Grammys: Best and Worst Moments

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Lady Gaga performing at the Grammys / Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
WRITTEN BY
Steve Kandell

Sunday night's Grammy Awards ceremony featured a feisty pop-punk band getting their Andrew Lloyd Webber on, a schmaltzy tribute to a late icon in trendy 3D that no one at home could view, and a desperate plea from the music industry to please give them some money. Then there was all the lame stuff.

Weirdest Opening Number That Seemed a Lot Less Weird As the Night Devolved
The 52nd annual Grammys got off to an appropriately daffy start with Lady Gaga's three-ring "Poker Face" paean to the perils of fame and egotism, performed to an arena full of megastars and flunkies, followed by a sweet "Your Song" duet with Elton John that took its art direction cues from The Road. This would prove to be one of the more relatively sober moments of the evening, and, surprisingly, the last we'd really see of Lady Gaga (who, like her or not, can really sing). Somewhere there's a half-dozen bizarre steampunk-fairy outfits that will have to be worn for Sunday chores.

Best Neutering of a Supposed Teen Rebellion Anthem
Because everyone knows nothing says sticking it to the man like a glitzy production number with the cast of your upcoming Broadway musical, Green Day were able to temporarily deflect the criticism that "21 Guns" cribs "All the Young Dudes" by making it sound like something from Rent instead. To their credit, I guess, Green Day seemed vaguely embarrassed. Well, Billie Joe and Dirnt, anyway -- after all these years, Tre Cool still looks shocked and grateful he's not managing an Arby's.

Best Drinking Game We Wish We'd Played Do a shot every time one of the dudes from (Song of the Year) winners Kings of Leon says how much they've been drinking. We might have wound up as drunk as one of the dudes from Kings of Leon. We get it -- you're over 21 now.

Big Winner of the Night in Absentia: Alanis Morissette
Yeah, sure, there was the ever-perky Taylor, but really, the night belonged to Alanis Morissette, whose Dave Coulier-bashing "You Oughta Know" was woven seamlessly into Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy" extravaganza for some reason. Our long national nightmare of having to picture the chick from You Can't Do That on Television going down on the dude from Full House in a movie theater is finally over. To quote Justin Bieber, "Sorry, Jay."

Ricketiest, But Still Most Entertainingest Duet
Before she was shocked -- shocked! -- to win Album of the Year, Taylor Swift worked her charming virginal magic alongside Stevie Nicks on the Fleetwood Mac classic "Rhiannon" (not "Rihanna") and a country-fried take on her own "You Belong With Me." That she was painfully out of tune doing so took a backseat to the Tweetsplosion of Taylor-Swift-blowing-coke-up-Stevie-Nicks'-ass jokes that inevitably ensued. Bonus factoid: That emo-bang'd banjo player was, in fact, Butch Walker.

The Al Jolson Memorial Award for Minstrelsy
Okay, you're Quentin Tarantino, we've been watching this for nearly 20 years now. We can accept the fact that you're dressed like a first-grader's idea of what "cool" people look like -- polka dot shirt with the collar popped and Elvis sunglasses -- but why were you introducing Lil Wayne, Drake, and Eminem with a faux-urban patois that would make even your buddy Samuel L. Jackson cringe? We get it, you think black people are the bees' knees, but talk in your own goddamn normal voice. That's irritating enough as is. Consider whatever goodwill you'd built up from Inglorious Basterds being less shitty than we predicted squandered.

Most Disquieting Harbinger of What James Cameron Hath Wrought

INT. GRAMMY PRODUCTION OFFICES – DAY
A harried PRODUCER sits around a conference table while three UNDERLINGS sit and nervously take notes.

PRODUCER
So, even though there's been a billion other tributes, if we don't do a big Michael Jackson number, they'll eat us alive. How can we make ours different?

UNDERLING #1
We can do a song from later in his career, one that no one really cares about. It'll seem like brand new!

PRODUCER
Can it be sanctimonious? Remember, there was that thing in Haiti that just happened.

UNDERLING #1
Says here he's got something called "Earth Song"...

PRODUCER
Perfect. Can we have it performed by five people you'd never expect to see on a stage together?

UNDERLING #2
How about Carrie Underwood, Smokey Robinson, Usher, Celine Dion, and Jennifer Hudson?

PRODUCER
That'll do. But it's still not quite arbitrary enough...

UNDERLING #3
[Leafing through Variety] Did you guys see that Avatar just became the highest grossing movie of all time? They can do the song entirely in Na'vi!

PRODUCER
Brilliant! But I have an even better idea-3D!

The room erupts into applause.

UNDERLING #1
Cool, but how are the millions of viewers at home going to watch it if they don't have glasses?

PRODUCER
You're fired.

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