NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 5-year-old nominations show was held outside Los Angeles for the first time and showcased Music City for its growing role in the music industry. The Bridgestone Arena marked the largest venue the show has been held in and it may have been a dress rehearsal for a chance to host the main awards show sometime in the future.
LL Cool J returned as host, sharing duties with Swift, whose hit song "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" earned a nod in the jam-packed record of the year category. She was joined by fun., Gotye, Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," The Black Keys' "Lonely Boy" and Ocean's "Thinkin Bout You."
Song of the year nominees were Ed Sheeran's "The A Team," Miguel's "Adorn," Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" and fun.'s "We Are Young."
Swift and LL Cool J opened the show by putting together a beat-box version of Swift's hit "Mean." Hayes displayed his versatility while announcing the best pop vocal album by singing snippets of each star's hit song. Maroon 5 played headliner, singing three songs mid-show before finishing off the live broadcast. The group stuck around for an hourlong performance afterward for the crowd in attendance.
Assisted by Monae, fun. reimagined "We Are Young" with orchestral strings as the crowd sang along, Ne-Yo, in wine-colored bowler, kicked things up with a cadre of dancers on his new club-infused song "Let Me Love You." And the show tipped its hat to Nashville with a salute to Johnny Cash by Dierks Bentley and The Band Perry.