Nicki Minaj may have walked away Grammy-less on Sunday (February 12), but she still managed to deliver one of the most talked-about performances of the night.
In the show’s final act the animated rap star — who lost out to Bon Iver for Best New Artist — channeled her infamous alter ego Roman Zolanski onstage, leading the audience through a rap exorcism of sorts. At one point, she even levitated, while speaking in tongues and jumping around against a fiery backdrop.
Minaj caused a Twitter frenzy earlier in the night when she hit the red carpet wearing a blood-red, hooded robe accompanied by a man dressed like the Pope, and she continued her spirited church-act onstage. Minaj marched out sporting a brown ball gown and long, bleached-blond locks, and performed a skit before launching into her new single, “Roman Holiday,” from her upcoming sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.
It was a show that Lady Gaga (who was also missed by the Grammy fairy this go-round) would have been proud of. In a pre-taped skit, Minaj was surrounded by stained glass and other religious imagery, eerily putting on lipstick, singing “I Feel Pretty.” She then climbed a wall to have an exchange with the strange Pope-like figure, a man who’s real identity remains unknown.
After being strapped to a leather lab table onstage, she rapped backed by a goth-looking church choir that sang a haunting version of “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” At the crescendo, she was lifted by an invisible rope into the Grammy sky. Shooting flames helped to complete the fiery, head-scratching number.