If you were Ms. Adkins, you undoubtedly loved the show, because you won darn-near everything (and slayed in your comeback performance). If you were the Foo Fighters' frontman, you also undoubtedly loved it, not just because you won darn-near everything, but also because you appeared to be having a thoroughly awesome time whilst doing so. Grohl was the secret-MVP of the telecast, thanks to his Slayer T-shirt, rambling acceptance speech, that shot of him totally feeling Deadmau5's performance, and everything that happened in the last three minutes of Paul McCartney's night-closing jam, especially the 45-second stretch where he stood directly behind McCartney during "The End," grinning like a new enrollee at Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy Camp.
If you were Minaj, well, let's just say that eventually, after spending years convincing yourself it wasn't that bad, you'll end up watching the footage on YouTube and discover it was actually worse. From arriving on the Grammy carpet with a dude dressed like the pope to an odd, over-the-top, obtuse-to-the-point-of-self-parody performance of "Roman Holiday" (your move, Gaga) — with a Best New Artist loss to a guy dressed like a social-studies teacher thrown in at some point in-between — it was not a great night for you.
Nor was it much fun for Lady Gaga, who, despite bringing a scepter to the show (inspired!), was essentially an afterthought. Or Katy Perry, whose performance never truly seemed to get on track. Or Mumford & Sons, who went winless in four categories on Sunday night, meaning they didn't get to leave their seats once during the three-and-a-half hour show.
There were, of course, artists who managed to shine from beneath Adele's and the Foos' respective shadows. Jennifer Hudson, whose tribute to the late Whitney Houston was both nuanced and emotional (a tricky thing to pull off), surely only added to her ever-growing legend. Taylor Swift displayed class and sass — and maybe grew up a little bit before our very eyes — with her performance of "Mean." The Civil Wars appeared to be genuinely likeable people. Shoot, even David Guetta, Chris Brown and Lil Wayne managed to make it out of that whole "EDM Tribute" debacle relatively unscathed.
But what about the viewers at home? Well, I'm sure the folks who were outraged last year when Arcade Fire beat Eminem for Album of the Year — folks like Steve Stoute, the marketing exec/music vet who was so upset by incident that he penned an open letter to the Grammy governing body that compared Em to Bob Dylan — really liked the show a lot. So, too, one can assume, did dudes who like Dubstep (more often than not, these are the same people). It was, after all, the first Grammy telecast in recent memory that went almost entirely by the books, giving the year's best-selling artist three-quarters of the year's biggest awards (Album, Record and Song of the Year). Was that a result of Grammy voters bowing to public pressure to make the show more representative of the actual whims of music-buying community, or was Adele's 21 the rare album that so seized the collective conscience that anything less would seem outrageous? I'm inclined to think it was the latter. But still, at the end of the day, peering up and down the winner's list ... these were very much the people's Grammys.
On the other hand, if you were someone who was slightly inspired by Arcade Fire's AOTY win (even though you'd never admit to your kickball team/artesian cheese monger/barista girlfriend), well, there's a pretty good chance you're feeling conflicted about the Grammys. On one hand, you love everything Adele stands for — and in opposition to — and you're happy she won. On the other, well, dude, you were sort of rooting for Bon Iver ... especially if his wins might have symbolized some profound change in the minds of Grammy voters. Alas, we ended up with more of the same ... though, in a pinch, we'll take Best New Artist.
In short, the 54th Grammys were the show we're always complaining about whenever we're complaining about the Grammys. Predictable. Poorly paced. Pandering. By the same token, they were perfectly representative of the year in music, which is all the Steve Stoutes of the world were asking for in the first place. And so, once again, the awards remain caught between those two extremes. And in a year where both sides could at least agree on Adele, that doesn't exactly bode well for the future. Then again, I suppose that no matter what happens, there will be some segment of music fans who will be upset. If the 54th Grammys taught us anything, perhaps it's that you really can't win. But you most certainly can lose. Just ask Nicki Minaj.
What did you think of the 54th Grammy Awards? Leave your comment below!