Even if you're of the mindset that the awards no longer matter, it's hard not see the Grammys as a free televised concert coutesy of the biggest names in music. (Thanks, guys!) And while it's all the spirit of togetherness and musicianship, it's hard not to pit performers against each other. Who blew us away and who sank like rock in the Ocean?
Most Confusing Horror/Literary Reference: Taylor Swift
Her performance of "We Are Never Getting Back Together" opened with a Jigsaw lookalike reciting lines from "The Raven," before adding Alice in Wonderland characters to Taylor's sparkly ringleader, all so she could tie Glasses Guy to a psychadelic torture device for even thinking that they could like, ever, ever, ever get back together. It's still got a little too much of that T-Swizzle hubris though. Color us confused and amused.
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Most Baby-Making Performance: Miguel and Wiz Khalifa
Were you distracted by the sheer amount of stripes onstage during this performance? If your answer is "yes" then your TV's volume clearly wasn't turned up high enough. Miguel's vocals were everything we dreamed they would be live, and man, were they sexy. Yes, Wiz Khalifa was there too. But Miguel, you guys. The Grammys cruelly made him cap off his performance by announcing the Solo Country Performance nominees, and it was jarring, but that performance was still perfection.
Most Lena-Dunham-Pleasing Performance: fun.
Alright, this was cute, albeit a little lackluster. Their performance of "Carry On," what with its little floating light orbs and lack of Lena Dunham cutaways (she's dating the guitarist) was simply nice. After learning every last word to "Some Nights" and "We Are Young," two endlessly rousing pop songs, it's just hard to get really into it when they slow it down. Plus, when the mid-performance rainstorm came down on them, I was too distracted by wondering what happened to the instruments to really give the tune a chance. Lena Dunham sure liked it though.
Most Awkwardly Heartbreaking Performance: Frank Ocean
Ocean's performance was saved for last (we refuse to count the LL Cool J performance that was basically what happens when the Karaoke DJ closes down the bar for the night), and by all rights it should have been the best of the night. Ocean is widely regarded as one of the most important new voices in the music industry for both his talent and the courage it took for him to be openly gay in a community that's largely without that brand of honesty. So when he took the stage with "Forrest Gump," a song that openly celebrates his lifestyle, we wanted it to be perfect. But Ocean's vocals were off, causing him to go flat for most of the song. It was heartbreaking, and the radio silence from everyone, including the Staples Center audience, was a clear sign that a flub from Ocean was something none of us was able to really wrap our heads around.
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Best Justin Timberlake Comeback: Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z
The self-promotion was getting a little nutty, but by the time Ellen and Beyonce were girling out over JT onstage together, all annoyances were forgiven. JT is back! And he's in sepia tone! (Which is a move he may have stolen from Bruno Mars' last Grammy performance, but he pulls it off way better so we're going to go ahead and let that go.) And with a standing ovation from the Grammys crowd! JT didn't get nearly as dancey as he's generally wont to do, but watching him perform "Suit and Tie" with Jay-Z was an epic moment in musical history. And for the "Suit and Tie" haters, Justin tacked on "Pusher Love Girl" — a wonderful song until that point where you realize he's singing about Jessica Biel and not you.
Most Familiar, But Not in Annoying Way, Performance: Mumford and Sons
This looked a heck of a lot like the band's 2011 Grammy performance alongside Bob Dylan — between the straight line formation and the flashing lights behind them, it was all a little too familiar. But then, Marcus Mumford started breaking it down and melting hearts and suddenly, the staging mattered not. We will wait for you all damn day, boys. (And if we're not there, you can be sure super fan Taylor Swift will be.) Video coming soon
NEXT: Worst Psych! Performance Ever...
Worst Psych! Performance Ever: Bruno Mars' Bob Marley Tribute
Once the performance added Sting, Rihanna, and Ziggy and Damien Marley to get the crowd going for "Could You Be Loved," this sweet little tribute to Mr. Marley picked up and became something of a momentary beach party. But when it (and by "it," I mean a tribute to Bob Marley and not a moment of Bruno Mars' self-promo time) started, the first song sounded a hell of a lot like "Locked Out of Heaven," which is a Bruno Mars song and not a Marley tune. Oh, that's because it was? What other tribute started with someone's own music as opposed to the person being honored? Oh, none of them? So, Bruno Mars is the only ego-maniac dropping his own song into a tribute. Okay. Glad we got that straight.
RELATED: 10 Looks That Violated CBS' Grammy Rules
Most Unintentionally Disturbing Performance: Rihanna
In what should have been a great, intimate performance of "Stay," Rihanna made us all very uncomfortable. We knew she was at the show with Chris Brown, and we know how autobiographical she can be in her art. It was hard not to feel like she was singing this song to the man none of us can believe she's gone back to. Sorry, Gavin Purcell. Your assist was fine, but we're a little distracted here.
Performance Most Likely to Serve as a Really Affective Lullaby: It's a Tie! Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley/Ed Sheeran and Elton John
Miranda's a great singer, and she looked great in her sparkly dress, but there was something so sleepy about this performance. No level of Bruce Springsteen impression from Mr. Bentley could change that. And while aesthetics aren't really the crux of a good performance, the strange tree, Lambert's endlessly sparkly dress, and Bentley's devil-may-care chic went together about as well as Chris Brown and anything we like. The best part was watching Blake Shelton's proud gaze at his pretty wife, but that could just be because it was over.
Sir Elton, you are a legend. Ed (can I call you "Eddie"?), you're an adorable British singer-songwriter. This should have been more engaging. But this rendition of Sheeran's "The A-Team" just had me wondering, "Why isn't Beyonce performing tonight?" Hell, even Elton looked bored.
Performance That Was Most Likely to Be Way Better if Adam Levine Wasn't Involved: Alicia Keys
RELATED: Taylor Swift Tries Something New: Embarrassing or Cool?
Alicia Keys, wearing a sexy dress and banging the hell out of some drums before singing "This girl is on fire" like an Amazonian battle call, would have been a highlight of the evening if it wasn't followed by the Maroon 5 frontman trying to keep up with her. The last thing Ms. Keys needs is a sidekick.
Most Straight Up Incredible Performance: It's a Tie! The Black Keys with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band/Jack White
The Black Keys are already incredible live, and that's without any elaborate set pieces or flashy costumes. But when they added the New Orleans flair of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to "Lonely Boy" (even if they Kelly-and-Michelle-ed the horn section's volume), it made the ubiqitous song brand new and thus, even more incredible.
Jack White, you magnificent bastard. As someone who's not normally a follower of our pastey friend, I have to admit, his performance of "Love Interruption" was a thing of beauty. Plus, he did it with the help of a band of lady musicians who look like they were plucked from a Victorian Uptopia. You've got me, Jack White.
NEXT: Best Redemption from a Past Idol Performance....
Best Redemption from a Past Performance on American Idol: Kelly Clarkson
Saying Kelly Clarkson ever wasn't perfect during a performance doesn't happen often, but when she sang "Natural Woman" on Idol, she was, well, less than perfect. But when Clarkson sang "Tennesse Waltz" for Patti Page and then "Natural Woman" as a tribute to Carole King. It was beautiful, and incredibly moving, and coming from someone as genuine as Kelly, it's a performance that's hard not to love.
Best Unadorned, Yet Perfect Performance: The Lumineers
All they did was stand together and sing "Ho Hey" with a few twinkly lights in the background. And it was perfect.
Worst Dance Moves: Carrie Underwood
For a girl who can sing the hell out of any song, especially "Blown Away," her performance blew us away for all the wrong reasons. Her vocals were great as always but the strange use of her Barbie prom dress as a movie screen for butterflies and clip art roses ruined it all. And if the light show wasn't distracting enough, the fact that there was clearly some life-size Barbie rack hidden under that dress preventing her from moving anywhere was disconcerting. If she would have just gone up there in a pretty dress and did her thing, she'd probably be remembered as one of the better performers of the night.
Best Ignored Tribute Because the Performers Aren't Mainstream Enough: Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Kenny Garrett
This year, the jazz world lost Dave Brubeck, and the loss was crushing. Watching these guys deliver a sweet, simple rendition of Brubeck's "Take Five" was the perfect way to say "Thank you" to the legend, but apparently, this performance doesn't get an introduction from a pretty musical celeb. (It was so awesome, no one has yet put a video on the Internet.)
Most Surprisingly Awesome (And Not At All Annoying) Tribute From Five or More Performers: The Levon Helm Tribute
Elton John, Zac Brown, Mumford and Sons, Elton John, T Bone Burnett, Mavis Staples, and Brittany Howard from the Alabama Shakes on one stage? It sounds like a combination too overloaded to work, but when all these voices came together to deliver "The Weight," the song made famous by The Band, it was perfect harmony. Of course, Howard had to go and show everyone up (even Staples was impressed) with her too-perfect-words closing verse. Can we see an Alabama Shakes cover of the song soon, please?
Best Terrible American Idol Audition: Juanes
Dude, have you ever heard "Your Song" before? It doesn't sound like this. If this was American Idol, Nicki Minaj would be giving you a nickname, telling her she loves you boo, and sending you home to pursue other dreams.
Best Performance That Was Shorter Than a Teaser Trailer for the Actual Movie Trailer: Hunter Hayes
Dude, they give you a piano with your lyrics written all over it, and all you get to do is sing a few bars and then throw it Carrie Underwood and her technicolor dream dress?
Performance Most Likely to Make the Performer a Laughing Stock For the Foreseeable Future: LL Cool J
After Mumford and Sons were awarded their Album of the Year trophy, we were all ready to say goodnight, but LL Cool J insisted on continuing the show, like the guy who can't accept the bar is closing at 4 AM. He was still singing at the top of his lungs (or in this case, rapping) as the commercials started rolling and folks started filing out of the Staples Center. Sorry LL, but you're going to get a lot of s**t for this one.
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Roy Horn publicly describes attack for the first time
Roy Horn, one-half of the illusionist duo Siegfried & Roy, described for the first time his memories of being mauled by a tiger in an interview with Maria Shriver that aired Wednesday on the NBC special, Siegfried & Roy: The Miracle. Asked by Shriver what he was thinking at the time, Horn answered: "Dear God, let this be just a bad nightmare." Horn also told Shriver he remembers having a near-death experience on the operating table. "I saw a bank of white light, and then I saw all my beloved animals ... For a moment I stepped out of my body," said Horn, who now uses a motorized wheelchair. The magician was attacked by a 380-pound tiger named Montecore during a live performance at The Mirage hotel-casino in Las Vegas. The 7-year-old tiger bit into Horn's neck and dragged him off stage--until a show employee broke the animal's grip using a fire extinguisher.
Walters exits 20/20
Barbara Walters is giving up her role as co-host of the ABC newsmagazine show 20/20 after 25 years--and 740 interviews. Walters, 72, became a fixture on 20/20 in 1979 when she joined forces with then-host Hugh Downs. She has since interviewed the famous and infamous, including Richard Nixon, Michael Jackson, Erik and Lyle Menendez, Margaret Thatcher, Moammar Gadhafi, Monica Lewinsky, Bing Crosby, Robin Givens and Mike Tyson, Elton John and Ronald Reagan. But the veteran anchor says she is not retiring. "I'll be doing specials that I can pick and choose. I might even do an interview for 20/20 from time to time," Walters tells The Associated Press. "But in terms of anchoring 20/20--I'm done." Elizabeth Vargas will step in to replace her at the anchor desk next to John Stossel. On Friday, Walters will host a two-hour retrospective of many of her past interviews with 20/20. Then on Sept. 24, ABC will air Walters' last interview, a conversation with Mary Kay Letourneau, the former sixth-grade schoolteacher who went to prison for having sex with a student.
Johnny Ramone dies at 55
Ramones' guitarist Johnny Ramone died today following a five-year battle with prostate cancer, Reuters reports. He was 55. According to the group's Web site, Ramone died in his sleep at 3:03 p.m. at his Los Angeles home, surrounded by his wife, Linda Cummings, relatives and friends. Ramone, whose was born John Cummings, performed with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame punk band from its initial concert at New York City's Performance Studio March 30, 1974 to its 2,263rd and final show at the Lollapalooza festival at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater Aug. 6, 1996. Ramone is survived by his wife and his mother. His body will be cremated during a private ceremony.
Zeta-Jones' stalker to stand trial
Superior Court Judge Patricia M. Schnegg yesterday ordered a woman accused of stalking actress Catherine Zeta-Jones to stand trial, the AP reports. Dawnette Knight, 33, was arrested June 3 at her Beverly Hills, Calif., home and pleaded not guilty to one account of stalking and 24 counts of making criminal threats. The judge ordered Knight held on $1 million bail and to return to court Sept. 27 for arraignment. The charges involve more than 24 letters sent to Zeta-Jones's husband, actor Michael Douglas. In one letter, Knight said: "We are going to slice her up like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs." In another letter, she allegedly apologized, claiming she had been in love with Douglas. Dwight's case had been halted July 30 pending a psychiatric evaluation after she suffered from an overdose of barbiturates, but a judge found her mentally competent to stand trial.
Madonna goes to Israel for spiritual guidance
Following her concert tour Re-Invention, Madonna (or should we say Esther, her given Hebrew name) is heading to Israel for a little spiritual cleansing, Reuters reports. The pop diva, whose itinerary was kept under wraps for security reasons, arrived at a luxury hotel in Tel Aviv late Wednesday to join about 2,000 fellow Kabbalists from the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Center to celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year. The Catholic-bred singer's interest in the religion has raised some controversy among some ultra-Orthodox Jews who are afraid the growing popularity of the movement among non-Jews is nothing more than a trend that demeans their religious beliefs. But Madonna has said she takes the belief in Jewish mysticism very seriously and is irritated by accusations. Madonna's schedule was to also include a visit to graves of Jewish sages in northern Israel as well as shrines such as the flashpoint Rachel's Tomb on the edge of Bethlehem, traditional burial place of the biblical matriarch Rachel, Reuters reports.
Bobby Brown heads to Bravo
Cable network Bravo has ordered 10 one-hour episodes of Being Bobby Brown, a reality series about the troubled singer. The show, set to debut in the second quarter of next year, will chronicle the R&B singer's efforts to clean up his life after his numerous run-ins with the law. Brown's wife Whitney Houston will appear, as well as his children from their marriage and previous relationships. "Being Bobby Brown will allow the public to see Brown outside the context of a pop icon and bad boy, rather, they'll witness an artist striving to clean up his life for his future and the future of his family," Bravo president Lauren Zalaznick said.
John Lennon musical in the works
Lennon, a musical about the former Beatle John Lennon's life, is set to open on Broadway next summer, in time for the 25th anniversary of his murder at the hands of a crazed fan, Variety reports. The project will include such post-Beatle songs as "Imagine," "Instant Karma," "Give Peace a Chance," "(Just Like) Starting Over" and "Whatever Gets You Through the Night." The play was written and will be directed by TV veteran Don Scardino. No cast is set as yet.
Kennedy Center honors John, Beatty
Elton John and Warren Beatty will be among six entertainers to receive the annual Kennedy Center honors this year, the center told Reuters on Wednesday. The other recipients will be the husband-and-wife team of actors and producers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, soprano Joan Sutherland, and composer and conductor John Williams. The 2004 honorees will be feted at a gala performance in the Kennedy Center's Opera House on Dec. 5.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Elton John blasted British Prime Minister Tony Blair in an interview with Sky News broadcast Monday, saying the leader should be "thoroughly ashamed" of his Labor government's record on AIDS funding. "For God's sake, we live in the 21st century--the trains don't work, the health service doesn't work, people are dying from AIDS, what are you doing?" the singer blasted. "Get your act together; it's a disgrace." John spoke to SKY News on the sidelines of the Vienna Life Ball, one of Europe's biggest AIDS charity galas.
Angelina Jolie, who is goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, has donated $100,000 to help train refugees from Myanmar for new jobs, according to Reuters. Jolie is currently in Thailand, shooting her latest film, Beyond Borders.
Billionaire MGM magnate Kirk Kerkorian says he is "amazed and disappointed" at a $1 billion privacy lawsuit filed against him by millionaire movie producer Steve Bing. Bing filed the lawsuit after Kerkorian hired a private detective to steal dental floss from his trash can to obtain a DNA match and prove Bing fathered his ex-wife's child, Reuters reports. Bing may also be the father of model/actress Liz Hurley's child born earlier this year, Hurley has claimed.
'N Sync singer Lance Bass has undergone a surgical procedure in a Los Angeles hospital to correct an irregular heartbeat, People reports. Bass' affliction could have disqualified him from taking a planned Russian rocket flight to the International Space Station this fall, when he could be the third space tourist to blast off.
Penelope Cruz has signed on to star in the French-language remake of the 1952 adventure comedy Fanfan la Tulipe, Variety reports. Cruz will play a gypsy girl who dupes Fanfan, a handsome young peasant, into joining the French army by convincing him he will marry one of the king's daughters if he does.
Comedian Jamie Foxx is in talks to star in the crime thriller Shade, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Foxx would be joining a cast that already includes Thandie Newton, Stuart Townsend, Gabriel Byrne and Sylvester Stallone.
Heartthrob Josh Hartnett has inked to star in the Lakeshore Entertainment/MGM thriller Wicker Park, to be directed by Paul McGuigan. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is an intense Hitchcockian psychological drama about a man's obsessive search for a former love. Wicker Park is slated to go into production in October.
In the Biz
Filmmaker Martin Scorsese showed a 20-minute clip of his upcoming movie Gangs of New York at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday, Reuters reports. The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz, is scheduled to open wide in December.
Also debuting at Cannes will be Adam Sandler and Emily Watson's romantic comedy Punch-Drunk Love. The film, by Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson, is about a guy who buys a lot of pudding to take advantage of a frequent flier promotion, The Associated Press reports.
Believe it or not, the 1980s TV series The Greatest American Hero will be hitting the big screen. Disney has hired Paul Hernandez to adapt the series for a feature film, Variety reports. Although the story will deviate slightly from the original series, it will be based on a schoolteacher who becomes a superhero after extraterrestrials give him a suit with special powers.
Fans will be able to get Eminem's long-awaited album The Eminem Show sooner rather than later. According to MTV.com, the album's release date has been pushed up from June 4 to May 28 because it has already been leaked for download on the Internet, and bootleg copies have been sold for as little as $5 on the street. Eminem's record company, Aftermath/Interscope, announced that the first 2 million copies of the album sold in stores would feature a DVD of exclusive of Eminem performances and interview footage.
Rob Cohen's The Fast and the Furious took home five awards, including best work with a vehicle and best stunt by a stuntman, at the World Stunt Awards held at the Santa Monica Air Center's Barker Hangar in California on May 19. Also taking top honors were Rush Hour 2 and A Knight's Tale, while Jackie Chan, director Michael Bay and stunt legend Buddy Van Horn were presented with Taurus Honorary Awards.
Organizers of three all-star benefit concerts this weekend have so far raised an estimated at $17 million, The Associated Press reports. The New York concert, which featured Paul McCartney, Billy Joel and Elton John, raised approximately $14 million while the United We Stand concert in Washington raised about $3 million. Ticket sales figures for the Nashville charity concert were not available Monday. A concert in Seattle featuring R.E.M. also raised $1 million for a United Nations food program.
Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf were married Monday in a private ceremony by a Las Vegas judge, Reuters reports. The two are expecting their first child in December.
An independent inquiry found significant failings in the care of paranoid schizophrenic Michael Abram, who stabbed former Beatle George Harrison at his home in December 1999. The probe found that Abram went untreated despite numerous contacts with mental health and drug services before he was discharged from a psychiatric hospital in November 1999. The report also criticized community health services for not notifying Abram's family after his discharge, Reuters reports.
O.J. Simpson testified at his road rage trial in Miami that Jeffrey Pattinson "puffed up like a bullfrog and went off," People.com reports. Pattinson, who lives near Simpson, claims Simpson ran a stop sign and flew into a rage when he honked his horn. Simpson was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend in 1995, but was later held responsible for their deaths in a civil trial.
James Brown's former security chief pleaded guilty to forgery, property damage and stealing $75,000 from the singer, AP reports. Richard Glenn, who was arrested in May 2000 after a fire destroyed a business office for James Brown Enterprises, was sentenced to 15 years on Friday.
Country singer Johnny Cash was released from Baptist Hospital in Nashville Monday after recovering from a two-week bout with bronchitis, Reuters reports. Cash was admitted to the hospital Oct. 7. He suffers from autonomic neuropathy, which makes him susceptible to pneumonia.
Fox on Monday announced plans to re-release Moulin Rouge on Nov. 21, with special engagements in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. According to Variety, the theatrical re-release will not affect its home video release on Dec. 18.
First week sales for Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace have set a record with an estimated 2.2 million DVD units purchased by consumers since its release on Oct. 16, Variety reports. The sales equate to more than $45 million in consumer spending on the DVD.
Jerry Springer will be replacing talk show host Dick Cavett in the production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show reopening on Broadway Oct. 30. According to Variety, Springer played the narrator 20 years ago in a Cincinnati Playhouse production of Rocky Horror.
While the Spice Girls have not decided whether to split the band, two members have confirmed they have dumped their manager Nancy Phillips. Melanie Brown and Victoria Beckham blame Phillips for their lack of success as solo artists, the BBC reports. Meanwhile, former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell will be launching a sex education Web site this week aimed at children under the age of 16.