Elton John and Lady Gaga
Dear Grammys, enough with the kooky pairings! Yes, it worked really well when you united Eminem and Elton John all those years ago. It was a true example of music bringing people together. But this year's many matches felt more like mis-mash-ups. Taylor Swift's duets with Stevie Nicks were embarrassing for both of them, and Lady Gaga's pairing with Elton John — is he now the go-to duet partner? — didn't quite jell. It was telling that the night's best songs came from Drake, Eminem, and Lil Wayne — three artists who brought out the best in each other — and Pink, who performed solo. Welcome to Top Moments, Grammy Mis-Mash-Ups Edition.
10. Best Idea: Lady Gaga opens the show with a typical (ha-ha) performance of her hit "Poker Face" in which a team of dancers adore her almost worshipfully, until she's thrown into a fire. Next we find her sitting across a piano from Elton John. Their mash-up of her "Speechless" and his "Your Song" ("How wonderful life is/With Gaga is in the world!") isn't a flawless showcase for either performer, and sets the tone for a night of unnecessarily complicated combos.
9. Best Patter: "Stay away from Katy Perry," Stephen Colbert warns his daughter from the stage. Otherwise, the Colbert Report wise guy tries to prove his coolness to his daughter by greeting all the boldfaced names in the crowd. He later informs the crowd that Susan Boyle, a "48-year-old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes," saved the music industry this year. When he wins for Best Comedy Album, he asks his daughter, "Am I cool now?" Yes.
8. Worst Idea: Nothing says punk rock like turning your album into a Broadway musical. Except performing with the performers in that musical, as Green Day unimpressively did with the cast of American Idiot.
Check out all the Grammy Awards red carpet hits and misses
7. Best Stage Presence: Beyonce wears an exoskeleton-like gown accompanied by a SWAT team of backup dancers to sing "If I Were a Boy," a rough-edged version that segues into a cover of Alanis Morissette's man-hating anthem "You Oughta Know." Her defense-themed show is a brilliant offense.
6. Most Tired Trend: Robots are so now! Or so think the Black-Eyed Peas in their performance of hits "Imma Be" and "I Gotta Feeling," which feature robots in metal-man drag. If only their tin-man routine had a heart.
5. Worst Tribute: Taylor Swift stumbles through "Today Was a Fairy Tale" before inviting Stevie Nicks to the stage to butcher/duet on Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon." Just when the 35-plus crowd is ready to storm the stage and stop Swift from destroying their memories, Nicks saves the day by adding a dose of musicality to an ill-advised, slowed-down rendition of Swift's "You Belong with Me." Let the grown-up lead, kiddo.
4. Most Multi-Dimensional Tribute: Celine Dion, Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood and Usher team up to sing Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" in a 3-D tribute to the late singer. It's a strong vocal performance, which you don't really need special glasses to appreciate. After the song, Jackson's eldest child, a well-spoken Prince Michael, 12, thanks the crowd for their support following his famous dad's death.
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3. Best Surprise: When Robert Downey Jr. introduces an operatic performance of the Royal Gramophonic Society, most of us thought: Bathroom break. But that crafty Jamie Foxx pulls a fast one on us uncultured rubes, as a mezzo soprano starts singing his hit "Blame It" (al-al-al-al-al-alcohol — yeah, that one). The stage explodes in an orgiastic frenzy, as Foxx is joined by Doug E. Fresh, T-Pain and Slash, who turns in a blistering solo ripped from Guns N' Roses' "November Rain."
2. Most Interesting Performance: Where to begin? Pink starts off innocently enough, as she slinks around the stage singing "Glitter in the Air" in a robe that appears to have been stolen from Princess Leia's wardrobe trailer. The robe inevitably comes off to reveal a nearly nude bodysuit, and within seconds Pink is lifted from the stage. Hanging from silks, she's suddenly soaked with water that spills from her body, probably messing up some hairdos in the crowd below. It's worth it.
1. Worst Editing: Drake holds his own singing his hit "Forever" with established rappers Lil Wayne and Eminem. We'd say more about this energetic performance, but we only heard about half percent of it; CBS' censors bleeped the rest. The song isn't that dirty. Someone could have been more judicious with the edits.