Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Unlike the Academy Awards, and all those other shows about speeches and winning the office pool, the Grammy telecast can't possibly focus on the bajillion categories. So it demands you watch the performances.
And tonight offered nearly every famous person who ever hummed a tune—Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Eminem, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Bob Dylan, Lady Antebellum, Muse, Mick Jagger, Mumford & Sons and more.
Here's who delivered—and didn't:
Worst Opening: What better way to celebrate the future of music than by focusing on the past? The Christina Aguilera–led five-pack of female performers paid tribute to the great, recuperating Aretha Franklin, but the opening moments seemed to be more about Aguilera paying tribute to herself and her ability to melt into her own melisma. Still, even if the visual wasn't compelling—five talented singers standing there taking turns listening to each other doesn't stop you from turning the channel—the singers, especially the amazing Jennifer Hudson, sounded good. So there!
Best Opening (That Wasn't): Relative newcomers Bruno Mars, B.o.B. and Jenelle Monae had it all in their set, including strings, stage dives and a monocle! Great songs, dynamic performances and a sense of musical history that respected the past by reinventing it. We loved it, and it would have been a great way to start the show.
Most Revolutionary: Considering the news out of Egypt, Muse's incendiary performance of "Uprising" was both timely and pretty awesome. (Though sure, the song still reminds us of "Call Me.")
Best Lady Gaga's Born This Way Performance—or Worst? The egg opened and Lady Gaga emerged to sing, shimmy and shake her new song. Was it totally fine, or did it fail to live up to the kind of blood-and-Goths extravaganza we've come to expect from her?
Which Bieber Is Best? The singer gave a threefer performance: Strumming "Baby" on guitar, battling ninjastic dancers with Jaden Smith on "Never Say Never" and a OMG-testic performance of "Oh My God." Is it even fair to ask?
Biggest Fan: Nicole Kidman was caught on camera totally singing along to Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream."
Best Collaboration (including Beards, Banjos and Bob!): Dylan joined two of our favorite high-energy jamming bands, Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers, and the result was a strumming extraganza on "Maggie's Farm" that felt fresh, fun and inspired. Plus, we enjoyed whatever the hell Dylan was doing with the ascot and the poses. More, please!
Biggest Headscratcher: The Powers That Be won't let Cee Lo Green sing the actual words "F-ck You," but they'll let him wear that outfit? It's a crazy world, people. (Seriously, we love the song, the puppets and Gwyneth Paltrow, and think Cee Lo might have a future on Sesame Street.)
Most Underwhelmed Reaction: Judging from her grim expression, we don't think Jennifer Lopez liked the Dylan performance nearly as much as we did.
Biggest Shocker: The only person most people figured wouldn't win Best New Artist, did. Esperanza Spalding beat out Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence + the Machine, Mumford & Sons to win best new artist. How did that happen? It's crazy!
Best Name-Dropper: Train's singer Pat Monahan managed to thank two major cultural figures in his brief speech, Howard Stern and Justin Bieber.
Most Confusing: The seamless segue between the In Memoriam tribute and the sudden appearance Mick Jagger made us think for a moment that he'd passed. Thankfully, he hasn't, and he gave a terrific salute to the late Solomon Burke to boot.
Best Presenters: Can you beat Nicki Minaj and Will.i.am for the right mix of talent and asymmetrical hair?
Hardest Choice: Rihanna and Eminem—or Rihanna and Drake? Discuss.
Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady: Look, we don't have a beef with the "Need You Now" trio—well, except that the song makes us so sad—but we can't believe the tune gobbled up so many awards, shutting out people like Rihanna, Cee Lo Green and Jay-Z in the process.
Barbra Streisand: Which was more exciting, her performance of "Evergreen" or the long, uncomfortable pause before she announced Album of the Year?
Worst Biker Act: Arcade Fire gave a strobe-tastic blast of music that will be remembered less for the quality of the song, and more for the eye-searing mix of hard-to-watch lighting and guys riding BMX bikes.
Best Comeback: Arcade Fire won the night's final Grammy and then played the night out with a much less visually painful performance. Good for them.
Last Question: What was your favorite moment of the night?