The big shocker at this year’s Grammy Awards happened the night before, of course, when pop icon Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel room in Beverly Hills. At the show itself, 23-year-old British singer Adele swept the awards, with wins for Song of the Year and Record of the Year (“Rolling in the Deep”), Best Pop Solo Performance (“Someone Like You”) and Best Pop Vocal Album and Album of the Year (21.)
Singing “Deep” live at the Staples Center in L.A., Adele got to show the world that recent surgery on her vocal cords hadn’t hampered her voice one bit. And 21 was the odds-on favorite—the best-selling album of 2011, with 5.82 million copies sold.
Other winners included Bon Iver (Best New Artist), Taylor Swift (Best Country Song for “Mean”), The Foo Fighters (Best Rock Performance for “Walk”), Kanye West (Best Rap Album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), Chris Brown (Best R&B Album for F.A.M.E.) and Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse (Best Pop Duo for “Body and Soul”). Passing awway in July, Winehouse was another tragic loss to the music community.
There was an eclectic roster of live performances Sunday night, with Rihanna teaming up with Coldplay, Nicki Minaj doing a whole altar boy/confessional thing for “Roman’s Holiday” and the Beach Boys joining Maroon 5 and Foster for the People on stage. We didn’t feel much love for “Part of Me,” the new Katy Perry single she debuted at the show. But maybe we were distracted by her whole blue-haired Jem and the Holograms look.
With Houston’s death so fresh a certain sadness hung over the evening: Said host LL Cool J (left), “We were up all night. We just wanted to figure out [and] show Whitney Houston the love, the appreciation… the respect she deserves based on her as a human being and the career that she had…” LL explained. “At the same time, there are so many other artists here that are nominated. This is a new Grammy experience for some of them, some are back again, and they deserve to have a good time and enjoy themselves and not be weighed down by the burden. “[It’s] about finding a balance.”
The late singer received a musical tribute from Jennifer Hudson, who delivered a soulful take on “I Will Always Love You.” After performing “Sunday Kind of Love” in tribute to Etta James, who died in January, singers Alicia Keyes and Bonnie Raitt said to the audience, “We love you, Etta! We love you, Whitney! We’ll never forget you.”
Visit Grammys.com for a full list of winners.