Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse

Richard Young/Startraks Photo; Fred Perry

Whitney Houston was remembered. Amy Winehouse was honored. And upsets were possibly brewing.

Five take-aways from the Grammys before the Grammys, the nontelevised preshow: 

1. Jennifer Hudson Is Going to Have a Tough Act to Follow: And we don't just mean Houston, to whom she'll pay tribute to in song during the prime-time show. We mean it'll be tough to top the late Winehouse's parents.

Mitch and Janis Winehouse, who accepted the Grammy on behalf of their daughter for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, an honor shared with Tony Bennett, were touching and very, very sweet.

"We shouldn't be here," Mitch Winehouse said. "But these are the cards we're dealt."

Offered Janis Winehouse, a true ringer for her daughter: "Amy will go on longer than we will, and that is our blessing." 

If that weren't enough, Mitch Winehouse might have had the line of the night, summing up some of the music world's recent losses: "Long live Whitney Houston. Long live Amy Winehouse. Long live Etta James. There's a beautiful girl group up there in Heaven."

Noted R&B producer Jimmy Jam, a presenter, might've had the best perspective on the night: "Every time someone passes away, you gather your family together…This is our family tonight, and you know we're going to do it the best anybody can do it."

2. The Nicki Minaj Upset Could Be Nigh: Upstart electronica artist Skrillex, up for Best New Artist, won three preshow Grammys. He's so new to the game—last year, he was living in a downtown Los Angeles warehouse space, and not a spiffy one, to hear him talk about it—he attended the nontelevised event, and personally picked up all of his trophies: "This is really crazy, man."

3. Betty White Is Only One Career Grammy Behind the Rolling Stones: This, after the most golden of girls schooled Tina Fey and more to earn her first career Grammy, winning for Best Spoken World Album. Like a true Grammy vet (unlike, you know, Mr. Skrillex), White didn't show at the preshow. Big time!

4. Dave Grohl Is Cool: You probably already knew that, but he outdid himself by going where only Skrillex would go: to the preshow. The Foo Fighters won big, scoring three trophies, including one for Best Rock Song ("Walk"). Grohl said he remembered country star Vince Gill once urging artists to attend the preshow at the Los Angeles Convention Center because "they're just as important as the other show over there" at the adjacent Staples Center—"and I completely agree."

By the by, if you believe in upsets, you could read the Foo Fighters' early success tonight as a sign the band's going to upend Adele for Best Album. 

5. Taylor Swift Is Just as Cool as Dave Grohl:  The country queen was about the only other A-list act to park herself at the Convention Center. For her trouble, she won two Grammys for "Mean." "This is incredible," she gushed, sounding just as surprised as the year she dominated the show. "Wow!"

Two bonus notes:

Harry Potter Just Can't Win: Considering the franchise can't hardly ever win at grownup awards show, then it shouldn't surprise that it lost again, but still…At the Grammys or the Oscars, the result was the same. The  nominated score for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 went down to defeat to an, ahem, important film, The King's Speech.

No Complaints: If there were protests over the Recording Academy's decision to cut categories, there weren't any winners who devoted their press conferences to the subject. The winners, per usual, were a pretty happy lot. 

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