Death Cab for Cutie got playfully political on the red carpet at Sunday's 51st annual Grammy Awards, making a pitch to stamp out "autotune abuse in music."

"Autotuning is a digital manipulation, a correction of a singer's voice that is affecting literally thousands of singers today and thousands of records that are coming out," said the group's frontman, Ben Gibbard. "So we just want to raise awareness while we're here and try to bring back the blue note. ... The note that's not so perfectly in pitch and just gives the recording some soul and some kind of real character.

"It's how people really sing."

As he spoke, Gibbard was joined by his three bandmates, each one wearing a blue ribbon pinned to his jacket in what the group said was an effort "to raise awareness of autotune abuse in music."

Death Cab for Cutie was nominated for best alternative music album.


Who needs reporters?

Sheryl Crow and Taylor Swift interviewed each other on the rep carpet.

"So you're performing? With Miley (Cyrus)?" Crow asked Swift after the two exchanged hugs.

"Yeah, with Miley," Swift said." It's a song off my album called 'Fifteen' that hasn't even been released yet, so I'm really excited."

Next topic: Dresses and diamonds.

"We own our own diamonds here. These are ours," Crow joked as she showed off a massive gilded bracelet she said "could put my child through college."

"Really? I was going to say mine are completely not mine," Swift said.

Actually, both women discovered they were wearing borrowed bling from Lorraine Schwartz.

"We're going to steal them," Crow said. "She's awesome."


George Carlin got the last laugh, winning a posthumous Grammy for his final album "It's Bad for Ya."

It was released in July, a month after the comedian died of a heart attack at 71.

Kelly Carlin-McCall accepted her father's fifth career Grammy, this time in the comedy album category. He has also won in the spoken comedy category.

"It's like the cherry on the top of a really big, beautiful cake," she said backstage. "I'm just so happy people are honouring my father, yet he's not here and I'd rather have him."

Onstage, Carlin-McCall promised she would treat the Grammy better than her father did with his first in 1972 for the album "FM and AM."

She explained that he took the statuette apart at a time in his life "when a lot of chemicals were being used by a lot of human beings. It was in pieces and someone from the (Recording) Academy found out and sent him a new one."


Katy Perry had dreamed for months of coming on stage inside a giant glittering banana. Still, she was a bit surprised when the Grammy people said go ahead and do it.

"I had the idea about a year ago," she said backstage after peeling out of the banana for her performance.

"I was like really? I can descend from the ceiling in a glittering banana into a fruit bowl of androgynous dancers?"

But even though the whimsical set was inspired by her design, Perry was having some last-minute second thoughts before the show went on.

"I was definitely really nervous up there in that banana," she said. "It was like before I had my first kiss: I didn't know what it was going to be like or if they were going to judge me."

Perry was nominated for female pop vocal performance for her smash hit "I Kissed a Girl."


She's awaiting a kidney transplant and struggling to keep her hepatitis C in check but none of that could keep Natalie Cole from showing up Sunday to collect the ninth Grammy of her career.

Cole, who turned 59 on Friday, was honoured for traditional pop vocal album for "Still Unforgettable."

"It took me a minute just to get my stamina back," the daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole said backstage. But when she did get it back, she added, she was still able to put plenty of kick into her music.

Cole must undergo kidney dialysis three times a week, and on Sunday she wore a gown with a strap that hid the catheter implanted near her collarbone for the procedure.

Cole took some flak when she criticized last year's big Grammy winner, Amy Winehouse, for her struggles with substance abuse.

"I got into a bit of hot water for what I said about Amy Winehouse and I still say it again," said Cole. "I'm an ex-drug addict and I don't take that kind of stuff lightly."

Hepatitis C is a liver disease spread through contact with infected blood. Cole believes she contracted it through heroin use more than 20 years ago.

"It stayed in my body for 25 years and it could still happen to this young woman or other addicts who are fooling around with drugs, especially needles," she said. "I would hope that what happened to me does not happen to her."


Some celebrities used their downtime from Grammy rehearsals to visit the posh gift suite set up for their enjoyment.

Grammy nominee Katy Perry walked around trying on pricey sunglasses and picking up jewelry, asking her entourage for advice on what earrings to pick out.

"The long or the short?" she asked, as she held up a sparkly pair on Friday.

Song of the year nominee Jason Mraz also came through, though he looked a little befuddled when a representative from a flat iron company tried to lure him to pick up one of their products. He ended up getting one, but a representative said he was picking up gifts for his mother.

It wasn't the only place where stars could get gifted. At the Grammy Style Studio, stars could get facials, makeup treatments and sneakers, as well as wine from Barry Manilow's winery. They could also borrow designer dresses to wear to Grammy week events.

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