Grammy performances provide eclectic mix of music, theatrics

Let’s face it: The Grammys are less an award show and more a high-tech, 3 1/2-hour concert. And unlike MTV’s VMAs or the Country Music Awards, the Grammys encompass every genre, making for an eclectic, if disjointed, evening.

LL Cool J played host to the spectacle, which aired Sunday from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

According to Reuters, 28 million Americans tuned in to “music’s biggest night” – a 30 percent dip from last year. Because the 2012 Grammys took place in the wake of Whitney Houston’s sudden passing, analysts were not surprised by lower ratings. Nevertheless CBS earned its second-largest TV audience for a live broadcast since 1993.

Returning viewers were treated to a diverse mix of theatrical performances, with Taylor Swift providing the opening number. Her upbeat “Alice in Wonderland”-themed rendition of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” set the tone for the remainder of the evening.

Later, Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa and R&B singer Miguel teamed up to perform “Adorn.” The two matched in funky black and white blazers, but critics argued that Miguel far outshined Khalifa vocally.

“Basically, we had an overachiever overachieving while an underachiever underachieved,” The Atlantic said of the duo.

One of the most buzzed about moments belonged to Justin Timberlake. The tuxedo-clad entertainer sang his new hit “Suit & Tie” in sepia tone. Jay-Z hopped onstage for a joint performance, leading to further speculation that the two will tour together this summer.

The night also featured a star-studded list of presenters. Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, Prince, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Johnny Depp, Ellen Degeneres and Beyonce all had the honor of crowning winners.

Though most of the ceremony was dominated by household names, the most coveted awards went to newer artists.

Nominated for six Grammys, indie rock trio fun. performed their single “Carry On” early in the show. They picked up awards for best new artist and song of the year for “We Are Young.” Member Nate Ruess expressed his amazement as well as his regard for the other nominees.

“I didn’t think we were gonna win this one – Frank Ocean, the Lumineers – everyone is so awesome,” he said.

Record of the Year went to Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Released in mid-2011, the song peaked in 2012 and has sold more than seven million downloads in the U.S.

But it was Mumford & Sons who took home the biggest title of the night. Their second studio album, “Babel,” won album of the year.

“We figured we weren’t going to win because the Black Keys have been sweeping up all day – and deservedly so,” frontman Marcus Mumford said in his acceptance speech.

The Keys certainly didn’t walk away empty-handed. They left with best rock performance, best rock song and best rock album.

 

APRIL SHERNISKY

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