We have to admit that, compared to recent years, the 51st edition of the Grammy Awards ceremonies did carry a bit of suspense. For instance, Would Lil Wayne be the first rapper to win Album of the Year, and if so, would his pants stay up? If they won Song of the Year for "Viva La Vida," would Coldplay get coldcocked onstage by Joe Satriani, the guitarist whose instrumental "If I Could Fly" surely seemed to have been stolen lock, stock, and riff by Chris Martin and crew? Would ultra-pregnant M.I.A., appearing on her actual due date, become the first Grammy nominee to drop a baby right in the middle of a performance? And what on earth happened between Chris Brown and Rihanna, both of whom were no-shows on the telecast owing to a late Saturday night post-party altercation that apparently left Rihanna injured and Brown arrested on battery charges?
Well, over the course of a three-and-a-half-hour program in which a grand total of 10 (!) awards were actually given out (believe it or not, the rest of the 110 total Grammys up for grabs were all doled out, as has been the practice for some time now, in a hurried pre-telecast ceremony on the floor of L.A.'s Staples Center), we did get answers to the first three of those four questions: respectively, no, no and no.
Lil Wayne won Best Rap Album, but not Album of the Year, which, as per the Recording Academy's usual conservative bent, went to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss's Americana album Raising Sand. Coldplay won Song of the Year without anyone yelling, "Thief!" And M.I.A., wearing a sort of maternity leotard thing, made it through her part on "Swagga Like Us" without going into labor--though for any of us who actually made it through the whole darned show, labor was indeed the operative word.
As for the Chris Brown/Rihanna flareup, we'll probably need to wait for the police blotter sometime tomorrow to find out about that one.
The "Rising To The Occasion" Award goes to Jennifer Hudson, for surpassing her dramatic rendition of the national anthem at last week's Super Bowl with a riveting (and decidedly non-lip-synched) performance of her uplifting "You Pulled Me Through."
The "Stooping To The Occasion" Award goes to Thom Yorke and Radiohead, whose whiny rendition of "15 Step" was so bad-vibed that you kind of wished they'd have just left the stage and allowed the USC Trojan Marching Band accompanying them to do the song by themselves.
The "Haven't We Seen This Picture Before?" Award goes to Whitney Houston, who looked and sounded as out-of-it as a presenter in 2009 as she did as a performer in 2000, when they had to remind her that her song was over and she kind of needed to leave the stage so the show could continue.
The "I Wonder What They're Thinking Right Now?" Award goes to Dean Martin's son and daughter, who after hearing Queen Latifah salute their late dad's Lifetime Achievement nod, then heard her introduce Kanye West, T.I., Lil Wayne, and Jay-Z as the "Rap Pack." Somewhere, Frank Sinatra is spinning in his grave.
The "Best Date Placement" Award goes to Paul McCartney, for using his upfront aisle-seat pull to show off new gal pal Nancy Shevell. Oh, Heather...
The "I Went To The Grammys And A Boston Red Sox Game Broke Out" Award goes to Neil Diamond, for his pluperfectly cheesy rendition of the Fenway Park 8th-inning staple "Sweet Caroline." And how 'bout those eyebrows?
The "Works Well With Fruit" Award goes to Katy Perry, for making the kitchiest most out of her performance of "I Kissed A Girl," complete with an entrance out of a giant peeled banana (insert your favorite Freud joke here) and a trash 'n' vaudeville outfit that, were she alive today, Carmen Miranda would kill for.
The "Was This In The Script?" Award goes to presenter Samuel L. Jackson, who actually began his intro of T.I. and Justin Timberlake with the following salutation: "People of Earth!" Somewhere, Ed Wood is smiling.
The "Was This In The Script II?" Award goes to presenter Craig Ferguson, who announced that he was up for a Best Sex Tape Award: "It's me vs. Screech." Even Paris Hilton blushed at that one.
And, finally, the "All Kidding Aside" Award goes to NARAS chief Neil Portnow, for noting the organization's commitment to improving health care, saving music education in schools, and protecting musician's intellectual rights. And yes, past Grammy Award winner Barack Obama, a cabinet position of Secretary of the Arts is a pretty good idea. Just ask Quincy Jones.