No matter who took home trophies at the 2013 Grammy Awards, it was going to be a big night for Fun.
Not only were the “We Are Young” rockers nominated for six awards (tied with Mumford & Sons, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Frank Ocean for most nods), their tally also included the Big Four categories of Best New Artist and Record, Album and Song of the Year. On top of that, they also nabbed one of the most coveted honors of the night: a chance to perform in front of an audience of millions.
In the third live performance of the night, following Taylor Swift’s sprint down the rabbit hole and Elton John and Ed Sheeran’s hashtaggy ballad, the New York band took the stage in beefed-up six-piece form and proceeded to make it rain on the audience, literally and figuratively, for a rousing rendition of their hit “Carry On.”
Neil Patrick Harris, himself no stranger to a belted, showy tune, introduced the band, joking: “As legendary gangsta-rap icon Katharine Hepburn once said, ‘If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.’
“The group about to take the stage has made up their own rules on their express ride to six, count ‘em six, Grammy nominations,” he continued. “They’re so awesome they might want to change the period in their name to an exclamation point. By any name, this group is remarkable.”
Fun. showed us just what he meant. The band started on a somber setting, with frontman Nate Ruess accompanied by plaintive piano chords that set a reflective mood, before they bounded collectively into the song’s rousing second verse of galloping drums and group vocals.
Behind the band, a backdrop of a blue-and-red-lit New York skyline loomed, with glowing bubbles of light floating through the air and the static of old black-and-white film reels crackling on screens above.
” ‘Cause we are, we are shining stars/ We are invincible, we are who we are/ On our darkest day, when we’re miles away/ So we’ll come, we will find our way home,” the group exploded in choral unison, just as the waters emptied from above, drenching the band and, in particular, Jack Antonoff in the middle of his explosive solo. Perhaps that downpour explains why Ruess was wearing such high-ankled flood pants and Antonoff was decked out in a Ghostbusters-style jumpsuit?
Shortly after the performance, the band won Song of the Year for “We Are Young.” “I don’t know what I was thinking writing the chorus for this song,” Ruess said onstage. “If this is in HD, everybody can see our faces, and we are not very young,” he joked. “We’ve been doing this for 12 years, and I’ve just got to say we could not do this without the help of all of the fans we’ve had keeping us afloat for the past 12 years. I guess we felt like your best kept secret for all that time.”
As Antonoff explained prior to the ceremony, just being at the Grammys feels like winning already.
“It’s been a 12-year journey to get to where we’ve gotten to this year, and to be recognized with the nominations, it’s a crazy rush of images and experiences in your head; all of the things like Andrew literally eating out of dumpsters, sleeping on floors, playing shows and asking people if they had a room we could sleep in … and it all got us to this point.”