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Grammy Awards: A screamer of a tribute to Aretha Franklin

February 13, 2011 |  5:29 pm

An ailing Aretha Franklin was honored to open the 53rd Grammy Awards, beginning the night with more of an understated tribute than a whang-bang Lady Gaga performance. Or at least that was the intention. With five vocalists trading lines and songs as if they were in some sort of militaristic singing line, there was a whole lotta yelling and a bit of over-singing.

Christina Aguilera, tackling "Ain't No Way," was no doubt out to prove that she could redeem herself after her National Anthem mix-up at the Super Bowl. While this writer believes Aguilera has received more hate than necessary for her fumble -- she's sung the tune her whole life without a problem and it was clearly a mistake -- she was here to pound "Ain't No Way" straight into the listner's skull, stretching the word "I" to nearly four syllables. If you're a fan of Aguilera's hollering, this was golden. 

Otherwise, Martina McBride's "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" thankfully brought things back to earth, and Florence Welch brought a tad rock 'n' roll grit to her take on "Think." Yet it was Jennifer Hudson who no doubt had the standout performance, and not simply because she was handling one of Aretha's most well-known songs in "Respect," and it went nicely into Yolanda Adams' "Spirit in the Dark"

-- Todd Martens


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