Last night's Grammys could easily have been another dud. With the sudden death of R&B/pop icon Whitney Houston less than 24 hours prior to the broadcast, there was bound to be a somber pallor cast over the entire production. One can only imagine the producers' mad scramble to put something meaningful together on short notice without distracting from the overall celebratory feel. From my perspective, they did a great job.
JHud's Whitney Houston Tribute
Jennifer Hudson's rendition of Houston's signature "I Will Always Love You" was perfection. Hudson delivered a haunting, reverent, goosebump-inducing performance that conveyed the mix of emotions felt both in the Grammy hall and around the world. Jennifer Hudson hit the right note while paying tribute to the late, great Whitney. Hudson's performance was everything Christina Aguilera's shameful, self-aggrandizing, masturbatory Etta James tribute was not: classy and sublime. And there were zero suspicious fluid emissions.
While Whitney Houston's death at age 48 was tragic, it was perhaps one a long time in the making. The show's producers successfully addressed the situation without letting it overshadow the show.
The big news of the night was British singer Adele's triumphant return to the stage after undergoing throat surgery only weeks before, which forced her to cancel her tour, disappointing both Adele and her legion of fans.
The blonde beauty's performance of her massive hit "Rolling In The Deep" was undoubtedly powerful, but there was still a hint of reservation in the verses, which reminded the audience that this is a world class performer who's still in the midst of recovery. However, when she hit the chorus, she let loose and found her flow. Punctuated with a Grammy sweep of six awards (including the top three: Best Record, Best Song, Best Album) it was clearly Adele's night, and, frankly, she deserved it. Grammy voters sent out a major statement to the music community: focus on your craft, not gimmicks.
Sidenote: Lady Gaga went home empty-handed and seemed less than thrilled about it. Oh snap!
Chris Brown Can't Sing and Dance
Chris Brown was the elephant in last night's room. Just a scant three years ago, both he and then-girlfriend Rihanna missed the Grammys after a massive bloody blowout the night before the show. The aftermath has been chronicled ad nauseum. Images of a battered and bruised Rihanna were inescapable and Brown, the abuser, has had a black cloud hanging over him since. Despite passing his court-ordered community service and anger management classes with flying colors, Brown has yet to dodge his reputation as an abusive boyfriend. And boy oh boy, has he tried to re-emerge as a new, wiser, less-volatile person. Sadly, the results have been mixed.
Brown's performance on the other hand was awe-inspiring, that is if the goal was to show what a great dancer he is, and he is FABULOUS. However, the Grammy Awards is about musical performances, and Chris lip-synced the hell out of the two songs he performed. First up: "Turn Up the Music." Brown sang the first verse, and it was a bit pitchy, dawg, but the rest of the performance was a showcase of his amazing body-contorting gesticulations. He's a great performer, but is he a great singer?
Chris had another opportunity later with a multi-artist medley featuring Brown, David Guetta and Lil' Wayne, Foo Fighters and Deadmau5. It was an adrenaline-fueled highlight of the evening, but again, Brown's lip-syncing throughout was a bit off-putting. Brown did end up taking a Grammy home for Best R&B Album, so clearly someone's forgiven him.