It was a night of over-the-top fashion and thank yous cut short, superpower duets (Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks) and the requisite posthumous collaboration (Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Usher, Smokey Robinson and Jennifer Hudson) — all perfectly in line with Grammy tradition. For others, like Kings of Leon, who celebrated a near sweep, taking three out of their four nominated categories including Record of the Year, it was just another night of debaucherous drinking.Â More on that later. But first: Gaga. (Click above to watch hilarious red-carpet interviews with Kings of Leon, Andy Samberg, Phoenix, MGMT, Silversun Pickups, Paramore, Jason Mraz, LMFAO and more.)
To say her arrival on the red carpet was highly anticipated would be an understatement of giant headdress proportions. Long before the sun went down, all eyes were on the fierce Miss Fame's entrance. Suffice it to say, she did not disappoint in any of her four get-ups, starting with a custom Armani stardust-inspired prom dress. And having nabbed Best Dance Recording and Best Dance Album in the pre-telecast (that's also where Taylor Swift accepted her very first Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, presented by Mick Fleetwood), Gaga was already a winner.
Britney Spears provoked a frenzied assault when she, her agent-boyfriend Jason Trawick and a burly posse dashed past reporters and photographers. That kind of reception was reserved for a select few: Rihanna, weathering an uneasy anniversary, Katy Perry, for simply looking fabulous (her "Indian Betty Paige" look, she told RS, was inspired by a "love of movies from the Forties" and her recent trip to India with Russell Brand. "It's where I got engaged so it makes it all the more special"), and, of course, Gaga.
As for the other ladies of the night, with the exception of her riot police performance escorts for "If I Were A Boy," Beyoncé kept things low-key while Taylor Swift had plenty of friends singing her praises. "She's the one girl that I know who stays after and signs everything," said Paramore's Hayley Williams, who celebrated New Year's with Swift. "She works so hard, writes her own songs and is very young, I look up to her."
But even those who thought they had zero chance, and there were plenty of them — Andy Samberg estimated he had a zillion to one shot of nabbing best rap collaboration, Silversun Pickups' Brian Aubert flat-out declared, "We're not winning" Best New Artist, while Best Electronic/Dance Album nominees LMFAO simply said, "next year's gonna be a great year!" — were in good spirits, and that jovial vibe extended to backstage at the Staples Center as the three-and-a-half hour program started.
That's where, after winning for Best Rock Album, Green Day paused to catch up with Alice Cooper. Following his shared victory in Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals, T-Pain took a plastic fork to his Grammy and asked for some noodles to scoop out of the gramophone. And in a moment of ridiculous cuteness, Pink and on-again husband Carey Hart took a ballroom dip while posing for photographer Danny Clinch.
It was also the place where performers could unwind, stop for a moment and reflect, which is exactly what up-and-comer Drake was doing following his performance with Eminem, Lil Wayne and Travis Barker: thinking back to 2009 when he sat in the nose bleeds. "I was in section 304," he said. "I kept my ticket." As one of Wayne's last performances before his incarceration on gun charges, Drake says the two "had a great moment" onstage. "I gave him a big hug and told him I loved him," said Drake. "It was amazing."