The 54th annual Grammy Awards are just a day away and everyone in the MTV Newsroom is starting to get excited. Will Beyoncé” show up? How will Adele sound in her first major live performance since undergoing surgery to repair a vocal cord hemorrhage? What color will Katy Perry”‘s hair be? What will Lady Gaga” wear? We can’t wait to find out. But if last year’s show is any indication, it’s safe to say that just about anything could happen at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Sunday night.
The quirk factor was high at last year’s Grammys, and it got started long before a single award was handed out. Lady Gaga’s red carpet arrival inside of a pearlescent egg carried by four scantily clad dudes wearing prosthetics on their faces and shoulders should have been reminder enough that the unusual is the norm at the Grammys. But in case it wasn’t, the show itself delivered Muppets and Katy Perry on a swing. We’ve rounded up five big moments from last year’s show to remind you why the Grammys are the craziest awards show of the year.
» Lady Gaga arrives in that freakin’ egg, er, “vessel.”
Never one to just casually stroll the red carpet in a pretty dress, Lady Gaga went to great lengths to make every element of her Grammy appearance part of a larger art piece that culminated in the performance of her then-new single “Born this Way.” It all started on the red carpet, when she arrived already inside her “vessel,” later claiming to Jay Leno that she’d been in a state of artistic incubation inside it for 72 hours. (Did you just roll your eyes? We think you just rolled your eyes!) The pop star emerged to deliver a full-voiced — if otherwise joyless — performance of the song, which at the time was drawing heavy criticism for sounding maybe a little too much like Madonna’s 1989 classic “Express Yourself,” and went on to score three Grammys, including Best Pop Vocal Album for The Fame Monster.
» Did Christina Aguilera fall down after that showstopping Aretha Franklin tribute?
Last year’s ceremony kicked off with an Aretha Franklin tribute featuring Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Florence Welch, Martina McBride and Yolanda Adams. The ladies delivered a rousing group performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman” before launching into solos of “Ain’t No Way,” “Until You Come Back to Me,” “Think,” “Respect” and “Spirit in the Dark” and closing with “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” — tearing the roof off the Staples Center. Except all anyone wanted to talk about afterward was how Christina maybe slipped a little in her towering heels.
The performance came just one week after Xtina botched “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XLV (luckily, Kelly Clarkson’s rendition this year went smoothly), and it seemed like the “Beautiful” singer and “Voice” judge had fully redeemed herself after the debacle, delivering a fantastic vocal performance … until she stumbled onstage, sending gossips into a tizzy that the singer may have been, we’ll say, out of sorts during the performance despite much evidence to the contrary. Or maybe people just like a good near-fall? People get very excited when an entertainer loses her footing — don’t they, Madonna?
Anyway, while everyone tried to make Xtina’s mini-tumble a bigger story than it was, the ladies earned a richly deserved standing ovation for their tribute to Franklin, who was rather ill at the time but has since recovered, lost a bunch of weight, gotten engaged and ended that engagement. (A year in Hollywood time is like five years in normal person time … maybe that’s why everyone is so afraid of getting older!)
» Bieber performs big, loses Best New Artist to unknown jazz bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding.
Justin Bieber’s medley performance began with an acoustic strum through “Baby” but quickly segued into a raucous take on “Never Say Never,” complete with breakdancing ninja acrobats, fire breathers and a cameo rap by “Karate Kid” star Jaden Smith. Biebs’ mentor Usher even joined in on the fun for a pop-and-lock-heavy dance-off to his hit “OMG.”
But the real story with Bieber at last year’s Grammys was that he lost. To Esperanza Spalding. A critically acclaimed but otherwise unknown jazz performer. Bieber didn’t take the loss so well but his fans went even crazier, expressing the profound sadness they felt and bearing witness to their idol’s defeat by hacking Spalding’s Wikipedia page and changing her middle name to both “Justin” and “Quesadilla.” One fan wrote, “Justin Bieber deserved it go die in a hole. Who the heck are you anyway?” while another scribbled, “So the Esperanza Spalding has only 8 thousand followers on twitter and how many does Justin Bieber has?”
It seems someone forgot to tell the Belieber army that the Grammys are not a popularity contest (well, they’re not supposed to be, anyway) and that one’s amount of Twitter followers is not taken into account when deciding the winners. Duly noted!
» Katy Perry performed the ballad “Not Like the Movies” while on a swing, playing video from her wedding to Russell Brand.
If you needed further proof that a lot can change in just a single year, look no further than Katy Perry’s performance at last year’s ceremony. Much like she did on her California Dreams Tour, Perry performed her ballad “Not Like the Movies” while sitting on a swing as video from her elaborate October 2010 wedding to Russell Brand was projected behind her.
Though one would think a sweet performance like Katy’s would shut the gossip mill down for at least a little while, the couple was already back to defending their strange union less than two months later when Brand co-hosted “Live!” with Kelly Ripa. By year’s end, Perry and Brand’s marriage was officially no more, and it made re-watching her performance from last year for the purposes of this article, um, kind of awkward.
» Cee Lo performed “Forget You” with a bunch of Muppets (and Gwyneth Paltrow).
No, no one at your Grammy party spiked your drink. Cee Lo Green, wearing a crazy red bear suit and a rainbow fan of feathers (think peacock), really did perform his Grammy-nominated smash “Forget You” backed by a bunch of singing and dancing Muppets while Oscar-winning home health guru Gwyneth Paltrow writhed atop his piano. Oddly, the whole thing worked like gangbusters and was a big old ball of fun. (And when was the last time anyone associated the word “fun” with Gwyneth Paltrow? Such is the funky power of Cee Lo.)
This year’s show has the potential to outdo last year’s in the water-cooler department with Rihanna and Chris Brown both set to perform under the same roof for the first time since, well, you know … in addition to plenty of interesting collabos, including a special electronic dance music performance set to feature the Foo Fighters (right?), and whatever Lady Gaga decides to get into.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Grammys? Let us know in the comments below.
Chaos! Profanity! Wardrobe malfunctions! Don’t miss our Grammy red-carpet live stream this Sunday, February 12, for a full three hours of mayhem, starting at 5 p.m. ET on MTV.com. And the fun doesn’t end Sunday: MTV News has you covered for all the Grammy red-carpet fashion, Grammy winners and Grammy news until the hangover wears off!