1) BEST SELF-EFFACING ACCEPTANCE SPEECH BY A GROUP OR DUO
Coldplay, for Chris Martin’s “limestone” joke. Dude, we’re supposed to be making comments like that about you. If you’re gonna poke fun at your band, then what’s left for wiseass peanut gallerists to say? Well played.
2) BEST WILDLY UNCOMFORTABLE REUNION ANNOUNCMENT, GROUP OR DUO
Blink-182. If Tom Delonge were standing any further away from Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, he’d have been at the Tonys.
3) BEST UNEXPECTEDLY EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE BY TWEENS, GROUP OR DUO
Face it: At the beginning of the night, not too many people over the age of 12 had the Miley Cyrus/Taylor Swift duet circled in their programs as a potential highlight. But we’re so used to premature hypersexualizion even in the Disneyest of our young artists, seeing these two girls, demurely even, sing a simple, lovelorn ballad (Swift’s “Fifteen”) that’s actually about being a teenager felt oddly subversive.
4) BEST PERFORMANCE BY A UTERUS, FEMALE. DUH.
M.I.A. The Mount Rushmore (Million Dollar Quartet? Billion Dollar, adjusted for inflation?) of hip-hop, decked in Rat-Pack-aping tuxes for “Swagga Like Us,” exuded so much testosterone that it drained the color from my TV screen. God bless Maya, then, for neutralizing all that with a few thrusts of her impossibly pregnant belly. I didn’t hear a word those dudes said.
5) BEST BALD-FACED CRED-STAB BY A GROUP OR DUO
On the heels of Nick Jonas’ baffling but endearing magazine interview with Elvis Costello, he and his brothers run circles, literally, around Stevie Wonder during the long-awaited “Burnin’ Up”/ “Superstitious” medley. I know the hints are subtle, but let me see if I can read between the lines: You want to be taken seriously as more than virginal flashes-in-the-pan? Got it.
6) BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE RESISTING THE URGE TO CHOKE ON HER OWN BILE IN FRONT OF MILLIONS OF VIEWERS.
Estelle has made no secret of the fact that she thinks the ascendance of fellow one-named neo-soul songstresses Duffy and Adele might have to do with more than heavenly pipes. So making her not only have to announce their names in the Best New Artist category, seconds after crushing “American Boy” with Kanye, but also present the award to Adele, seemed a bit cruel. Tight smiles all around.
7) BEST EXTREME MAKEOVER
Freaking the fuck out before the USC marching band (of “Tusk” fame — those guys must be 50 by now!), Thom Yorke, fresh from a date with Keith Urban’s hairstylist, finally becomes the shaggy, balls-out rock star none of us really thought he had in him. I’d like to see where this one’s heading.