Gaga for Grammys: Lil' Wayne's pants, Pink's stunts and other highlights from music's biggest night
Pink performs while suspended above the stage during the 2010 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Calif. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
The 52nd Grammy Awards ended with a bang, courtesy of an explosive collaborative performance by Lil' Wayne, his Canadian crony Drake and brooding MC Eminem. But that wasn't the only standout moment in the three hour-plus ceremony. The night certainly offered its share of remarkable points -- both high and low.
1) That triple-decker assault of hip hop swagger. Sure, Lil' Wayne appeared to be doing an interpretive dance rendition of the recent viral hit Pants on the Ground, thanks to an unfortunate fashion misdemeanour. (Note to Weezy: Invest in a belt.) But compared to some of the awkward teamwork we saw earlier in the show -- Taylor Swift trying to keep up with Stevie Nicks; Mos Def co-presenting with a confused Placido Domingo -- the flashy rap finale offered something truly special: an example of the magic that happens when heavyweights who can carry a performance on their own work together in true harmony. Even sporadic bouts of radio silence caused by anxious censors couldn't dampen the ferocity of Eminem's aggressive rhymes, Wayne's rangy energy and Drake's effortless hipness. They were deftly assisted by drummer Travis Barker's stuttering work behind the kit.
2) Pink's high-wire stunts. The 30-year-old pop powerhouse has been known to break out some death-defying moves during her impressive stage shows, but I doubt anyone (aside from her husband Carey Hart) was expecting the performance art-inspired foray into aerial choreography that unfolded during Pink's too-brief Grammy appearance. The flesh-coloured body-stocking, water cascades and acrobatics weren't nearly as impressive as the fact that she sang in tune -- and beautifully.
3) Maxwell's breezy duet with Roberta Flack. The neo-soul godfather simply oozes class. He glided across that stage with the grace and elegance of an old-time crooner, as ice-cool as the shimmering strings of blue twinkle lights that hovered over the stage. And Maxwell used that old-fashioned charm to channel Donny Hathaway during his performance of that singer's Where Is The Love with the legendary Roberta Flack.
4) The tribute to the late, great Les Paul. There was no question that revered axeman Jeff Beck would do justice to the memory of the man who presenter Jeff Bridges introduced as "the original guitar hero," but the addition of Irish singer Imelda May into the brilliantly breezy cover of How High the Moon was a stroke of genius. Her coquettish, swingy vocals and anachronistic style were a pleasant surprise.
5) Lady Gaga and Elton John: a match made in heaven? We've come to expect outre antics from the first Lady of contemporary dance-pop, so Gaga's strange get-up -- was she a woodland nymph? A floral heart? -- was par for the course. But her dueling pianos shtick with a similarly attired Elton John was both fascinating and strangely affecting. On a certain level, you had to wonder why these two rhinestone cowpokes hadn't teamed up before.
1) Blame It. The heinous crime committed against ears everywhere that occurred when Jamie Foxx teamed up with Auto-Tune arch-villain T-Pain and real-life Cat in the Hat Slash. (In recognition of the legacy of rap artist Doug E. Fresh, I am omitting his name from the list of first-degree offenders.) Blame it on the alcohol? No, Jamie. I blame it on YOU.
2) The Dave Matthews Band. I don't care if the band is popular. Nobody needs to see an uncomfortable-looking Dave Matthews essay awkward, mawkish dance moves, surrounded by a cast of thousands. Nobody.
3) Convincing the late Michael Jackson's children to appear onstage. Who made the decision to trot out Paris and Prince Michael so that we could watch those poor grieving pre-teens choke out a few words to honour the memory of their beloved father? Exploitative and completely inappropriate.
4) Disrespectful tributes. From the short, inchoate pretaped homages (and hasty intros) to lifetime achievement award-winners like Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Loretta Lynn, to the maudlin musical tributes to the late Michael Jackson and Haiti (the latter in the form of a terrible Bridge Over Troubled Water done by the odd couple of Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli), none of the night's most important moments carried the proper amount of gravitas.
5) Terrible presenters. No offense intended to the celebrities who showed up and gave it their best effort -- the fault here lies with the fools at NARAS who created painfully awkward pairings between their participating stars. Ke$ha towered over a sheepish looking Justin Bieber. Placido Domingo desperately searched for a clue as to the identity of his partner-in-introduction, Mos Def. Colombian musician Juanes tried to work with the dumb script that linked him to his co-presenter, Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco. And why was Adam Sandler there?
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