With performances by Radiohead, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Timberlake and Paul McCartney, how could the 51st Grammy Awards go wrong? Despite a night full of star-studded entertainment, the CBS’s broadcast of the Feb. 8 award show fell short this year
Chris Brown and Rihanna were no-shows at the awards, canceling their performances after Brown’s run-in with the police stemming from an alleged physical fight with the “Disturbia” singer. Katy Perry unsuccessfully lip-synched a performance of “I Kissed a Girl,” which was plentiful in fruit, but not in talent. She appeared on stage in a giant, glittery banana and her tropical outfit choice was not any better. Later, a nine-month pregnant M.I.A. stunned audiences with her performance of “Swagga Like Us” with Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, T.I., and Kanye West. Fun fact: M.I.A. took the Grammy stage on her due date.
Despite a few mishaps and shortcomings, many performances and acceptance speeches were humbling and inspiring. Whitney Houston presented the first award of the evening, Best R&B album, to Jennifer Hudson. Hudson was awestruck upon receiving the award, yet she certainly earned the recognition. An emotional and modest speech followed as she thanked her family (including those in heaven and those with her on that very special night), for their support. She later performed “You Pulled Me Through,” from her Grammy-winning album “Jennifer Hudson,” breaking down in tears at its conclusion. Her talent and powerhouse vocals certainly deserved the spotlight that night.
An assortment of excellent musical collaborations also followed. Boyz II Men, Keith Urban, Al Green and Justin Timberlake (who filled in at the last minute for Chris Brown) performed “Let’s Stay Together,” having a blast on stage.
Next, Chris Martin of Coldplay opened up the band’s performance singing part of their song “Lost!” Then, Jay-Z came out to rap alongside Martin until all the members of the British group came together to perform “Viva la Vida,” which won a Grammy for Song of the Year. The band also took home the award for Best Rock Album for “Viva La Vida or Death and all His Friends.” And an energized Carrie Underwood performed her Grammy-winning hit “Last Name.”
Afterwards, Sheryl Crow and LeAnn Rimes presented the Grammy for Best Country Performance with Vocals to Sugarland, and their song “Stay,” which the duo also performed on the show.
Country singer Taylor Swift and pop princess Miley Cyrus sang together, performing Swift’s song “Fifteen,” off of her new album, “Fearless.” Yet, Swift’s soft, tranquil voice was overtaken by Miley’s hoarse, much too powerful take on the song.
Later, the Jonas Brothers performed with Stevie Wonder. First, they sang their hit “Burnin’ Up,” and then Wonder’s “Superstition.” The boys did a respectable job considering the fact that they were performing with a Motown legend and musical genius.
And, amidst rumors of a reunion, Blink-182, and a cast laden Travis Barker, officially announced they are getting back together to make music again.
Ten-time Grammy winner Kanye West performed alongside Estelle to sing their Grammy-winning “American Boy,” which was also nominated for Song of the Year. West and Estelle presented the award for Best New Artist to Adele, who has made her name known through her song “Chasing Pavements.” The soulful singer later performed “Chasing Pavements,” which also won her a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal.
The nominations for Record of the Year included Adele (“Chasing Pavements”), Coldplay (“Viva la Vida”), Leona Lewis (“Bleeding Love”), M.I.A. (“Paper Planes”) and Robert Plant and Allison Krauss (“Please Read the Letter”). Plant (of Led Zeppelin) and Krauss took home the Grammy over four other songs that reached the mainstream in a much larger way. Plant and Krauss later won the elusive Grammy for Album of the Year for “Raising Sand.” The award for Best Male Pop Vocal went to John Mayer for his successful song, “Say,” to which he responded, “I love making music.” And, fans love hearing his music too.
“We are living in times that call for greater collaboration,” Samuel L. Jackson said while introducing T.I. and Justin Timberlake’s performance of “Dead and Gone.” T.I. came out through a cloud of smoke while Timberlake sang and played the piano. The song was especially meaningful to T.I. because it is a tribute to his late friend Philant Johnson.
“I really liked T.I. and Justin Timberlake performing together. They’re really good live,” sophomore Lauren Wank said.
Neil Diamond took viewers back in time, about 40 years to be precise, with his performance of “Sweet Caroline.” We all know the words, yet the performance was unexpected and targeted toward an older audience. The award for Best Rap Album went to Lil Wayne for “Tha Carter III,” who literally jumped for joy at the announcement.
Music’s biggest night on television had its astounding performances and its not so good ones. However, in times like these, music has worked to uplift us and inspire us. And, many of the Grammy performers did just that.