Best: Rihanna performs ”Stay”
Rihanna relieved the majority of Grammy watchers when neither of her two performances included on-again boyfriend Chris Brown (who was convicted of assaulting her on the eve of the Grammys four years ago). Her first turn was a revelation: no fireworks or crotch-grabbing dance moves, just a piano and the lovely melody from ”Stay.”
Best: Everybody Loves Levon
This year’s tributes were all lively barn burners, especially the nod to the late Band contributor Levon Helm. An all-star lineup of Elton John, T Bone Burnett, Mumford & Sons, Zac Brown, Mavis Staples, and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes tore the house down with a glass-raising run-through of ”The Weight.”
Worst: Taylor Knows All The Words
Sure, it was cute that she mimed the lyrics to Mumford’s ”I Will Wait.” But it became grating when the camera cut to Taylor Swift singing along to nearly every performance.
Best: Grammys Spread the Love
There were no clean sweeps but many more victory parties: The Black Keys took home three gramophones (four if you count frontman Dan Auerbach’s statuette for Producer of the Year), while fun. snagged two key wins (Best New Artist and Song of the Year) and Mumford & Sons scored the all-important Album of the Year.
Best: Jay-Z Goes BOYB (Bring Your Own Brandy
A lot of rules don’t apply to Jay-Z. For instance: The Grammys are a dry show, but Mr. Beyoncé managed to smuggle in a snifter of brandy, which became the evening’s most charming accessory.
Worst: Carrie Underwood’s Projection Dress
Carrie Underwood’s gown — designed by Theia’s Don O’Neill — was quite lovely when she started singing ”Blown Away.” But then the lights dimmed and all manner of horrors were projected onto it, turning the beautiful belter into a human movie screen.
Best: Prince and Gotye’s Mutual-Admiration Society
Gotye couldn’t decide which was more of a thrill: winning the coveted Record of the Year prize for ”Somebody That I Used to Know” or receiving said statuette from Prince. Wearing an all-black ensemble and employing a dapper walking stick, the Purple One muttered, ”I love this song” before announcing the victor. In return, Gotye told the crowd Prince was ”a big reason I was inspired to make music.” Get a room!
Best: Kelly Pays Tribute, Thanks Sexiness
The first American Idol winner accepted her win for Best Pop Vocal Album by toasting the sexiness of both Miguel and her new fiancé. It was Kelly Clarkson’s only win, but everything she touched turned into gold anyway — she confidently navigated both ”Tennessee Waltz” and ”(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” during a tribute to Lifetime Achievement winners Patti Page and Carole King.
Worst: Chris Brown Snubs Frank Ocean
Brown was one of the few stars who didn’t join the standing ovation when Frank Ocean accepted the award for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Sure, the singer beat him head-to-head, but you’d think Ocean’s decision not to press charges following their recent parking-lot incident would earn some applause.
Best: The Black Keys and Dr. John’s Rock Exorcism
The legendary Dr. John — clad in a headdress that made him look like a condor-worshipping voodoo priest — spread his New Orleans mojo over the Black Keys”’Lonely Boy.” Aided by the skronking horns of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, they provided the evening’s most adrenalized performance.
Best: Bob Marley’s Grammy Party
The definitive reggae artist never won a Grammy (though the Academy made nice in 2001 with a Lifetime Achievement nod). This year, he got a fitting tribute from his family (sons Ziggy and Damian Marley) and from more metaphorical brethren (Rihanna, Bruno Mars, and Sting). The transitions from ”Locked Out of Heaven” to ”Walking on the Moon” to ”Could You Be Loved” showed just how deep Marley’s Rasta roots go.
Worst: All Tom Everything
Are stylists aware that Tom Ford isn’t the only menswear designer? His sleek lines and giant bow ties were all over the Grammy men, including Wiz Khalifa and Justin Timberlake. And with JT dressing everyone in his Rat Pack in Ford (and giving the designer a shout-out in one of his songs), it was the very definition of overkill.