But what about the unofficial Watercooler Awards, as we like to call them? The odd and inappropriate moments that merit that prize will go down in everlasting infamy, we tell you. (Or at least be good for a half-week's worth of office chatter.) And after an unprovocative start in which even Nicki Minaj seemed unusually tame, we did finally get a few of those memorable tidbits. Special word up to Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera, in particular, both of whose appearances briefly threatened to break Twitter.
J.Lo's medley actually managed to include something to offend everybody, which is quite a feat in this day and age. Folks who weren't bothered by the raunchy, borderline-NSFW sexuality of her bumping and grinding with Pitbull were sure to take issue with the crass commercialism that had her basically hosting a live Fiat commercial. And vice versa.
Lopez first appeared in a long, classy gown mock-crying her way through a sensitive ballad, only to step, give a mischievous you-know-I'm-no-good look, and wait for trip wires to whisk most of her clothing away. She still had another, slinkier dress on when she got into the on-stage Fiat and pretended to drive it into the bowels of hell to which we would soon descend. Exiting the car, she removed the dress and revealed a flesh-toned body stocking, which Pitbull leered at and rubbed up against... shortly before he went over and did a duet with her ex, Marc Anthony.
Even Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher had to be watching Pitbull's twin appearances with the merry divorcees and thinking: What in the living...?
But even if you like seeing a woman with hips, there were still doubts to be had about her hair, not to mention layers of makeup that ran even deeper than her cleavage. Martina McBride -- who sang with Aguilera at the last Grammys -- tweeted "Some stylist is gonna get fired tonight," during Aguilera's appearance. You might be inclined to agree if it didn't seem so clear from some of Christina's other recent appearances that that's the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) she likes it.
Anyone not suffering from a fast-developing terminal illness can hope Mannillo's prophecy doesn't prove to be true, but it was at least pretty funny, with the two guys doing a sort of variation on "I'm Too Sexy" by flaunting their supposedly sexy bods and hot moves while flanked by some actual hardbodies. And flanked, too, for a few bars, by Justin Bieber, who is nothing if not a good, game sport about joining in ridiculous reindeer games.
And that impression didn't entirely go away, as Clarkson sang in more of an R&B style than usual, though the arrangement bore little resemblance to anything Clarkson or Adele would usually do. Her recent single had been turned into a sort of nostalgic jump-blues number, complete with a horn section. The newsboy extras surrounding her were a little, well, Newsies, as many Twitterers pointed out. But "Mr. Know-It-All" actually sounded better in this stylistically wild remake than it did on record, and Clarkson briefly threatened to class up the joint... even if it was clear this inexplicable outbreak of live singing could never last.
To his credit, Bieber also sang noticeably live, though he was a little more wobbly as he ran through his Christmas reggae song. The kid's voice is changing, so we can all cut him a break, right? We're not sure whether to give Justin any credit or not, though, for combining the secular and sacred so unassuredly in lines like "The wise men followed a star the way I followed my heart... Your lips on my lips."
Bieber's girlfriend, Selena Gomez, was responsible for the most engaging duets of the night, even if we couldn't actually hear her and seatmate/BFF Taylor Swift singing along in the front row to every song. Next time, ABC, plant some mics and give us a live feed of the Swift/Gomez background vocals on the website.
A few other highlights, lowlights, and question-mark moments:
Were those giant suction cups she had on her rear end?
Did Minaj's featured co-star, David Guetta, really have anything to do during that number besides jump up and down supportively in a hoodie?
How many itty-bitty bird steps did it take Minaj to make her way across the stage to pick up her award, aided by a bodyguard, in that hilariously constricting dress and high heels?
Is Adam Lambert still being punished for the events of two years ago? Sure, they let him back on the show... but he had to introduce One Republic.
Is One Republic also bored by One Republic?
When J.Lo was giving an acceptance speech for favorite Latin artist, and the cameras quickly cut to manager Benny Medina as soon as she mentioned him, is there any way the producers didn't have a copy of her acceptance speech ahead of time? Or do they always keep a camera trained on Medina, just in case?
Drake, we love you just as much as the New York Times, but what is up with the glove?
Did Robin Thicke mean to be funny when he said he'd had a conversation backstage with co-presenter Ellie Goulding, then proceeded to mispronounce it twice anyway? Why wasn't she laughing?
Did Beyonce fail to show up because she is incapacitated for travel by her pregnancy, as Goulding stated, or because she is busy promoting her new DVD, as Beyonce herself announced in her taped acceptance speech?
Just how awesome will Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton's Glee-for-old-people movie be?
Should we think less or more of Mick Jagger for Skype-ing in his part on Will.I.Am's song?
Why was Will.I.Am's head disembodied, and should we care how it was done, or what the effect was supposed to be?
And, finally, is "go hard or go home" really the challenge or choice he should be offering anyone toward the end of as long a telecast as this one?
- Arts & Entertainment
- Nicki Minaj
- Nicki Minaj
- Nicki Minaj
- Taylor Swift
- Taylor Swift
- Christina Aguilera