View Full Size 6 / 10   
  • The Deadmau5/Foo Fighters pile-up.
Tags: / Credit: Getty
The Deadmau5/Foo Fighters pile-up. The Foos performed something like 42 times last night and generally remained on-camera just about forever. But their best moment came after Dave Grohl's long-live-the-rock acceptance speech, when they let this blinky-eyed goon throw bass-drops all over "Rope." And, I mean, Deadmau5, wow. For sheer giddy televised ridiculousness, only Nicki Minaj came close last night.

Barely 24 hours before this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony began, Whitney Houston, a woman who’d once seemed like a cyborg engineered to win as many Grammys as possible, was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room. Houston was exactly the sort of artist who the Grammys are built to honor — enormously talented, ridiculously popular, showy in a way that people in the cheap seats could hear just fine, willing to completely ignore any youth-culture musical trends. She was Grammy royalty before her demons brought her down, and the show should’ve bent itself into pretzels to honor her legacy. It should’ve opened with Mariah Carey or Adele or Dolly Parton or maybe even Beyoncé belting out “I Will Always Love You,” and it should’ve thrown tons of clips of her in, every time it went to commercial. That didn’t happen.Instead, we got a fairly obligatory Houston tribute at the end of the dead-people segment, and we got host LL Cool J intoning a quick prayer before hollowly attempting to whip up some crowd excitement. The whole thing felt tone-deaf and perspective-free in the same way that Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy party was. (Houston was in town for that party, thrown by the man who signed her, and staying in the same hotel where the party was. That party went ahead as planned, with all the usual celebrities showing up to mug for cameras, while Houston’s corpse lay three floors up and her teenage daughter freaked out in the lobby. It’s the sort of Rome’s-burning display that makes the music business look like the most clueless and heartless business on earth.) Rather than adjusting things to account for sad reality, this was an average, perfunctory Grammy ceremony and that can be a boring thing indeed.

So: A perfectly adequate Bruce Springsteen opening performance that mostly rankled because it went in the place of something that could’ve been more powerful. A whole lot of senior-citizen performers doing their best to seem fresh and vital. A few headline-grab performances. A runaway winner. Academy president Neil Portnow’s painful annual plea that we all stop downloading music. Rough stuff. But there were a few moments that made the entire three-and-a-half-hour marathon worthwhile. Click the gallery to read about some of them, and check our Comment Party post for the list of winners and videos of the performances.

Comments (31)
  1. I really enjoyed the Beach Boys performance even though that sounded like such a terrible idea on paper. I thought Moves Like Jagger and Pumped Up Kicks was gonna find it’s way into the performance.

    still… nicki minaj… wat the fuck is that Roman Holiday shit?

  2. I don’t see how we could’ve expected such a grand Whitney Houston dedication at the Grammys given how suddenly she passed.

    I mean, that whole performance had to of been mapped out and ready to go TWO days prior. I too would’ve loved to see some Whitney love, but I just don’t see how it would’ve even been possible.

    We act like the people who produce the Grammys are creative individuals.

    • What I felt kind of sucked about the whole Whitney’s death and tribute is that it immensely overshadowed Amy Winehouse’s passing from earlier this year. They barely made mention of Amy outside from the obligatory montage inclusion when I think they might have even celebrated her career with a live tribute of its own, given many of her younger contemporaries were performing and in attendance.

      • And probably some lady name Etta James who was kind of good and didn’t self-destruct her incredible voice like the other two.

        • Etta James got a kinda WTF collaboration between Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt for her tribute, which I thought — despite its WTF-ness given the combo of artists chosen — was an okay way to pay tribute.

          • Well, anyways we can all agree that they were a bunch of ladies with tremendous voices that blew it all away on Heroin or Crack, and ultimately we should celebrate those choices by paying them a great great tribute on a multi-nation-wide broadcast promoting celebrities and pop music and worshiping the almighty dollar I mean great art. Definitely we shouldn’t stop to consider exactly what led them down those paths. Just forget it. They’re dead now and it won’t happen again, not to anybody. Great voices, great choices.

            Hey Adele, I hope you don’t like drugs!

    • Honestly I was happy the whole night didn’t get bogged down with Whitney tributes. I thought they did the right amount of stuff for her, and yeah, about as much as they could have gotten together in the time they had anyway. Definitely don’t understand Tom’s outrage on that one.

  3. Candidate for one of Tom’s best musings: “That party went ahead as planned, with all the usual celebrities showing up to mug for cameras, while Houston’s corpse lay three floors up and her teenage daughter freaked out in the lobby.”

    A few of my thoughts / observances:

    - Willie Nelson sang Coldplay better in the Chipotle commercial than Coldplay did themselves.
    - In light of Whitney’s death, I guess The Boss got some flack for opening up the show with his usual rhetorical question of “Is anyone alive?”
    - Taylor Swift thinks its called “ALLS-TIMERS” disease and my tweet feed confirmed this to be true
    - Taylor + Katy’s scorned ex-girlfriends / wives back to back block came off as pretty petty, especially considering she and Joe Jonas have been dunzo forever and he can get any woman (or man) he wants.

  4. soo…. anyone watch the walking dead?

  5. The hero worship of these stars is exactly what turns people off about the awards shows, and the industry in general. As indie fans, we should have been glad that for once we weren’t waxing Whitney’s idol all night. That over-tribute of someone who just died would have come off as hacky and overdone and it would have represented exactly the kind of overindulgence that produces terrible music and terrible “artists” who dive into the life of a tabloid superstar.

    It was a perfect balance of tribute and celebration for Whitney and for the year in music. I’m glad they didn’t go overboard. Going along with Michael_, a few other thoughts:

    -Dave Grohl’s speech was awesome. Though never really indie, he and the Foo’s are definitely a modern example of doing your own thing in music, being successful, and not really bowing to anyone… and pulling all that off with class and without looking like a major DB.

    -Justin Vernon’s speech was awesome. He stayed true to his beliefs which is more than you can say for a lot of people who pull the ol “the grammy’s are stupid” routine until they win.

    - Was it nice to see Lady Gaga’s goofy ass get nominated and lose every time to Adele? You betcha. she actually wrote and sang her own songs! She didn’t need to climb out of an egg. Or wear a meat suit. Or beat up her significant other. Or develop a massive drug habit. Or lose a bunch of weight. Or had to live her life in the tabloids to win!! Her performance was a no frills celebration of her talent. She’s the ultimate antithesis of modern pop stars like Lady Gaga and Chris Brown.

    -Glen Campbell has swag for days.

    -Foster the People, Maroon 5, and the Beach boys were WAY better than expected. If if Brian Wilson looked barely there.

    -Just the other day I was saying to myself how I was couldn’t wait to hear Paul McCartney’s AND Bruce Springsteen’s new songs! Hooray! Take a page out of Jagger’s Grammy book… when you get to 30+ years in the music biz… you don’t need to reinvent the wheel everytime you are on stage. That being said… so glad McCartney didn’t do the overindulgent and all too cliche all-star version of Hey Jude at the end. He’s working hard to make sure that song loses all meaning by the time he dies and I’m glad he didn’t take another hack at it last night.

    Great work Tom… love your thoughts on the show.

  6. Really? No love for McCartney and friends rocking out to side 2 of arguably the greatest record ever?

  7. chris brown is a fucking demon and couldn’t write a song to save his peroxide. that he won a grammy for, really, a single dece track is pathetic. diplo, afrojack, and busta made that track which made the album and they should all be ashamed of themselves and rihanna should be fucking PISSED.

    why an industry is so determined to redeem a fucking unapologetic douche bag woman beater/biter doesn’t make a drop of sense. we all should have let him MJ rip-off dance his way into obscurity dressed as a run-dmc loser with his 2 cousin’s squealing like the three lil pigs they are and i’m not sorry.

  8. What I remember most about Whitney’s performances is how she always dabbed the sweat on her face with a tissue. Was hoping Jennifer Hudson would have added that detail to her tribute.

  9. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  10. Clueless – Skrillex best electronic of the year – really. Did they just google “new fangled electronically dancing”.

    And as for Guetta. Take outtake/leftover from pop trance circa 1999, tack onto latest pop hit add trend of the day (several months ago) i.e. dub step, press button, will this do, collect money from large american multi corporation, if unavailable contact Mr. C. Harris.

  11. ????????????

  12. I accidentally dropped my laptop from my boat, it was a Dell rolling in the deep.

  13. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

%s1 / %s2