Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Feb 14th 2011 1:11AM by Kenneth Partridge
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As her black leather and metal butt armor made clear, Gaga dominates pop culture, but if she'd emerged from 'The Fame Monster' a little less confident, she might have given 'Born This Way' away, and the world might have gotten to hear Houston sing the line "Don't be a drag/Just be a queen." It's an idea all the more stupefying than Gaga's decision to arrive Sunday night in a giant egg.
Gaga's Whitney shout-out and Madonna-esque live performance and costume were just two thank-yous in a ceremony chock-full of them. The lovefest that was the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards began with "some of our most talented musical princesses," as LL Cool J described them, paying tribute to "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin, who's still recovering from an undisclosed illness. Franklin's admirers included vocal gymnast Christina Aguilera, newly svelte Jennifer Hudson and indie songstress Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine. When their medley was finished, Franklin herself appeared via prerecorded video and thanked her well-wishers, joining the mutual-admiration society.
The gratitude didn't stop there. Justin Bieber took us all back to those halcyon days of 2007, reminiscing about the time he met Usher in a parking lot and earned the audition that would change his life, if not the course of human history. To commemorate the momentous event, the two dueted on 'Oh My Gosh' and copped some dance moves from Michael Jackson, an artist they needed not thank by name.
Eminem big-upped his mentor, Dr. Dre, with his performance of 'I Need a Doctor,' and later, accepting the prize for Best Rap Album, Em represented for the Motor City, shouting, "What up, Detroit? Stand up!"
Playing 'The Song Otherwise Known as Forget You,' Cee Lo Green evoked Elton John's classic '70s 'Muppet Show' appearance, jamming with Gwyneth Paltrow and a bunch of unfamiliar-looking puppets. (What, no Animal?) Later, Mick Jagger threw on a turquoise blazer and out-Muppeted that entire crew, bopping and sashaying in honor of soul great Solomon Burke, a Stones favorite who died in late 2010.
Before presenting Lady Antebellum -- one of the night's big winners -- the award for Song of the Year, John Mayer, Norah Jones and Keith Urban professed their love for Dolly Parton, giving a taste of the country legend's 'Jolene.' In the somewhat puzzling "tribute to acoustic music" portion of the evening, Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers joined a man who's almost certainly one of their idols, Bob Dylan, on a rollicking ride across 'Maggie's Farm." Dylan was a good sport, sidestepping like an old-timey song-and-dance man and even offering up a few bars on the harmonica.
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One band that didn't seem fixated on thanking its heroes was Arcade Fire. After performing 'Month of May' amid blinding strobe lights and high-flying BMX bicyclists, the Montreal indie outfit took home Album of the Year honors -- much to the surprise, it seemed, of envelope opener Barbra Streisand.
Arcade Fire kept their speech short, and frontman Win Butler ended by looking forward, not back: "We're going to go play another song, because we like music." With that, Butler and Co. rushed back to their gear and charged through 'Ready to Start,' an appropriate selection, given that they've now graduated to the hallowed ranks of Train, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and, of course, Gaga.
Next year, if they show up in eggs, the eight-strong Arcade Fire might want to consider getting their own Styrofoam carton. Gaga probably knows someone who can help them with that.