Last night, the 54th annual Grammy Awards went exactly according to plan– singer Adele dominated the evening. The ceremony served as well-deserved recognition that 2011 belonged to soulful British queen. Adele was victorious in ever major category she was nominated in, including Best Pop Solo Performance, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and the highly coveted Album of the Year for her breakout hit 21. The accolades came as a surprise to no one because she honestly deserved them all. After her live performance of “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele was again honored with a thunderous standing ovation.
Another focal point of the evening was remembering the death of Whitney Houston. This year’s host, LL Cool J, began the evening with a prayer, stating, “We’ve had a death in our family.” (Cool J might seem like a strange choice for a host until you realize that he stars in NCIS: Los Angeles, a show which just so happens to air on CBS). Jennifer Hudson later paid tribute to Houston by performing her famous song “I Will Always Love You.”
Fortunately, the Grammys focus less on the actual awards and more on the live performances (who really needs to see famous people pat themselves on the back). Like every year, there were some outstanding displays of talent as well as some head-scratchers. Bruno Mars sang a high-energy rendition of “Runaway Baby” and Maroon 5 and Foster the People paid tribute to the Beach Boys. My personal favorite was the Foo Fighters playing “Walk,” although it would have been nice to see them actually play inside the Staples Center. Years from now, the most memorable performance will end up being Adele who brought the house down.
The stranger performances came from Chris Brown who danced on a mountain of light up blocks (and didn’t sing much) and the blue-haired Katy Perry who sang inside a glass cube (maybe it was a glass case of emotion). The trophy for weirdness goes to Nicki Minaj who put on a dramatic production involving lots of church imagery. It feels like anyone who tries to do the “weird” act just seems like they’re doing a Lady Gaga impression. Somehow when Gaga does goes for weird, it seems sincere, but when others try it seems fake.
Best acceptance speech goes to Dave Grohl, the lead singer of the Foo Fighters for their award for Best Rock Performance. This award was extra special for the Foo Fighters because their albumWasting Light was recorded in Grohl’s garage using analog tape– basically, it was made without computers. During the speech, Grohl stressed the importance of authenticity and that making music is “not about being perfect.”
For me, the most pleasant surprise of the night was that Bon Iver won Best New Artist. I had a feeling he might not win because technically, Bon Iver a.k.a Justin Vernon has been around since 2007. Part of me was also hoping that the award would go to electronic artist Skrillex. In the span of only a year, Skrillex went from being unknown to widely popularizing dubstep.
At the end of the night, the stage was given to the biggest star in the room– Paul McCartney. As the performance fittingly concluded with the Beatle song “The End,” McCartney was joined on stage by Dave Grohl, Joe Walsh, and Bruce Springsteen.