Online Exclusive by J’na Jefferson
The 54th Annual Grammy awards, widely recognized as “Music’s Biggest Night,” had a slightly different atmosphere in the air this year. One of the industry’s most unforgettable voices, Whitney Houston, passed away the day before. In the eleventh hour, Grammy executives scrambled to make an impromptu tribute to one of music’s biggest stars.
Grammy host LL Cool J led the audience in a prayer in remembrance of Houston, while Grammy and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson performed a stunning rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” a cover of the Dolly Parton song made famous by Houston in the film The Bodyguard.
As stated by Clive Davis at his annual Grammy pre- party, “[Whitney] would have wanted the music to go on.”
Some of the big winners of the night included The Foo Fighters, who nabbed five awards including “Best Rock Album” for Wasting Light. Rapper Kanye West, who had the most nominations of any artist at the Grammys (seven), managed to bring home four, including “Best Rap Album” for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and “Best Rap Performance” for “Otis.” Electronic music producer Skrillex took home three awards, and Indie Folk group Bon Iver won two, including the coveted “Best New Artist” spot. When Bon Iver front man Justin Vernon accepted the “Best New Artist” gramophone, he apologized (in part) for not being as mainstream as the other nominees in the category (J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, Skrillex, The Band Perry), and he also thanked his parents. Music industry giants such as Katy Perry, Lil Wayne, Bruno Mars, and even Lady Gaga, did not bring home any awards.
The night included performances by country crooner Taylor Swift, Coldplay, and Chris Brown. Brown, whose mixed review performance of his songs “Turn Up The Music” and “Beautiful People” experienced his first time back on the Grammy stage since his 2009 debacle with ex-girlfriend Rihanna, also won his first Grammy (for “Best R&B Album, F.A.M.E.). Other performances included a tribute to the late Etta James by Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt, as well as a medley of classic Beach Boys hits by Maroon 5, Foster the People, and the Beach Boys themselves.
No other performance however, shook the audience and at home viewers quite as much as Nicki Minaj’s. The eccentric rap artist, who strolled onto the red carpet wearing a red nun-like robe, performed a theatrical version of her song “Roman Holiday” off of her upcoming album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The performance, which officially introduced her alter-ego Roman Zolanski to the world, had many religious undertones, complete with a confessional and dancing popes. Minaj’s performance, as well as the Recording Academy, was later blasted by the Catholic League for being “irresponsible” and “vulgar.” Through everything, however, the belle of the ball was Adele. The demure British songbird garnered six nominations and, as expected, she took all of them home. She won the Grammy for Song and Record of the Year, as well as for “Best Short Form Music Video” for her hit, “Rolling in the Deep.” She also won “Best Pop Vocal Performance” for “Someone Like You” and both “Best Pop Vocal Album” and “Album of the Year” for 21. She is now tied with Beyoncé for the record for the most Grammys awarded to a female in one night.
Other than being the most awarded musician at the awards, Adele also performed for the first time in five months since she had surgery on her vocal chords for a hemorrhage. She performed a special version of “Rolling in the Deep”, and some would say she sounded just as good, if not better, after her surgery.
“I’m not surprised that she did well,” said freshman Karissa Maggio. “I was happy to hear that her voice sounded so good after her surgery. That’s what a Grammy performance should sound like.”
Despite the circumstances that led up to the big night, musicians and fans still gathered to celebrate the past year in music. Not only will the legacy and voice of Whitney Houston live on, but fresh new talent is always being discovered. Music as we know it will continue to grow and thrive.