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Grammy Awards: What you didn't see in the telecast

If you were lucky enough to be in the audience at Staples Center for the 53rd Grammy Awards on Sunday night, you would have been treated to a PG-13 experience. And maybe you would've wished that things had gotten a bit more rock-and-roll. Like Lady Gaga getting in a fistfight with Jennifer Lopez. Or Justin Bieber being caught on camera huffing glue. Anything to remind you that at its core, music is red-blooded and rowdy.

But instead the most off-book the show got was in the profanity department. Say, when a certain scatological expletive was said on separate occasions by two winners. It was the very first thing Lady Gaga said when she won for pop vocal album. And it was nearly the first thing that Win Butler said when Arcade Fire shocked the crowd by winning album of the year. Only his expletive had a "holy" in front of it. (And of course, Eminem got muted a lot during his powerful performance of "Love the Way You Lie," but some of what he said sound more like "friggin'" to me.)

Another dramatic moment came during Justin Bieber's high tween octane performance of "Never Say Never." As the tiny heartthrob pranced on a riser way above the stage, dancers accompanied him to do flips off the riser. But one of them did not land on his feet -- he landed flat on his side. And hard. The audience gasped and there was a tense moment when he lay there stunned. When he got up, he was limping and holding his back. Then, miraculously, he began dancing and flipping again. Proving that Bieber power is truly unstoppable.

Nail-biting was again apparent when Arcade Fire took to the stage. As they played, the lights flashed apoplectically -- those with heart conditions should have been warned in advance -- and trick bicyclists rode circles around the stage. One of the cyclists half slipped a couple of times, and the second time he came dangerously close to sliding into the audience in the pit beside the stage. 

However, the award for the most creative use of the huge space inside Staples Center goes to Muse. During the band's spirited performance of "The Resistance," dancers dressed like anarchists with red cloth over their mouths repeatedly ran onstage to smash the speakers below the riser they played on. Each time a speaker was smashed, it erupted in sparks, and fake security chased the offender off the stage. When the song was over and the telecast cut to commercial break, the faux anarchists continued to run through the audience with security chasing them out the exits in the back.

But perhaps the best part about being in the audience during the show wasn't what you saw, but what you felt. The power of the collective energy in the room. The ebb and flow of potent emotion that swept through the crowd as it swooned and sighed over the wedding footage that played on the sheet behind Katy Perry as she sang "Not Like the Movies"; the ripple of laughter that came when Cee Lo appeared in full plumage; the warmth and reverence paid to Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand and Mick Jagger; the collective cringe at Seth Rogan's Miley Cyrus joke; and the giddy excitement that crashed over the auditorium like a massive wave when Eminem first appeared onstage.

That's the good stuff. And it's what the crowd came for.


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--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Muse performs at the Grammy Awards. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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It was a night of suprises: Arcade Fire winning Album of the Year!...finally NARAS gets something right for a change...As predicted Em would not win this top honor because it will have to take someone like Will Smith (cringe) to put a non-profanity-laced, uplifting rap/hip-hop recording that is family friendly to the stodgy members' ears. And a win by Lady Ant. would have been too embarrassing for NARAS to bear. And as predicted here, NARAS stuck to its old tradition of honoring bland, mediocre songs for Song of the Year and Record of the Year...another surprise! Best New Artist award to Esperanza Spaulding. NARAS went for artistry over commercialism...bravo! The hi-lights: Arcade Fire, Muse, Mick Jagger (showing the youngster you're never too old to rock n roll), Janelle Monae (reminding me why I bought her CD and just love it), Cee-Lo (amusing and fun) and Mumford & Sons and Bob Dylan (Bob you're a great songwriter but it's time to stop're voice is gone man gone). It was also a night of channeling the living and the dead...Bruno Mars channeling Jackie Wilson and James Brown...Cee-Lo channeling Elton John and Parliament...Usher always channeling Michael Jackson (note to Usher there's only one and only one Michael Jackson)...and Lady GaGa channeling Madonna (will there be a copyright lawsuit coming soon from Madonna or will GaGa give her songwriting credits for Born This Way/Express Yourself mashup? Seriously even the horse-tail hair extensions was a Madonna send original...Not! and the low-lights: Justin Bieber channeling Vanilla Ice (note to anyone do not let little bubble-gum teen idols try to urbanize their image..i.e. attempt to be street-wise rappers...the BeaverBieber looked like Julie Andrews trying a hand at rap..just awful!...Jaden Smith boring...Lady Ant. boring (as expected)...Miranda Lambert, nice but also boring...Barbra not in good vocal form..not perfect. and miscellaneous moments..Em as expected angry white rapper and least Rihanna gives the song a boost....Drake just another rapper ho-hum...Katy pop fluff as usual...note to Christina A. we know you have great vocal chops but I guess you're becoming the Patti LaBelle of this era...going for the over-kill like Patti...please girl tone it down a notch...Martina McBride seem out of place among the others in the Aretha Franklin tribute. Overall I give this year's Grammy Show a B-. It wasn't great but it wasn't a stinker either...note to NARAS, please no more Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith...they're just not cool...really!


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