On Sunday, Jan. 31, millions around the United States hunkered down in front of their televisions at 8 pm, Eastern Time, to view the 52 annual Grammy Awards. The top names in the music industry swept up the red carpet, adorned in the most glitzy and unusual garments, to watch the award distributions and intense musical numbers. Always a captivating awards show, this year’s Grammy celebration was like no other.
The show opened with “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga in her usual, or maybe unusual, style. She then returned to the stage with Elton John in a musical duet that rivaled John’s last Grammy performance with Eminem in 2001. The night was off to a fantastic start musically. The first couple of awards, Song of the Year for Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”, Record of the Year for “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon, and Country Album of the Year (awarded to Taylor Swift) showcased the high diversity of this year’s nominees. Most of the industry’s most popular names, including Swift, Beyonce, Kings of Leon, and the Black Eyed Peas, were up for numerous awards and considerations.
The night continued with fantastic performances by Beyonce and P!NK. The Black Eyed Peas took the stage with a fantastic rendition of “I’ve Got a Feeling” and Taylor Swift graced the stage with her idol, Stevie Nicks. Country group Lady Antebellum performed one of their more popular songs and Green Day joined the cast of their newly inspired Broadway show to perform “21 Guns.” More awards were also distributed: New Artist went to the Zac Brown Band and Rock Album went to Green Day.
While some performances definitely stood out, a few seemed slightly lackluster for the Grammy stage. Maxwell sung a slow graceful ballad while a powerful group featuring Lil Wayne, Eminem, and Drake seemed more focused on effects than the musical abilities of the artists. However, audience members seemed pleased overall with the performances, as many stood up and danced along with the music.
Allowing for audience participation at home, Bon Jovi performed three songs live, accompanied with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles. Viewers at home could vote for the last song of the set during the awards ceremony and the actual performance. The winner? One of Jovi’s most popular songs, “Livin on a Prayer.”
The most inspirational moments of the Grammys this year did not come from acceptance speeches, but from memorable performances. Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Smoky Robinson, and Carrie Underwood took to the stage in memory of Michael Jackson, practically singing one of his songs with him. Two of his children, Paris and Prince, accepted his lifetime achievement award with tears and thanks. Then, Mary J. Blige and Andre Bocelli joined forces to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in memory of those lost in Haiti in a moment that was both brilliant and moving.
Overall, the Grammy Awards this year were momentous, exciting, and filled with the usual intrigue of the music industry. The final award of the night, Album of the Year, went to the young and thoroughly surprised Taylor Swift, who accepted graciously. Hopefully, next year’s Grammy Awards can compete with the show Sunday night.