Beyonce, Swift score big at the Grammys
Monday, February 1, 2010
LOS ANGELES -- A night in the charmed life of Taylor Swift: Give an incredibly wretched vocal performance, go on to win the biggest Grammy of 2010, anyway.
The country-pop pixie enjoyed the biggest night of her career at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, her deserving album "Fearless" taking the Recording Academy's top honor. At 20, she became the youngest artist to win album of year.
Earlier, however, she delivered the evening's most miserable performances. (Which this year is saying something.) She was joined by Stevie Nicks for a pitchy duet of "Today Was a Fairytale" and "You Belong With Me," as well as the Fleetwood Mac classic "Rhiannon." The singers took turns dragging each other off key and Swift was soon suffering a beat-down on Twitter.
Those sour notes (and plenty of others) took the wind out of what promised to be one of the youngest, most "in-touch" Grammy awards show in recent memory, thanks in large part to newbie pop stars Swift and Lady Gaga dominating the nominations.
It was also a career night for Beyoncé. The R&B superstar led the nominations with 10, and took home six, including best female pop vocal performance. The six wins was a best for her and the most ever won by a woman artist. Her mega-hit "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" was declared song of the year early in the program, but the singer was not there to accept: She was busy backstage preparing for an elaborate one-two-punch performance of "If I Were a Boy" and a cover of Alanis Morisette's "You Outta Know."
(In addition to a whole lotta trophies, this song might now belong to Beyoncé, too.)
Dressed like Tinkerbell-turned-pro-wrestler, Lady Gaga kicked off the evening performing in an emerald-sequined onesie and war paint as she strutted through her hit single "Poker Face." Then she bellied up to a piano for a duet with the only person on Earth who knows more about pop hooks and sartorial weirdness than she does: Sir Elton John.
Sadly, Gaga never returned to the stage. And the show's early promise quickly fizzled with acts failing to eclipse her outlandishness. A performance from Pink somehow discovered the unfortunate intersection between Cirque du Soleil and a strip club, while Jamie Foxx, T-Pain and Slash delivered an incredibly messy version of "Blame It." A stately performance from co-ed country crooners Lady Antebellum could have used more lasers. Eminem, Lil Wayne and Drake gave a very profane, highly-bleeped performance that kept the CBS censors busy and almost rendered the music unintelligible.
In accepting the award for best country album for "Fearless," Swift told the audience, "This is my first time walking up those stairs to accept a Grammy on national television."
Georgia upstarts Zac Brown Band kept it country with a dark-horse victory for best new artist. Record of the year was an upset, with Kings of Leon's nouveau power ballad "Use Somebody" topping tunes from Beyoncé, the Black Eyed Peas, Swift and Gaga. "We're a little drunk," singer Caleb Followill said, accepting the award. "But we're happy-drunk."
In the requisite singing-with-a-recording-of-a-dead-person portion of the program, a motley yet able-voiced crew of Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Underwood and Usher teamed up to perform alongside a video of Michael Jackson's "Earth Song." It's the dramatic eco-ballad that fans first experienced in last year's concert film "This Is It," only this time the video was shown in 3-D.
Was that it? This was the first Grammys awards show since Jackson's death, and it seemed like a strange and insufficient tribute. Lionel Richie then presented a lifetime achievement award to Jackson's children.