grammy and her performance had something to do with it. I was hoping she would hit that high note on Natural Woman like she did on Idol, but, this was a different arrangement that was just as good! If Kelly couldn’t win all she was nominated for, I’m glad the winners were spread out among other nominees. It’s no fun to watch if one person/group wins ALL the awards like last year (and I do like Adele). Unless it was Kelly maybe. :)

  46. Ann VerWiebe says:

    Miranda’s dress… well, god bless.

    • Alienate says:

      Yes. I am expecting Miranda to be tonight’s Fashion Police Special’s “Fash- Ho of the Week”
      Joan Rivers will have a field day tonite. (Monday on E Network)

  47. Dr. Chameleon says:

    Taylor Swift was clearly not singing the choruses. To me that focus on circus spectacle sums up everything that’s wrong with the Grammys and the music industry as a whole (for decades, now). Fortunately there’s still tons of great music and live shows out there for people who aren’t just into dancing clowns.

  48. Bob says:

    Taylor Swift is mediocre, at best. I saw the performance and would give her a C-.

  49. Bob says:

    “Was anyone else mildly to moderately stressed out about the combo of water and electrical equipment on stage? No? Just me? Oh.” Rule of thumb I was taught was water and electrical equipment don’t mix (good old “blue arc” special). Question then becomes, were they really playing their electric instruments? Hmm…..

  50. cjeffery7 says:

    Oksana Baiul shout out! LOL