In keeping with western tradition -- and the sorry state North America seems to be in -- the evening had a distinct air of escapism; the King and Queen of Camp themselves, Elton John and Lady Gaga, had the opening number, for Pete's sakes. It was an evening that offered those watching a chance to escape from the humdrum of their ordinary lives and witness the end of a storyline that had been going on ever since the MTV Video Music Awards earlier that year.
On January 31st, plans were made, guns were drawn, and music's highest earners prepared themselves for a long battle -- a battle that, like any good western, was effectively over before it already began.
Here's how it went down.
- Lady Gaga's opening number was interesting and kind of fun, but it was ruined by the cheesy cries of "She's a monster and she's turning all of you into monsters!" and was painful to watch at some points, almost becoming as laughable as her performance on Oprah when she tried to smash a car window and couldn't. While Elton John was a welcome addition halfway through, the choice of "Your Song" seemed awfully self-congratulatory, and it was weird, not necessarily glamorous.
- Stephen Colbert was essentially given the opening monologue of the evening, which could be compensation for not hosting the Oscars. It was very funny, his daughter had great comic timing, and he managed to get in a few priceless jabs at Adam Lambert and Jay-Z without bursting the fairytale bubble of the whole thing.
- Even though she's been doing it for a few tours now, Pink's aerial act while performing "Glitter in the Air" was stunning and classy -- and, according to MTV.com visitors,their favorite performance of the night.
- Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli singing the Simon and Garfunkel classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in support of Haitian relief. Very passionate, but the pairing was a bit odd -- she seemed beside herself and he had virtually no facial expression. I'm not sure if I like this as much as I did upon immediate viewing.
- Leonard Cohen and Neil Young finally won some sort of Grammy Award. Need I say more?
- Let's face it: Beyonce's performance on Sunday was, vocal theatrics aside, pretty uneven. That she decided to perform something from the bloated, melodramatic I Am... part of her ridiculous so-called alter-ego "concept" album instead of a fun, upbeat song from Sasha Fierce and throw Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" into the mix was bizarre enough. But did she really need to pull a Jay-Z and start grabbing at a, ahem, certain part of the human anatomy that she doesn't even have?
- It's no wonder Taylor Swift won Album of the Year, because she clearly has some of the best computers in Hollywood to be able to turn that voice into something that could stand against someone like Stevie Nicks. Unfortunately, while she can carry a tune, she didn't do her best on Sunday night, and the fact that she used elements from the far-superior Butch Walker cover of "You Belong to Me" -- a cover that doesn't even suit her voice -- didn't help either.
- Justin "I Entirely Benefit From Studio Trickery" Bieber and Ke$ha "Why Am I Here?" Sebert easily won the Grammy for Least Enthusiastic Reading Off Of Teleprompter, Duo or Group Presenter Division. The 15-year-old Bieber also referred to Bon Jovi as Beyonce, covering himself by claiming "Beyonce's always on my mind." Thank you, Justin dear. Excuse me while I cringe.
- Some sort of lowbrow parody of opera, Jamie Foxx, T-Pain, Slash, some other guy nobody's heard of, and Robert Downey Jr. This was so incredibly awful that even Jay-Z was speechless.
- I was speechless myself when Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Underwood, Usher and the postmortem voice of Michael Jackson joined together for a performance of "Earth Song" that, aside from the well-thanks-for-not-telling-us-about-the-3D-earlier special effects, seemed rather ironic considering that a group of people whose combined carbon footprint is probably larger than Mali was up there crying "What about us?" At least they had good intentions, but the irony was too evident not to notice.
I'd like to end this post on a positive note, so I'll direct you to Taylor Swift's lovely acceptance speech after winning her first-ever Grammy for Best Country Album. Good night.