The Grammys is an occasion not only for honoring artists but also for extravagant performances and overt fashion statements. The weather of California provided the perfect opportunity for female artists to show off skin in their skimpy frocks. The 53rd award show this past Sunday kept the audience on edge by focusing more on performances than handing out gramophones. Some surprise wins and stage stunts added the necessary oomph to the presentation.
Canadian alternative rock band Arcade Fire pulled the biggest underdog win of the night. They beat out Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to win Album of the Year for “The Suburbs.” Esperanza Spalding, a commercially lesser known jazz vocalist, left Justin Bieber fans rather disappointed when she claimed Best New Artist.
Country sensation Lady Antebellum captured five trophies, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Need You Now.” David Letterman utilized the often-confused-categories to deliver a humorous touch. The CBS talk show host appeared in a short clip titled “Top 10 biggest surprises at the Grammys.”
Number four on the list said “The Academy president finally explains the difference between Record of the Year and Song of the Year.” (In plain English, Record of the Year honors the artist/producer of the track while the latter recognizes to the songwriter.)
Also on the list was “Lindsay Lohan seen leaving Staples Center with Grammy-shaped bulge in her jacket.” This entry clearly referenced the recent grand theft charge against the actress/singer who allegedly stole $2500 worth of jewelries.
Christina Aguilera, Martina McBride, Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine), Jennifer Hudson and Yolanda Adams opened the Grammys in a tribute to Aretha Franklin, receiver of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. An on-stage incident at the end of this medley set Christina Aguilera up as the target for gossip. A week after messing up the lyrics to the national anthem at the Super Bowl, she slipped and almost fell off the stage as the audience rose for a standing ovation.
One of the spectacles this year was the much-anticipated performance by Lady Gaga. The pop star arrived in a giant egg carried by scantily-clad men, which symbolized her incubation. She “hatched” to perform the second act – her newest single “Born This Way.”
Gaga was dressed in a yolk-colored two-piece costume and gave a performance that was rather tame compared to her usual over-the-top appearance. The track “Born This Way,” which was released two days prior, received criticism for resembling Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” The bridge lyrics (“Don’t be a drag, just be a queen”) sends a clear advocacy message to the gay community.
However, neither Lady Gaga’s grand entrance nor David Letterman’s wit could top Cee Lo Green’s outrageously colorful feather costume and comical throng of Muppets as band members and back-up singers.
A heart-felt moment played out with a video of Justin Bieber performing “You Got It Bad” to Usher for the first time. Rihanna dominated the stage twice, first in a dark ballad with Eminem and then in a booty-shaking number with Drake.
Although the award show takes place in one night, nominees for the Grammys had generated a lot of buzz in the week prior. Rihanna’s restraining order against ex-boyfriend Chris Brown was relaxed so that the two could both attend the show. Justin Bieber had a successful weekend at the box office with his 3D flick “Never Say Never.” Lady Gaga’s “60 Minutes” interview with Anderson Cooper also aired minutes before the Grammys.
As usual, the Grammys garners so much attention, labor and money from laying out the red carpet to dressing stars with designer gowns. Talents and entertainment aside, this industry event has and will always serve as a publicity opportunity for musical artists.