Beyoncé and Taylor Swift clean up at Grammys; performances the real highlight of the show

The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards as a television show weren't really much about the awards themselves, but rather the performances, which I suppose is how it should be. Unlike the Oscars and Emmys, the ceberation of the best in music can actually SHOW everyone the best in music without having to rely on brief clips and a hope that the audience has already seen the movies and shows.

Sure, Beyoncé won a female-record 6 Grammys this year, and Taylor Swift won 4 of her own (including the "big one": Album of the Year). And there were a host of other multiple winners on the night, including Kings of Leon, The Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Jason Mraz, and the great Béla Fleck (a personal favourite). All wonderful news. But since most of those awards were handed out off-camera and not on the televised show itself, it was the performances that made this year's Grammys worth watching (for any pop music fan, anyway).

Starting the night of song and spectacle was Lady Gaga, who partway through her performance was joined by Elton John for a medley of her "Speechless" and his "Your Song". Beyoncé Knowles performed a medley of her own "If I Were a Boy" with a cover of Alanis Morisette's "You Oughta Know", while Pink brought out her inner Cirque du Soleil acrobat for a haunting performance of "Glitter in the Air" that saw her singing while moving and spinning above the crowd. Green Day, whose album American Idiot is apparently hitting Broadway in March in musical theatre form (how punk rock of them!), were joined by members of that cast for a version of "21 Guns", and the Black Eyed Peas sang a futuristic medley of "Imma Be" and "I Gotta Feeling".

You'd think that would be enough, but you'd be wrong. That was just the first hour! Robert Downey, Jr. (hilariously introduced as "the most self-important actor of his generation") tried to class up the joint with some opera, which was just a clever way to get Jamie Foxx out there to sing a couple of his hits, joined partway through by T-Pain, Doug E. Fresh, and Slash pulling out a bit of the "November Rain" solo. And the collaborations didn't end there. Zac Brown Band were joined by the legendary Leon Russell for a medley; the Dave Matthews Band were joined by a choir and strings/horns for "You and Me"; Maxwell was joined by Roberta Flack for "Where is the Love"; and Taylor Swift was joined by Stevie Nicks for Swift's "You Belong With Me" and Nicks' "Rhiannon".

In a tribute to the late Les Paul, guitar legend Jeff Beck accompanied singer Imelda May for a jazzy rendition of "How High the Moon", and in a tribute to the recently-ravaged country of Haiti, Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli performed a duet of the Simon and Garfunkle classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (which can be downloaded via iTunes to support Haiti relief).

The biggest production of the night was a virtual collaboration on "Earth Song" between the late Michael Jaskson and Jennifer Hudson, Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Smokey Robinson, and Usher. It featured a special 3-D background (glad I had those Nightmare on Elm Street 3-D glasses on hand) and was followed by comments from Jackson's children Prince and Paris. Bon Jovi also hit the stage for a trio of tunes: "We Weren't Born to Follow", "Who Says You Can't Go Home", and the fan-selected "Livin' on a Prayer".

Capping off the night was a big performance (backed by Travis Barker on drums) from Lil' Wayne, Drake, and Eminem, which was actually pretty sweet to see. Who'd have thought little Aubrey Graham from Degrassi: The Next Generation would grow up to headline the Grammys with two hip-hop powerhouses? (Too bad half the performance was blanked out by censors.)

What's that? You wanted to get back to the actual hardware itself? I suppose if that sort of thing is important to you, you can take at the list below, which includes a good chunk of the winners (the full list is available at the Grammy website). While many of the winners were newer acts (Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon), the Grammy winners aren't quite as cutting-edge as OUR nominees and winners for the best music of 2009. So be sure to check out this year's Melodic Monkey Alternative Music Awards as well!

The Big Ones

Album of the Year: Fearless - Taylor Swift

Record of the Year: "Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon

New Artist: Zac Brown Band

Song of the Year: "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" - Beyoncé

Pop / Dance

Pop Vocal Album: The E.N.D. - The Black Eyed Peas

Female Pop Vocal Performance: "Halo" - Beyoncé

Male Pop Vocal Performance: "Make it Mine" - Jason Mraz

Pop Performance by a Duo or Group: "I Gotta Feeling" - The Black Eyed Peas

Pop Collaboration: "Lucky" - Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat

Electronic/Dance Album: The Fame - Lady Gaga

Dance Recording: "Poker Face" - Lady Gaga

Remixed Recording, Non-Classical: "When Love Takes Over" - David Guetta ft. Kelly Rowl&

Pop Instrumental Album: Potato Hole - Booker T. Jones

Pop Instrumental Performance: "Throw Down Your Heart" - Béla Fleck

Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Michael Bublé Meets Madison Square Garden - Michael Bublé


Rock Album: 21st Century Breakdown - Green Day

Rock Song: "Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon

Solo Rock Vocal Performance: "Working on a Dream" - Bruce Springsteen

Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: "Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon

Hard Rock Performance: "War Machine" - AC/DC

Metal Performance: "Dissident Aggressor" - Judas Priest

Rock Instrumental Performance: "A Day in the Life" - Jeff Beck

Alternative Music Album: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - Phoenix

R&B / Hip-Hop

R&B Album: BLACKsummers' Night - Maxwell

Contemporary R&B Album: I Am... Sasha Fierce - Beyoncé

Female R&B Vocal Performance: "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" - Beyoncé

Male R&B Vocal Performance: "Pretty Wings" - Maxwell

R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: "Blame It" - Jamie Foxx & T-Pain

Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: "At Last" - Beyoncé

Urban/Alternative Performance: "Pearls" - India.Arie & Dobet Gnahore

R&B Song: "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" - Beyoncé

Rap Album: Relapse - Eminem

Rap Solo Performance: "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)" - Jay-Z

Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: "Crack a Bottle" - Eminem, Dr. Dre & 50 Cent

Rap Song: "Run This Town" - Jay-Z, Rihanna & Kanye West

Rap/Sung Collaboration: "Run This Town" - Jay-Z, Rihanna & Kanye West

Country & Folk

Country Album: Fearless - Taylor Swift

Female Country Vocal Performance: "White Horse" - Taylor Swift

Male Country Vocal Performance: "Sweet Thing" - Keith Urban

Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: "I Run to You" - Lady Antebellum

Country Song: "White Horse" - Taylor Swift

Country Collaboration with Vocals: "I Told You So" - Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis

Bluegrass Album: The Crow/New Songs For The Five-String Banjo - Steve Martin

Americana Album: Electric Dirt - Levon Helm

Traditional Folk Album: High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project - Loudon Wainwright III

Contemporary Folk Album: Townes - Steve Earle

Jazz & Blues

Jazz Vocal Album: Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman - Kurt Elling

Jazz Instrumental Album: Five Peace Band - Live - Chick Corea & John McLaughlin Five Peace Band

Large Jazz Ensemble Album: Book One - New Orleans Jazz Orchestra

Traditional Blues Album: A Stranger Here - Ramblin' Jack Elliott

Contemporary Blues Album: Already Free - The Derek Trucks Band


Comedy Album: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! - Stephen Colbert

Movie/TV Score Soundtrack: Up

Movie/TV Compilation Soundtrack Album: Slumdog Millionaire

Movie/TV Song: "Jai Ho" - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Musical Show Album: West Side Story

Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: Neil Young Archives Vol. I (1963-1972) - Gary Burden, Jenice Heo & Neil Young

Short-Form Music Video: "Boom Boom Pow" - The Black Eyed Peas

Long-Form Music Video: "The Beatles Love -- All Together Now"

Tags: Grammys, Grammy Awards, awards shows, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon, The Black Eyed Peas, Jason Mraz, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z

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Paul Little is the founder and Managing Editor of When not interviewing his favourite musicians and comedians, he can also be found putting on and promoting music and comedy events with The Purple Room in Winnipeg, or co-producing the live comedy game shows Pants on Fire and The Great Patio Showdown. (@comedygeek)

Original Comments Posted (1)

Ariana says...

Hey, Phoenix won a real one too!

Feb 1, 2010 7:17pm

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