The 52nd annual Grammy Awards were up against the Pro Bowl, and for once, the show actually had some great, football-style twists and turns. Taylor Swift started the evening as a consensus pick, and won three country awards to start things off. Then she proceeded to miss out on every pop award she was up for, including two key losses to most-nominated Beyonce. The Swift fans were packing up and heading home, when... There's a fumble on the field, and flowing blonde locks in the end zone! Swift closed the show by becoming the youngest artist ever to win Album of the Year.
Yes, it was the Heidi Game of Grammy telecasts. But the voters were into sharing the wealth. We'll spread some, too, with our own post-show kudos:
LEAST NOTICEABLE BIG WINNER
You'd hardly know Beyonce walked away with six Grammys, the most ever by a female artist in one night. Only two of them were presented on the telecast, and in an example of bad traffic control, she couldn't accept one of those—for Song of the Year ("Single Ladies")—because she was about to perform a major production number. The choice to sacrifice her possible acceptance speech for that was good a piece of evidence as any that performances trump trophies on all musical awards shows now.
MOST EYE-STRAINING MICHAEL JACKSON TRIBUTE
Jennifer Hudson, Celine Dion, Usher, and Smokey Robinson sounded terrific "collaborating" with Jackson on "Earth Song." And the 99 percent of us who didn't go to Target to pick up 3D glasses squinted and wondered what the Grammy producers had put in our drink.
MOST GLEE-FUL MOMENT
Yes, we know rock operas predate the Broadway-babies pop of Fox's Glee. But when Green Day performed "21 Guns" with the cast of the upcoming American Idiot Broadway musical, it was tough not to think back on Stephen Colbert's remark about how "the highest honor in music" is "having your song covered by the cast of Glee," and wondering which tail was wagging which dog.
GOOD LOSER OF THE NIGHT
When Taylor Swift lost song of the year to Beyonce, she got up and boogied as "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" blared over the PA. Clearly, she has learned nothing about being a drama queen from Kanye.
SCARIEST LOSER OF THE NIGHT
BEST USE OF COLLAGEN
BEST COMBINATION OF CHOREOGRAPHY AND A SECURITY DETAIL
For her headbanging medley of "If I Were a Boy" and Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know," Beyonce brought along a phalanx of stormtroopers, who looked like they might dance, but whose real purpose seemed to be lining the aisles as she ventured out into the star-studded crowd.
BEST WATER SPORT
Pink, who's done aerial acts before, decided to combine her usual fondness for Cirque du Soleil-style overhead work with the water show the troupe puts on in Vegas, shaking herself at the finale like a cocker spaniel fresh out of a sprinkler. You didn't know whether to be touched by her choice of ballad or wonder whether all the tux-and-gown types below her had been warned they were in the splash zone.
MOST SOLOMONIC WARDROBE CHOICE
Presenter J.Lo couldn't decide whether to wear a floor-length gown or miniskirt, so half of her body went with one style and half with the other.
CECIL B. DEMILLE AWARD
The Dave Matthews Band sang "You and Me," an intimate song about "the two of us together," and, as if to put the lie to that, put a cast of thousands on stage, including strings, horn section, and a choir. Somehow, it was all still musical and lovely.
WORST AIR-TRAFFIC CONTROL MOMENT
Beyonce couldn't pick up the first of her two on-air trophies because someone had scheduled her big number to immediately follow.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
Leon Russell performed with the Zac Brown Band fresh from brain surgery.
MOST UNRECOGNIZABLE STARS
(tie) Presenter Joe Jonas was rocking newly short hair and dweeb glasses. Jennifer Hudson, who participated in the Michael Jackson tribute, looked to have lost about a hundred pounds. Did these celebs learn nothing from Jennifer Grey's nose job?
MOST TRAGICALLY TRUE TRUTHINESS
Speaking to how down-in-the-dumps the music business is, Stephen Colbert quipped, "This year your industry was saved by a 48-year-old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes."
MOST PREGNANT SILENCES
The Nixon tapes had shorter gaps than the dropouts for profanity in the Eminem/Lil Wayne/Drake number. Entire satellite dishes had been disassembled across the country before home viewers realized the problem wasn't on their end.
ODDEST ODD COUPLES
Taylor Swift was paired with Stevie Nicks on "Rhiannon" and "You Belong With Me," only one of which is the story of a white witch. Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige brought the house down with "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
MOST MUSICAL MOMENTS
The pairing of Maxwell and Roberta J. Flack made sense. And where was the stunt value in that? You half-expected Ke$ha to walk out at any moment. But she didn't, nor did any mall rats mar Jeff Beck's tribute to Les Paul. That was Imelda May assuming the Mary Ford role, by the way, in case you're not up on your Irish rockabilly singers.
SADDEST TOKEN CLASSICAL MUSIC MOMENTS
Younger viewers may not recall that the Grammys used to offer token prime-time slots to classical and jazz performances, before they decided to go toe to toe with the MTV Awards. But there were still three key classical music moments on the show after all: The mocking opera intro to Jamie Foxx's number; Placido Domingo co-presenting the best rap/sung award; and, of course, the obit section. Roll over, Beethoven.
The Grammys have given up, for now, on contests that allow amateurs a chance to perform with the stars. But what they replaced it with was a popular vote to determine which of Bon Jovi's biggest hits would be performed. What would have been fun, and suspenseful, was a vote over which cover song the band could do, preferably culled from the record and song of the year nominees. Who wouldn't participate in a poll to see whether Jon and the boys would sing "Single Ladies" or "Poker Face"?
REVELATION OF THE NIGHT
Beyonce actually used the word "husband" in an acceptance speech. Does this mean they're not going to pretend they just happen to be seated together all the time anymore?