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Grammys 2012: Adele's magnificent return to the stage

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Soul singer Adele had a triumphant return with her hit "Rolling In the Deep," already this year's song of the year and the favorite for record of the year. She toyed with the crowd at first, starting the song a cappella and taking an extended pause before the song's thumping rhythm and driving acoustic guitars would come in. Yet with the music world spending months debating whether she would return to form after vocal cord surgery, she deserved to have a little fun with the audience. 

It wasn't long before she shut up any doubters. Adele's a stunning singer, largely for how she manages to reach for the rafters and still sound as if she's holding back. She was composed and steady tonight, and if she didn't dig low down for her wise-beyond-her-years rasp, she made it clear that her vocal prowess isn't going anywhere.

Her "21" wasn't my favorite album of 2011, and it's not even my favorite Adele album, but she's the only artist who got up on stage tonight and made and won her case for all the Grammy accolades. As the song builds to its fiery, gospel-inflected ending, and Adele holds a gradually rising note, it's a spine-tingling moment. 

PHOTOS: Grammy winners

The Grammy Awards couldn't keep up the momentum, however. As producers did with the Beach Boys, they felt the need to clutter up a performance from a musical legend with a bunch of sub-par (at best) youngsters. This time it was Glen Campbell who deserved more stage time.

The Band Perry aren't going to offend anyone, but the pop group with some slight country accents isn't going to wow anyone, either. Blake Shelton, who performed Campbell's "Southern Nights," is at least a showman.

After the delay, Campbell, who is suffering from Alzheimer's and on the final tour of his career, appeared to sing "Rhinestone Cowboy." It was a magnificent moment, with Campbell leading a crowd sing-along and ad-libbing with those on stage, and like the stronger Grammy performances — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Adele, the Beach Boys — it needed little adornment. 

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And the winner is...

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Live coverage of the Grammy pre-show

Foo Fighters, Coldplay keep things predictable

Jennifer Hudson to sing Whitney Huston tribute

Show starts with Bruce Springsteen and a prayer

Foo Fighters' 'Wasting Light' wins for rock album

Kanye's MIA and Chris Brown is a turn for the worse

'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' wins for rap album

Critic's Notebook: The junking of commercial rock music

Commentary: Where's the love for the supreme Diana Ross?

— Todd Martens 

Photo: Adele performs "Rolling in the Deep" during the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. Credit: Robert Gautheir / Los Angeles Times

 

 
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