Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars, Usher, & Lupe Fiasco Salute Grammy Nominees

Grammy season got underway with a star-studded concert held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles on Wednesday night (Nov. 30). During the one-hour special, “The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown to Music’s Biggest Night,” Lady Gaga performed twice—once by herself and a second time with country duo Sugarland.

LL Cool J hosted, Nicki Minaj presented the Record of the Year nominees, Ludacris teamed up with Jason Aldean for a country-meets-rap collabo, and Usher joined Valerie Simpson and Mike Stoller in a moving tribute to songwriters Nick Ashford and Jerry Leiber.

Lupe Fiasco, Common, and LL Cool J paid homage to the hip-hop classic “The Message” by linking with Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel. Backstage, a surprised Melanie Fiona gushed over her two nominations with Cee Lo Green for “Fool for You” and Bruno Mars celebrated with his production partners Phil Smeezington and Ari Levine.

“It means that we’re kinda the coolest kids on the block this year,” said Bruno of his six nods. “We worked extremely hard on [‘Grenade’] and I can speak for all of us when I say we’re most proud of that song.”

Kanye West leads the nominations for the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, airing February 12. See a full list of nominees.

Nicki Minaj Presents Record of the Year

Usher Performs with Valerie Simpson and Mike Stoller

Melanie Fiona

Bruno Mars, Phil Smeezington, and Ari Levine