Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Check out the numbers that hit the right notes at music's biggest night

Shaun Harrison
1 of 15 Lester Cohen/


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.
2 of 15 Michael Caulfield/


"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.
3 of 15 Jeff Kravitz/


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.
4 of 15 Jeff Kravitz/


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.
5 of 15 Michael Caulfield/


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.
6 of 15 Kevin Mazur/


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.
7 of 15 Jeff Kravitz/


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.
8 of 15 Michael Caulfield/


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.
9 of 15 Michael Caulfield/


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.
10 of 15 Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Michael Caulfield/; Jeff Kravitz/


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.
11 of 15 Lester Cohen/


Bon Jovi kicked off their set with "We Weren't Born to Follow" before being joined by Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles for "Who Says You Can't Go Home." And because it's just not a Bon Jovi show without a little "Livin' on a Prayer," the Jersey boys brought it home with the classic tune, which was chosen by fans online.
12 of 15 Jeff Kravitz/


The Dave Matthews Band put forth a characteristically mellow take on "You and Me" that built with the gradual addition of a backing choir that energized the performance. Dave felt it. How else to explain that spazzy dancing?
13 of 15 Jeff Kravitz/


Andrea Bocelli sang Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in Italian for a touching (and vocally stunning) tribute to Haiti. He later switched to English, welcoming Mary J. Blige who went note-for-note with the famed tenor.
14 of 15 Jeff Kravitz/


Country legend Leon Russell and Best New Artist The Zac Brown Band cranked through a few bars of "America the Beautiful" before moving on to Russell's "Dixie Lullaby" and ZBB's hit "Chicken Fried."
15 of 15 Michael Caulfield/


The simplicity of Maxwell's "Pretty Wings" didn't have the flash of the night's other numbers, but it was a nice change of pace. It segued nicely into a classy duet with Roberta Flack on her hit "Where Is the Love."