The 2012 Grammy Awards made us experience a rainbow of emotions during its three-and-a-half-hour telecast. Adele made us giggle with her adorable acceptance speeches, while Katy Perry‘s unflattering hair color just made us angry. We wept over Jennifer Hudson‘s moving tribute to Whitney Houston, and cried even more when Nicki Minaj began flying over the stage like a scene out of The Craft. But oh, there were so many more memorable moments from music’s biggest night. Check out the Top 5 Best and Worst of the bunch from the 54th Annual Grammy Awards below.
5 Best Moments From The 2012 Grammy Awards
5. Taylor Swift‘s spot-on performance of her Grammy-winning song “Mean”. Though Taylor has a tendency to go off-key during live performances, she sounded great during her bluegrass-infused number. (And we especially love the tweaked lyric, “Someday I’ll be singing this at the Grammys”.) Swift made her trademark surprised face at the end, shocked at the standing ovation she received, though we weren’t nearly as surprised the crowd gave her such a positive reaction. (As a sidenote, anyone else think it looked like she was performing in front of the barricade set from Les Miserables? Perhaps she was inspired by her brief time being attached to the project?) Watch it here.
4. Justin Vernon‘s acceptance speech for Best New Artist was sweet, humble, and honest — after making critical comments towards the Grammys, it would be even more uncomfortable if the Bon Iver mastermind didn’t somehow mention that he was wary of such awards shows. Watch his awkward (yet totally endearing) acceptance speech here.
3. Alicia Keys (rocking a Janelle Monae/Bruno Mars-style pompadour) and Bonnie Raitt delivered a subtle and effective tribute to Etta James, covering the late singer’s “A Sunday Kind Of Love”. It was simple, subtle and sincere, proving you don’t need costumes, lasers or any other distractions to put on a phenomenal performance. Watch it here.
2. Adele (who was on stage so much during the show she should have had her mail forwarded there) kept it short and light for her first few acceptance speeches, chewing gum and acting super relaxed as she thanked her “Rolling In The Deep” producer Paul Epworth (who won Producer of the Year), radio stations for playing her songs, and her doctors for healing her voice. But the Brit singer’s speech upon winning Album Of The Year was the most moving, as she finally broke down into tears. (She still manages to make herself and us laugh when she realizes, “Oh, I got snot!”) Can this woman get any more likeable?! Watch it here.
1. Whitney Houston, whose death shocked the world only the day before, was memorialized throughout the night — host LL Cool J opened his monologue with a prayer, while many performers and presenters made reference to Whitney as the show went on. But with less than a day of preparation, Jennifer Hudson gave one of the finest performances of her career with this emotional tribute to the fallen star.
5 Worst Moments From The 2012 Grammy Awards
5. We’re disappointed that there wasn’t any Amy Winehouse tribute. We realize a whole bunch of people died in the last year and there are only so many hours of airtime, but the woman did win a whole bunch of Grammys. (Including one last night!)
4. We know they were either paid tribute to or referenced elsewhere during the show, but why was there no mention of Etta James and Soul Train creator Don Cornelius during the In Memorium segment?
3. Katy Perry made her first live TV performance since her divorce from Russell Brand, and it wasn’t much of a return. The blue-raspberry-haired pop star sang her new single “Part Of Me” (snappy, but far inferior to her Grammy-nominated song “Firework”), combining elements of S&M and sci-fi for an underwhelming production. Hey, at least she looked incredible in a skintight body suit. (Wait, is she now cribbing her style from Jessie J? Oh, how the tables have turned.)
2. That special electro-dance performance featuring mostly non-dance artists. We seriously didn’t need to see Chris Brown perform twice on one awards show when we didn’t even get to see Robyn perform once.
1. Nicki Minaj’s “Roman Holiday” performance… goodness gracious, where do we even begin? It was like watching a low-budget spin-off of The Exorcist turned into an off-off Broadway musical that’s cancelled after opening night. The song itself was so irritating it made “Stupid Hoe” seem as melodic as John Lennon’s “Imagine”. As for the production, the religious imagery was weird for the sake of being weird, and adding in “I Feel Pretty” and “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” was jarring and just plain random. Plus, picking a track that focuses on her alter-ego Roman was a poor choice, since we doubt most of America has any clue who Roman is or what Nicki was even talking about in that terrible British accent. Would it have killed her to perform “Super Bass” one more time? Or a song from her new album that’s more accessible for this type of platform? And forget all the faux-shocking theatrics – you’re a talented rapper, Nicki. Get up there and rap. All this ridiculous spectacle is unnecessary.