The 49th Grammy Awards drew as heavily from the past as they did the present for the performance slate at last night’s (Feb. 11) show from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The evening began with the reunited Police playing “Roxanne” and concluded with four-time winners the Red Hot Chili Peppers performing “Snow (Hey Oh)” as confetti rained down on the audience.
The Dixie Chicks gave an impassioned reading of “Not Ready To Make Nice” in the early going, prior to the track winning both record and song of the year. Introduced by Prince, Beyonce belted out “Listen,” which she performs in the smash musical “Dreamgirls.”
Mary J. Blige was a busy woman on the Grammy stage, as she won three awards but also performed twice: first, solo, in a glittering silver dress for a medley of “Be Without You” and “Stay With Me,” and later, with Ludacris and Earth, Wind & Fire on “Runaway Love.”
Performance segments also paid tribute to two music icons who passed away recently, as James Blunt dedicated a stripped-down “You’re Beautiful” to late Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun and Christina Aguilera sang James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” at the conclusion of an impressive, multi-generational R&B-themed segment with Smokey Robinson (“Tracks of My Tears”), Lionel Richie (“Hello”) and Chris Brown (“Run It”). Brown later danced across the stage while Brown’s “Night Train” boomed through the arena, and Brown’s famous cape was draped atop a microphone stand.
Justin Timberlake also performed twice, once at the piano for “What Goes Around Comes Around” and later with “My Grammy Moment” winner Robyn Troup for his own “My Love” featuring T.I. and Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
Carrie Underwood kicked off a combination Bob Willis/Eagles tribute by singing the former’s “San Antonio Rose” and the latter’s “Desperado.” Rascal Flatts rocked up the Eagles’ “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Line.”
One of the only performances to deviate from its studio version was Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” which was dressed up and slowed down thanks to a string section and a choir. The duo of Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse, which frequently dresses up as iconic movie characters, this time took the stage in airline pilot outfits.
Other collaborative efforts included Corrine Bailey Rae, John Legend and John Mayer, who patched together Rae’s “Like a Star,” Legend’s “Coming Home” and Mayer’s “Gravity.” Shakira also joined up with Wyclef Jean and a stage full of dancers for the chart-topper “Hips Don’t Lie.”