As Bon Iver head grump Justin Vernon will tell you, Grammy night is all about unlikely on-stage collaborations. Sometimes, the show's random juxtaposition of artists, its seemingly haphazard melding of genres, generations and songs, yields greatness (remember Radiohead and the USC Marching Band? Or the great Kanye West/Daft Punk explosion of '08?). Sometimes, not as much.
We realize that most of the collaborations we'd really like to see (Adele and Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj) probably won't happen. But if the list of scheduled collaborators is any guide, 2012 will bring the crazy, the tasteless, the awesome and the unintentionally ridiculous in equal measure. (Note: More time is needed to fully process the Beach Boys/Maroon 5/Foster the People collaborative performance that was just announced.)
The top five Grammy night performances we're dreading the least:
1. Deadmau5/David Guetta/Chris Brown/Lil Wayne/Foo Fighters
This performance, which will take place in a tent outside the venue, makes a certain kind of sense: The electro artists will appear because the Grammys can no longer credibly ignore them; Foo Fighters will appear because to the Grammy bigwigs, they're the Sheryl Crow of the aughts — a much-awarded, inoffensive, genre-spanning outfit that can be plugged into pretty much any situation and make the best of it. Either that, or someone at NARAS really hates Dave Grohl. And maybe they figure it's better to have Chris Brown outside the Staples Center, and Rihanna inside?
2. Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood
We forget: She's one of the best singers in the business. And Bennett is always at his twinkliest when performing with the young ladies.
3. Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt: Etta James tribute
Remember last year, when all those divas paid awkward homage to Aretha Franklin and everyone got scared that Aretha was dead but she was really just sick? And Christina Aguilera almost fell off the stage? This year promises to be a lot less hammy/unintentionally terrifying, but the pairing of '00s Grammy queen Keys and her '80s counterpart Raitt (who is much more of a blueswoman than her late career pop albums would indicate) can't miss. Was this the performance Vernon declined to participate in? The Internet says maybe.
4. Rihanna with Coldplay
Their "Mylo Xyloto" duet "Princess of China" was a snooze, but both artists usually bring it live. This one could go either way.
5. Whoever performs at the inevitable Don Cornelius tribute
How about Bruno Mars with the Roots, artists who could have actually performed on "Soul Train" back in the day? Or J. Cole? Or Blue Ivy's mom? What about Skrillex (please not Skrillex)?