The Grammys are like a graduation ceremony. You only really care about what's going on if you're the one graduating, or a parent. Everyone else scans the notice in the newspaper, sends gift certificates and prays they aren't so closely related as to be invited to the inevitably dull, marathon ceremony.
The 53rd annual Grammy awards, airing at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 on CBS live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, will boast plenty of pomp and likely little circumstance. This year's telecast will contain few actual awards (last year, only nine of the 109 awarded trophies were handed out on-air) and a lot of contrived, collaborative performances, such as Usher singing with his mop-topped protégé, Justin Bieber, and Bieber duet pal Jaden Smith; a trio of 2010's biggest pop-R&B success stories, comprised of Bruno Mars, B.o.B. and Janelle Monae; a first-ever duet between rapper Drake and singer Rihanna; and an FCC-challenging (but no doubt dumbed-down) performance of the hit f-word song by Cee Lo Green, complete with actress Gwyneth Paltrow and ... the Muppets. Even Mick Jagger will join Raphael Saadiq and his band for the requisite obit reel.
Other scheduled performers during the show include the band Arcade Fire, Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, Muse and Katy Perry. (Rumors persist that a surprise Britney Spears performance is in the offing. There is nothing as yet to substantiate them.)
For those actually interested in the Recording Academy's stated mission "to honor artistic achievement ... without regard to album sales or chart position," there could be a few horse races in this year's Grammys -- if Eminem doesn't sweep all 10 of his nominations. He dominates the field, with Mars bearing seven nominations, and Jay-Z, Lady Antebellum and Lady Gaga each with six. (Full list of nominations is here, plus Chicago nominees.)
Here's a look at a few of the bouts set up for "music's biggest night" ...