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Twice in recent years, a live recording of a
studio hit has
won a Grammy.
GREIN ON GRAMMY NOMS,
A POSTSCRIPT
The "Live" End-Run Around the Grammy Rules

By Paul Grein

Have you heard the latest? John Legend's "All of Me" and Pharrell Williams' "Happy" will be allowed to compete for Grammys for Record of the Year after all, even though the hit singles were first released in the previous eligibility year. The reason? Live versions of both hits were released during the current eligibility period.

"All of Me (Live)" and "Happy (Live)," which is how they'll be identified, are also eligible for Best Pop Solo Performance.

Could either or both of these live recordings actually get nominated? Sure. Twice in recent years, a live recording of a studio hit has won a Grammy. Train's "Hey, Soul Sister (Live)" won the 2010 Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals. Two years later, Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain (Live)" won for Best Pop Solo Performance.

"Hey Soul Sister (Live)" was entered because the studio version of that sleeper hit been entered in that same category the previous year (before the song really took off). "Set Fire to the Rain (Live)" was entered because the studio version was part of her 21 album, which won Grammys the previous year. (Tracks from Grammy-winning albums are not eligible in subsequent years.)

Neither of those live versions was nominated for Record of the Year, though both were eligible.

I bet most Grammy viewers—and even many Grammy voters—thought those were the original studio recordings being honored (even though both had the word "Live" in parentheses following the title).

Two other live versions of hits were nominated for Grammys in recent years, but didn't win. Beyonce's "Halo (Live)" was nominated for the 2010 Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Betty Wright's "Go (Live)" was nominated for the 2010 Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.

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