The Grammys: The good, the bad, and the really, really awkward
Perhaps the biggest surprise from this year's Grammy Awards broadcast is that there are actually some honest-to-god surprises to report, the biggest of which was notoriously indie artists Arcade Fire coming out on top in the Album of the Year category.
Here, we present a rundown of some of the most memorable moments from this year's Grammy Awards, complete with plenty of jaw-dropping and downright awkward moments that'll keep Twitter buzzing for at least the next day or two.
Biggest upset, part one: Arcade Fire lit up Twitter and had indie fans rejoicing with their award for Album of the Year. In an awards ceremony dominated by mainstream artists from Top 40 radio, Arcade Fire's win signals a continuation of the trend toward indie musicians and labels being able to achieve widespread success without the help of the old-school major label hype machine. In the words of Rob Harvilla, music editor of our sister paper the Village Voice, "WE WON."
Biggest upset, part two: Relative unknown Esperanza Spalding, who Prince has championed of late and who performed as part of the Purple One's Welcome 2 America in NYC this winter, took the Best New Artist award, beating out omnipresent pop star Justin Bieber. Within minutes, Spalding's site became overwhelmed with traffic and came crashing down, while Beiber fans took to her Wikipedia page and started vandalizing her bio.
Biggest non-upset: Lady Antebellum sweeping the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Country Album, Best Country Song, and Best Country Performance by Duo/Group categories for their blase country-lite, radio-friendly single "Need You Now." Insert obligatory indie snob eyeroll here.
Best joke played by Bob Dylan: To further enunciate the juxtaposition of his wry, deeply poetic folk-based Americana music with the shamelessly earnest offerings of newcomers Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers, Dylan chose to end the "Tribute to Acoustic Music" segment by pulling out his 1965 classic "Maggie's Farm" -- the song he "went electric" with at the Newport Folk Festival. Well played, Bob. Well played.
Most psychedelic moment: Cee Lo Green performing his hit "Fuck You" (or "Forget You," in FCC-friendly terms) while dressed in a multi-colored, armored Mardi Gras peacock costume and Elton John-inspired sparkly shades, while backed by a crew of second-rate muppets straight out of Fraggle Rock. Oh, and Gwyneth Paltrow came out halfway through the song to trade off verses and traipse around atop a grand piano in four-inch heels. Yep. That happened.
NEXT PAGE: Most awkward moments, plus a list of all the big winners
Most badass performance: Janelle Monae, who tore through her song "Cold War" and jumped out into the crowd to surf atop outstretched arms with her limbs splayed. What a righteous, sincere, balls-out performer. She surely gained a few new fans last night.
Most inconsequential disappointment: Eminem winning Best Rap Album over Jay-Z, Drake, B.O.B., and the Roots. Though his performance with Dr. Dre and Rihanna was nothing to scoff at, I really thought Jay-Z would have taken this one with Blueprint 3, especially given the omnipresent status of his single "Empire State of Mind" (though it did win Best Rap Song). Given the fact that Em has won Best Rap Album five times, including last year for Relapse, it seems like the voters were just on autopilot for this category.
Most overused stage antic: Flames, flames, and more flames lit up performances by Muse, Rihanna with Eminem and Dr. Dre, and Rihanna again when she returned for a sultry duet with Drake on "What's My Name." Arcade Fire, on the other hand, get the WTF award for a performance flooded by an epileptic lights and flanked by BMX bikers wearing helmet cams.
Most awkward outfit: Katy Perry, who ushered her grandmother down the red carpet dressed in a flowing white gown and full set of feathered, light-up wings. The adorable lil pair looked like they were headed straight to heaven.
Most awkward entrance: Lady Gaga, who inexplicably emerged out of a glowing egg to perform her new (Madonna hijacking?) single, "Born This Way." Even with all the stage antics and overproduction, her performance lacked any real oomph and was quickly overshadowed by other performers. Likewise, Katy Perry's set was surprisingly lackluster (and off-key) despite some dramatic choreography and set design.
Most awkward tribute, part one: Mick Jagger, who looked like he broke loose from a cryogenic lab to pay homage to the late Solomon Burke. Dude seemed pretty spry as he bounded around the stage, though, chasing around Raphael Saadiq as they powered through "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love."
Most awkward tribute, part two: The annual "In Memorium" slideshow, which glaringly omitted any mention of East Coast rapper Guru of GangStarr, who passed away last April.
List of the 53rd Annual Grammy Winners (full list):
Album of the Year: Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
Record of the Year: Lady Antebellum, "Need You Now"
Song of the Year: Lady Antebellum, "Need You Now"
Best New Artist: Esperanza Spalding
Best Rap Album: Eminem, Recovery
Best Pop Vocal Album: Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster
Best Alternative Music Album: The Black Keys, Brothers
Best Rock Album: Muse, The Resistance
Best Rap Song: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind"
Best Pop Performance by Duo or Group: Train, "Hey, Soul Sister (Live)"
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: Bruno Mars, "Just the Way You Are"
Best Dance Recording: Rihanna, "Only Girl (In the World)"
Best Electronic Dance Album: La Roux, La Roux
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group: Black Keys, "Tighten Up"
Best Hard Rock Performance: Them Crooked Vultures, "New Fang"
Best Metal Performance: Iron Maiden, "El Dorado"
Best Rock Song: Neil Young, "Angry World"
Best Rap Solo Performance: Eminem, "Not Afraid"
Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group: Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz, "On to the Next One"
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind"
Best R&B Song: John Legend and the Roots, "Shine"
Best Urban/Alternative Performance: Cee Lo, "F*** You"
Best R&B Album: John Legend and the Roots, Wake Up
Best Contemporary R&B Album: Usher, Raymond v Raymond
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Danger Mouse
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