Grammys 2012: Nicki Minaj and five other weird moments we saw
The Grammy Awards: What would the ceremony be without its weird moments, its awkward collaborations or puzzling choices? Although Adele’s clean sweep lent the night a classy air -- even in spite of her admission that snot was running down her face; hey, anything sounds suave in a British accent -- Sunday night was rife with the kind of fodder that pushes Twitter close to overload. Nicki Minaj performing an exorcism on herself? That was just for starters.
Here are six of the most notable of the evening’s slip-ups, gaffes and other “I don’t get it” moments:
1) The Recording Academy did a tremendous job responding to the sudden death of former pop titan Whitney Houston, arranging a gorgeously simple tribute from Jennifer Hudson. But nobody could’ve predicted the awkwardness of the ceremony’s opening line. Gearing up to perform “We Take Care of Our Own,” Bruce Springsteen asked the crowd, “Anyone alive out there?” Funny how standard warm-up banter can suddenly seem cringe-worthy.
2) The Foo Fighters, the traditionalist guitar rockers led by Dave Grohl, must’ve been on sale when the Grammys were budgeting Sunday’s performance schedule. The band was omnipresent at the show, from playing in the parking lot outside –- they must’ve torn up too much of the furniture inside already -– to inexplicably joining the late-hour dance-music collaboration with Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, DeadMau5 and David Guetta.
As far as the latter performance, is Grohl really the best representative of the genre-blurring intentions of dance music when only an hour previous, he groused about music made with computers?
3) What’s an award show without Kanye West? He won for best rap performance for his “Otis” collaboration with Jay-Z and also took the best rap album in the pre-telecast for “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” but the Chicago spitfire was nowhere to be seen.
We think we understand why. The innovative Kanye thrives on excitement and unpredictability. And with the recently recovered, wholly genial Adele set to take all her awards, it was the kind of odds lockdown that makes betting, or chest-beating, a moot point.
4) Chris Brown: Did we need to see him perform twice? Are we ready to embrace him so full-heartedly? Three years after assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna, Brown was embraced by the academy, which invited him to perform his own music on top of some sort of Cubist contraption seemingly designed by Atari. Then later on, he leads the aforementioned dance party that showed rich people what the Coachella dance tent has been like for the last several years.
We have to say that Rihanna would’ve been the better choice to lead that number; her music has tracked bigger with dance crowds from the start. “We Found Love,” her collab with electronica wiz Calvin Harris, is the perfect example of pop, dance and R&B merging into one powerhouse strain. Or what about Lady Gaga –- and why was she relegated to quietly wearing a veil all night? Are performances with eggs or meat-dresses not cool anymore? (Wow, we just got hungry typing that.)
5) Praise for Rihanna aside, we can’t totally let her off the hook for one of the night’s most plodding medleys. “We Found Love” dribbled into a Coldplay acoustic puddle –- a serious downtick in momentum. If only they’d flipped the order and saved Rihanna’s slick jam for last. Regardless of who started, the set behind both performers was a torrent of images seemingly ripped from someone’s crashing iPhone, an onslaught of multicolor slashes and glowing auras. If this was homage to Steve Jobs, he’s not happy right now.
6) Nicki Minaj’s performance –- Catholic nightmare overload or inspired frightfest? Wait, notice how those two things aren’t that different? It might take us years to process all the ideas at work in Minaj’s performance, and while we applaud her for presenting them all with gusto, it seemed a case of too much, too late. So there was a video in there? And a cross she was hanging from? Or did she levitate? That’s a start, Nicki, but if you want to do “The Exorcist,” your head has to spin around, not ours.
Photo: Nicki Minaj scaring the bejesus out of the crowd at the Grammy Awards. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times