9 Highlights and Lowlights of the Four-Hour Grammy Telecast

If you survived all 200+ minutes of the last night's Grammy telecast, you numbered among the lucky ones. Or is it the unlucky ones? The night's biggest awards went to lackluster choices (including a particularly disappointing Record of the Year win for Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody"), and one speech reminded us of cinema's greatest faux-gracious award recipient. Unfasten your seatbelts for a review of music's stodgiest, bumpiest night.

1. Beyonce may be a primed performer, and Taylor Swift may be the fun ingenue, but the only exciting -- or mildly unpredictable -- pop phenom at the moment is Lady Gaga. Her performance with Elton John put his old duet with Eminem to shame, and her vocal prowess, full of rasp, carnality, and camp, was revelatory. She began with a standard take on "Poker Face," staged a fall into a fire pit, and then emerged looking charred and cooked with Elton, where they teamed up on dueling pianos for a medley of "Speechless" and "Your Song." Pretty genius that Gaga -- arguably the glitteriest performer alive -- took former glitter king Elton and contrived a stripped-down, even un-shiny performance.

2. Wyclef Jean appeared on stage and talked about Haiti, not the Fugees. Roberta Flack appeared later to perform "Where is the Love" (with Maxwell), and not "Killing Me Softly with His Song." Offstage, Jean and Flack are awarded the honorary Grammy for Finding Clever Ways Not to Remind Everyone of Lauryn Hill.

3. Grammy night's not-gonna-happen nominee Pink staged an acrobatic performance of "Glitter in the Air." It wasn't much different from her VMAs trapeze act, but her ability to sing while spinning in mid-air and not barf was... well, it was a relief.

4. Little songwriting bunny Taylor Swift had already won two Grammys before the telecast (Best Country Vocal Performance, and Best Country Song for "White Horse"). But when the 20-year-old won her first in-ceremony Grammy for Best Country Album, we were treated to the following soundbite: "This is my first time walking up those stairs to accept a Grammy on national television!" Oh! Good! Couple of things: 1) That would only be cute if she had, say, galloped to the stage for the previous awards. And 2) That's the most Eve Harrington-esque quote I have ever heard at an awards show. Who at home wasn't giving their best Bette Davis smirk at that moment? Swift's year-long humility tour piqued tonight, and I expect the backlash against her to ignite now. I'll actually start it off: "You Belong With Me" was the most generic radio hit of last year. There. Go on, carry the torch, everyone.

5. Green Day performed "21 Guns" in the style of a Broadway musical with a bunch of Lea Michele doppelgangers. The memories of "Longview" and "When I Come Around" are all but embers now, and not even in a cool Gaga fire-vat way.

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  • sweetbiscuit says:

    That's Morissette’s stripped-down AND UNCENSORED rendition of "You Oughta Know." Is this really the clip of what was broadcast that year? CBS couldn't stop blanking lyrics last night, which I guess I understand with Eminem, but why would Beyonce do a snippet of this song if she was going to censor herself? She just omitted the key phrase altogether. Baffling.

  • Louis Virtel says:

    Oh, it was certainly censored then. They cut off the line after "And are you thinking of me when you --." Thank you for pointing out the hidden jewel in this clip!

  • TimGunn says:

    The Beyonce version of You Ooughta Know was also part of her tour this summer.

  • sweetbiscuit says:

    I thought Pink's performance was great because she really sounded wonderful -- strong and on key and not strained, even though she was essentially naked and spinning sideways and wet. Taylor Swift on the other hand, was fully clothed, upright, dry, and still couldn't stay on pitch.

  • QueenBecky says:

    I like Beyonce, but she could not sing Alanis Morisette. It was like an American Idol contestant trying to sing Whitney Houston. They just don't cut it.

  • Rafaela says:

    I hear ya, and totally agree. Beyonce couldn't reach Alanis vocals in this lifetime.
    And sorry, but Taylor Who? Geez... talk about awards not having any taste anymore (Golden Globes, SAGs, Grammys...)

  • Annie says:

    Mary J Blige performed with Andrea Bocelli NOT Placido Domingo LMAO

  • Louis Virtel says:

    Woah, thank you for that note! Just comes to show how eager I was to use the phrase "Pla-Mingo."

  • Dimo says:

    Favorite moment: During the MJ tribute, the camera cuts to Will i am and his retardedly placed 3D glasses. This coming from the man that was a freaking hologram on election night!

  • NoWireHangers says:

    Your Eve Harrington analogy was SPOT ON. Bravo.
    Taylor Swift needs a swift slap. You were surprised? Really? After taking home about 40% of all the awards offered this season? Really? Where's Kanye West when you need him?

  • no. im 14 and i can do more weight in all of those and im not even trying to a body builder.