Grammy Awards: Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z Perform, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood Impress, Prince Makes Rare Appearance

Kelly Clarkson, Prince, and Rihanna at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards

Last night’s 55th Annual Grammy Awards on CBS may have lacked the sparkle of past live performances, seemed to have gone on forever (oh it did: three and a half hours), and awarded so many of the wrong people. Still, where else could you see Prince presenting an award, the band fun. getting rained on, Jack White playing with both of his bands, American Idol winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood belting their brains out, and so much of Jennifer Lopez’s right leg?

I would have asked where else could you see Justin Timberlake do his brand new suit and tie routine but from the looks of ads from Target and Budweiser, the answer is “everywhere.”

The Grammys have never been a bastion of hipness or good judgment. Then again, you don’t watch the Grammys for that. You watch to see who wore what outfit and who looked best (I nominate Rihanna), whose performances were silly (ugh, Taylor Swift) and which performances were great.

I didn’t love the new Justin Timberlake single “Suit & Tie” (although it was cool to see Jay-Z join him on stage) or the additional falsetto-heavy tune that he performed ("Pusher Love Girl”)  from his upcoming The 20/20 Experience album, but thought Timberlake sounded soulful while executing each. Kelly Clarkson (who won Best Pop Vocal Album for Stronger) paid tribute to Lifetime Achievement winners Patty Page and Carole King with a grand and powerful; medley of "Tennessee Waltz" and "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman." Bruno Mars and Sting did a smashing mash-up of their hits - "Locked Out of Heaven" and “Walking on the Moon”, respectively – before introducing a tribute to reggae king Bob Marley featuring Rihanna, Ziggy Marley and Damian Marley singing "Could You Be Loved".

The Black Keys performed the cut for which they won Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance, "Lonely Boy,” and did so in big New Orleans’ style with pianist Dr. John in a feathered headdress and brass from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  Elton John sounded a little bit rough and husky voiced at first when paired with Ed Sheeran for the latter’s “The A Team,” but sounded in fine fettle when he joined Mavis Staples and members of Mumford & Sons for a tribute to the late, great Levon Helm. The best performance of the Grammy night came from someone I’m not the biggest fan of: Jack White who split his time quietly with his all-female band, Peacocks, then his all-male act, Buzzards, for "Love Interrupted" and "Freedom at 21," respectively.

Finally, you watch to see who did what while standing in the audience and who presented and how. Johnny Depp forgot that he wasn’t playing a British Tonto while introducing Mumford & Sons. Prince looked dashing draped in black while handing Gotye his Record of the Year for "Somebody That I Used to Know," featuring Kimbra. "I'm a little bit lost for words, to receive an award from the man standing behind us," Gotye said, referring to presenter Prince. Frank Ocean didn't mention his fracas with Chris Brown when he won Best Contemporary R&B Album for Channel Orange against Brown, who sat in the front row with Rihanna and mildly applauded Ocean’s win. It was annoying to have to see Lena Dunham every time her boyfriend’s band fun. won an award (I would have just changed the channel and watched Girls on HBO if I wanted to see her). And though long winded, LL Cool J was a wonderfully energetic emcee. He can come to my house and host a party anytime.

Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z perform "Suit and Tie" at the Grammys
Photos ©CBS / The Grammy Awards
(Collage by Glamorosi)

Posted on Monday, February 11, 2013