Sure, the Grammys belonged to Adele on Sunday night. And Whitney Houston’s death cast a long shadow over the celebration. But there were a number of other surprises that you might not have noticed.
1. Bon Iver rips the Grammys, still wins.
Leading up to Sunday’s awards, Bon Iver (real name Justin Vernon) was unabashedly critical of the “biggest night in music.”
He refused to perform, and then told Billboard: “We kind of said ‘f— you’ a little bit.”
That didn’t stop him from winning a pair of awards, including the prestigious Best New Artist.
When he accepted honor, Vernon refused to ease up on his critique, making several references to all that talent that was not in attendance.
“Thank you to the nominees, and the non-nominees that have never been here and will never be here.”
He also described his discomfort with even winning the award.
So will he be invited back next year?
2. Chris Brown may never rehabilitate his image.
Brown took to the stage shortly before his former beau, Rihanna, an apt contrast since Twitter was as concerned about his violent past as his actual performance.
Brown assaulted Rihanna back in 2009, and it appears few are willing to forgive him. While he performed, people of all backgrounds protested his very appearance on stage.
They included journalism professors (“Boooo!,” tweeted Columbia’s Emily Bell), TV critics (“Chris Brown is immensely talented. Sucks he’s also such a d-bag,” tweeted TVLine’s Michael Ausiello) and fake Newt Gingrich, who wrote, “Make Chris Brown my running mate so I’ll look like less of a misogynist by comparison.”
Yes, it was rough seas for the R&B star, whose brightly colored backdrop and swift dance moves did little to stem the tide of vitriol.
As another tweeter put it, “Chris Brown just killed his performance and woman beater is trending on twitter? He trys his hardest and all everyone does is put him down.”
Sure, he won a Grammy. But what good is it if Twitter thinks you’re a jerk?
3. Kanye West was Missing in Action
West, who angered many for interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 Video Music Awards, chose not to attend.
Too bad for him, because he was a big winner. He won Best Rap Song, Best Rap Album, Best Rap Collaboration and Best Rap Performance (with Jay-Z).
Jay-Z didn’t appear either, but in Jay’s defense, he has a newborn. What’s Kanye’s excuse?
Maybe it was this: as Toure put it, “Kanye wins Best Rap Album for the best album in years but isn’t nominated for Best Album. #JustWrong”
4. Coldplay’s Chris Martin is so bad at singing, people would rather listen to commercials.
Coldplay is one of the best-selling bands of the last decade and its front man, Chris Martin, is thought to have one of the sweetest voices around.
But, boy, you couldn’t tell on Sunday night.
Martin, joined by his bandmates, performed alongside Rihanna and he never seemed to find the right pitch. Hey, it’s only his job.
Oddly, a Chipotle commercial aired right after the performance featuring Coldplay’s music, prompting Time magazine’s James Poniewozick to tweet “Coldplay-based Chipotle commercial > actual Coldplay performance.”
Many shared in the Martin bashing, including the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. Grohl and his bandmates picked up an award for Best Rock Album, beating out Martin and Coldplay. While on stage, Grohl took a swipe at those using auto-tune (read: Martin).
Better luck next year, Chris.
5. The Beach Boys reunion underwhelmed.
There was a great deal of excitement in advance of the Beach Boys reunion that would take place on the Staples Center stage, but by the time the California dreamers actually appeared, everyone was already up in arms.
Because Maroon 5 and Foster the People were forced to imitate the harmony and ’60s doo-wop-ness of Brian Wilson & Co. Those two bands have had their share of success, but getting them to try and mimic the Beach Boys was a bad idea from the start.
The Grammys often reaches across generations – as it did last year with the likes of Bob Dylan and Mumford & Sons. Some have hit, some have missed. File this in the second category.
It’s unfortunate too, because the Beach Boys weren’t half bad.
6. The Grammys <3 electronic music
While many prominent DJs have had worldwide followings for years, it took one person to get the establishment to notice: Skrillex.
World-famous DJs like Tiesto and David Guetta attract less attention stateside, but when an American like Skrillex comes along, sweeping up domestic fans, everyone from The New York Times to L.A. Weekly wants a piece.
It seems the Grammys took notice. They put Canadian DJ Deadmau5 on stage with Guetta, Lil Wayne and the Foo Fighters.
But when it came to the awards, the Recording Academy gave Skrillex a clean sweep of the electronic/dance music categories, passing over the likes of Guetta, Robyn and Deadmau5.
The one award Skrillex didn’t win? Best New Artist.
So they aren’t fully on the EDM bandwagon, but at least they tried.