The 53rd annual Grammy Awards aired Sunday night. There were a handful of great performances, a surprise video message from a thin Aretha Franklin and exactly one award shocker. And a lot of angry Justin Bieber fans.
The big surprise of the night was jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding beating out both Bieber and Drake for best new artist. “I take this honor to heart so sincerely, and I will do my damndest to make a whole lot of great music for all of you,” Spalding said in her acceptance speech, the most articulate of the evening.
Spalding is the first jazz artist to be named Best New Artist, according to MTV. She is not exactly new though, her latest release is actually her third album.
Tech-savvy fans Bieber fans upset by Spalding’s win immediately updated her Wikipedia page with some not very nice updates. Among the most creative contributions were changing her name to “Esperanza Quesadilla Spalding” and describing her as a “F****** REATARD” [sic.] (Image via Gawker)
The evening started off with a star packed tribute performance to the Queen of Soul. A much smaller Jennifer Hudson joined Christina Aguilera, Martina McBride, Yolanda Adams and Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine for a medley of Aretha Franklin hits.
Following the tribute, a skinny and hatless Franklin appeared via a pre-recorded message from her home in Detroit where she is recovering from a December surgery for an undisclosed condition (which a family friend originally identified as pancreatic cancer). She thanked the academy and her fans for their prayers, good wishes, and get-well-soon cards.
The country-pop trio Lady Antebellum (who may or may not have a racist band name) was a big winner, landing five prizes, while Arcade Fire won album of the year for “The Suburbs.” The former is being hailed as a triumph for independent music labels.
Rapper Eminem–the most-nominated artist with a total of 10 nominations and who’s responsible for 2010’s best selling album–won two Grammys for best rap album album and rap solo performance.
In the night’s performances, an absolutely amazing crowd-surfing Janelle Monáe shocked and awed during her performance of “Cold War” with Bruno Mars and B.o.B. Cee-Lo was joined on stage with about a dozen Muppets to perform the tamed version of his hit “F*** You.” Midway through his performance Gwyneth Paltrow showed up and hopped on top of the piano for a duet.
You can’t seem to escape the Will Smith clan these days. A leopard-print tights wearing Jaden Smith performed “Never Say Never” with Bieber. Their performance included some multitasking Samurais who were drumming, fire breathing and doing a whole lot of acrobatics. (Photo: Jaden Smith (L) and Justin Bieber perform onstage during the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards. Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Lady Gaga’s performance wasn’t over the top. But she did have a surprising revelation during her acceptance speech for her best pop vocal album win: “I need to say thank you tonight to Whitney Houston. I wanted to thank Whitney because when I wrote ‘Born This Way,’ I imagined she was singing it because I wasn’t secure enough in myself to imagine I was a superstar. So Whitney, I imagined you were singing ‘Born This Way’ when I wrote it. Thank you.”
Finally, since Bieber’s loss to Spaulding is stealing all the headlines, we’ll close with her side of the story. “When this is all over, we’re all colleagues again, just like we were before,” she says. “He sold more records than me. We’re doing our thing in our respective fields. He’s unquestionably a talented man. What can I say? I didn’t beat him. I’m taking that thing home. He has great hair, and I have great hair.”