While the Grammy Awards theoretically seek to reward the best music of the year with their Golden Gramophones, the real reason to tune into Sunday night’s (January 31) show was for the star-studded, show-stopping performances. Fans were treated to a number of incredible collaborations between modern marvels and living legends (Lady Gaga and Elton John, Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks, the Zac Brown Band and Leon Russell), all-star team-ups (Drake, Eminem and Lil Wayne, Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli) and simply stunning set pieces (Beyoncé, Dave Matthews Band, Pink).
But who had the best performance at the 2010 version of the Grammy Awards? Gaga and John certainly could make the case, as their run through “Poker Face,” “Speechless” and “Your Song” was a theatrical, over-the-top spectacle that fit both of their massive personalities. Beyoncé’s take on “If I Were a Boy” and Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” showcased everything her incredible voice is capable of, from stirring balladry to turned-to-11 rock. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift’s performance of “Today Was a Fairytale,” “Rhiannon” and “You Belong With Me” showcased how her sound brings together elements of country, straight pop, bluegrass, folk and classic rock for a unique stew that, as her Album of the Year win proves, appeals to all kinds of fans across all kinds of formats.
Some of the performances went for simplicity, like Lady Antebellum’s run through “Need You Now” or Bon Jovi’s rugged take on three classic tunes from their deep catalog. Others were all about building the biggest spectacle possible, like Green Day’s run through “21 Guns” (with the help of the cast of their bound-for-Broadway musical “American Idiot”) or the tribute to Michael Jackson (which included Usher, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Celine Dion, Smokey Robinson and a 3D film).
So at the end of the day, who reigned supreme? Vote in the poll below and make your extended arguments in the comments. And if you need a refresher on some of the performances, be sure to check out the Grammy performances photo collection as well as the performance videos.