Nicki Minaj performs at the Staples Center during the 54th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles (ROBYN BECK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The first sign that Minaj had something unusual planned came when she arrived at the show with a man in a pope costume, as noted by Celebritology blogger Jen Chaney:

Kelly Osbourne referred to it on E! as the “egg moment of the year.”

Indeed, when Nicki Minaj showed up on the Grammy red carpet in a red hooded gown accompanied by a man dressed as the pope, it was tempting to compare it to Lady Gaga’s egg-incubating-arrival from last year’s Grammys.

Like that episode, it raised so many questions: Why did Minaj feel compelled to bring a man dressed as the leader of the Catholic Church to music’s premier event? ...

Here’s Maura Judkis’s description of Minaj’s performance:

Those who tuned in for Nicki Minaj’s Grammy performance experienced a wave of emotion: First they were confused, then amused and then just plain angry. There was fire and a man dressed like the pope. Minaj levitated. Then, an exorcism. Viewers stared at their TVs, slack-jawed and unsure of what exactly they were watching.

On the Click Track blog, Allison Stewart writes that Minaj’s act was an “indulgent mess” that tried too hard to be provocative.

Last night's performance seemed cobbled together from coffee table art books, Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video and too many viewings of "The Last Exorcism." Gaga and her egg seem sensible by comparison. The fake cockney by way of Kingston accent may have been the final insult.

As predicted by Judkis, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League issued a statement critical of the Recording Academy for allowing Minaj’s performance. The Under God blog has more on Donohue’s objections, including this quote:

“None of this was by accident, and all of it was approved by The Recording Academy, which puts on the Grammys. Whether Minaj is possessed is surely an open question, but what is not in doubt is the irresponsibility of The Recording Academy. Never would they allow an artist to insult Judaism or Islam.”

More on the 2012 Grammy Awards:

Review: A sweep for Adele on solemn night

ASK NOW: Chris Richards Live Q&A, noon ET

The best and worst Grammy performances

List of Grammy winners in selected major categories

The best, worst and weirdest of the red carpet

Essay: Grammy nominee dreams of a win

Grammy Awards play-by-play

Celebrity reactions on Twitter