When LL Cool J took the stage to host the 54th Grammy Awards last night, he immediately cleared the air and set the tone for a show that was mostly full of reflective moments, with a few bursts of celebrating the healing powers of music.
“There is no way around this,” said the host, who appeared to have tear-stained cheeks. “We’ve had a death in our family.”
He then led the crowd in a prayer to remember Whitney Houston, who died on Saturday. Later in the show, Jennifer Hudson belted out a crushing version of “I Will Always Love You” for which Houston won the Record of the Year award in 1994. Hudson’s rendition was full of sadness and beauty, much like Houston’s all too short life. The tribute was especially touching, given that Houston — who had six Grammy Awards to her name — had presented Hudson with her first Grammy award just three years earlier.
Speaking of goosebump-inducing performances and Record of the Year awards, when Adele sang “Rolling in the Deep,” her first performance since having vocal surgery in November, she brought the whole crowd to its feet.
The British singer won every single award she was nominated for this year, including the big three, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year.
“Thank you so much, this is ridiculous,” Adele said upon winning the Record of the Year award. In accepting other awards, she was humble and quick to deflect attention to her co-writers. And when she won the final award, she burst into tears, and had a hilarious moment where she acknowledged “a little bit of snot.”
Elsewhere in the show, some of the evening’s performances seemed inappropriately over-the-top, such as Chris Brown’s two appearances, and Nicki Minaj’s elaborate rap opera of “The Exorcism of Roman.” Foo Fighters turned in passionate, yet purposefully understated performances of “Walk” and “Rope,” the former of which won the Grammy for Best Rock Song. Dave Grohl and company quietly won five awards, including Best Rock Album.
Record of the Year: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep”
Album of the Year: Adele, “21”
Song of the Year: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep”
Best New Artist: Bon Iver
Best Rock Album: Foo Fighters “Wasting Light”
Best Rap Album: Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”
Best Country Album: Lady Antebellum, “Own the Night”
Best Alternative Album: Bon Iver “Bon Iver”
Celebrities react to Whitney Houston's death