What was left for the Grammy Awards?
Sadly, the world's collective jaw dropped Saturday upon hearing the news that Whitney Houston's voice had been silenced forever, so it seemed unfathomable that—barring an Album of the Year loss for Adele (hmph, as if!)—anything could shock last night.
Oh, but there's always something. Or, in this case, five things:
1. Grammy Kiss-Kisses and Makes Up With Chris Brown: Last year he was nominated, but this year, Breezy picked up his first Grammy—Best R&B Album for FA.M.E., no less—and was welcomed back like the prodigal son. We're not saying that Brown, who's been spending a lot of time coincidentally showing up at the same clubs as Rihanna over the last couple months, should be banned from winning awards (he already won a handful of BET Awards last year), or that he wasn't musically deserving of this one. It's just that, in 2009, Brown was arrested for assaulting Rihanna the night before the Grammys. So the rapt standing-O from the crowd Sunday was...interesting, that's all.
2. Ryan Seacrest, Literal Foo Fighter: Seacrest had to be introduced twice tonight because Dave Grohl, onstage accepting the Foo Fighters' Best Rock Performance Grammy for "Walk," just wouldn't shut up! Not only did the go-away music start, but the lights dimmed, and yet Grohl's screed against technology continued. His point was lovely, that learning how to play instruments and devoting one's self to the craft is more authentic than cranking up the computer enhancements, but...dude. Do you want people to download your stuff on their evil computers or not? Seacrest had already been announced once when Grohl howled, "Long live rock 'n' roll!" Maybe this wasn't so much a jaw-dropper as it was a disbelieving wince, followed by an embarrassed crinkling of the eyes.
3. Grammy Dropout: Where the heck was Kanye West?! Three-time nominee Jay-Z missing out, we understand. He and Beyoncé just had a baby. But Kanye led the entire field with seven nominations—and he won four, including Best Rap Performance during the live show! Doesn't he like to speak when it's his turn? Maybe it was his form of protesting My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's snub in the Album of the Year category (though it gave him his fourth Grammy for Best Rap Album). Anyway, it's a shame he wasn't there, because everything is more interesting when Kanye is in the house.
4. Katy Perry Powers Up: Well, hel-lo. The pop princess started off with "E.T." (another moment Kanye could have shared and chose to miss) before segueing into something new—and awesomely fitting for the occasion. Perry, known for explosive stage antics more than powerhouse pipes (live, at least), ripped into "Part of Me," which hits iTunes today as the first official single from the delicious-sounding Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection. "This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me," goes the indepedence anthem. "Throw your sticks and stones, throw your bombs and your blows, but you're not gonna break my soul." Was that the recently single star trying to send a message? If so, we heard it loud and clear!
5. Good Show, Bon Iver: Once again, the Recording Academy ignored the numbers and took a stab at proving to the cool kids that it knows what's up in choosing Bon Iver for Best New Artist—kind of an out-of-touch move in and of itself considering the ever-morphing indie-folk outfit fronted by Justin Vernon released a debut album in 2007. Unlike 2010-11's resident blossoming flower, Nicki Minaj, who was all over the place these past 15 months and is considered one of the freshest, most exciting hip-hop artists to come along since Drake—who lost out on Best New Artist last year to Esperanza Spalding.
Oh, those Academy hipsters. What are we going to do with them?
Bon Iver put it best: "Thank you to all the voters, of course. Sweet. Sweet hookup."
(Originally published on Feb. 13, 2012 at 5:30 a.m. PT)