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Grammys 2012: Kanye's MIA and Chris Brown is a turn for the worse

Chris Brown

If the first 25 minutes of the 54th Grammy Awards were relatively restrained, that all went by the wayside when Chris Brown performed two songs. Brown has had success in the last year, but he's still in the midst of serving five years probation for assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna. Considering the incident happened hours before the Grammy Awards three years ago, this all seemed too much too soon.  

Additionally, in light of what happened yesterday, it felt frivolous — nay, offensive — to keep Brown on the bill for a nearly four-minute segment. Sure, he's s fine dancer, but "Turn Up the Music" and "Beautiful People" were feather-light compared to Bruce Springsteen's "We Take Care of Our Own" and the Alicia Keys/Bonnie Raitt duet, "A Sunday Kind of Love."

FULL COVERAGE: Grammy Awards

Running around the stage, one outfitted with light-boxes, Brown and his dancers seemed ridiculous in their high turtlenecks that look like gas masks. For anyone who thought this would be a more elegant Grammys, Brown made it clear they won't be. Worse, he'll be back later in the show, but who wouldn't have rather have heard an extended tribute to Whitney Houston, or even Amy Winehouse, rather than this?

Far more fascinating, however, was the fact that Kanye West was not in the building. His co-winner Jay-Z is a new father and has a more than valid excuse to stay home, but West has made it clear that the Grammys are a big deal to him. He had the most nominations this year, with seven, although his nods were all confined to the rap categories. The gripping drama of "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" deservedly won for rap album, but it should have been nominated for album of the year. 

Grammys 2012: Red carpet photos

Yet West was nowhere to be found when he won for rap performance for "Otis" with Jay-Z. A shame, as even when West is talking rather than performing, he's an artist you can't take your eyes off of. Of course, with his album shunned out of the top categories, and without West giving a performance, who can blame the guy for staying home? 

Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson then performed their borderline rock ballad "Don't You Wanna Stay." Singing in front of a stage outfitted with giant clock innards, the duo looked like they were on the set of "Hugo." It was tempting to watch the background to see if it gave any clue as to how long this melodramatic rocker would go on for. 

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Full coverage

And the winner is...

PHOTOS: Grammy winners

'Bon Iver' wins for alternative album

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

'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: Singer Chris Brown performs onstage at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

 
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