Will Rogers once said, "I belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat." He would have loved this show, which somehow managed to squeeze Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Leonard Cohen and Jeff Beck into the same cultural conversation and stage a concert with 16 performances on live television.
Lady Gaga's duet with Elton John opened the telecast with a massive collage with so many shards and snatches of pop culture that people were left, well, gaga. Inside the venue, the closer you sat to the rafters, the louder the response to the greasepaint-and-glitter performance that seemed to pull from the lineages of David Bowie, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Queen and, well, Elton John.
While Gaga was impassive through most of her set, an art-house kewpie, as she left the stage she was grinning broadly, clearly a bit star-struck by her elder duet partner, who was also the co-pilot for rapper Eminem, another ear-catching newcomer, in his big Grammy moment at the other end of this decade.
Pink's gravity-defying performance of "Glitter in the Air" saw her suspended from the ceiling, singing upside down and then, after being dipped into a pool of water, dripping from head-to-toe. Afterward, when asked how she managed to sing in that position, Pink responded, "Actually -- and I'm not kidding -- I do sound better when I'm doing that, for whatever reason. I will say, no one has an excuse for lip-syncing."
Backstage, there was a different kind of spectacle happening, one that saw celebrities from different music orbits collide. Alice Cooper, wearing an outfit that looked like a goth version of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club marching-band uniforms, passed Smokey Robinson, who was beaming and moving fast with a well-practiced speed walk.
The members of the Zac Brown Band looked like extras from "The Dukes of Hazzard" when they passed by Taylor Swift backstage to offer their congratulations on her Grammy success. Swift stopped and gave the best new artist winners the same polite parade smile and nod that she bestowed on other well-wishers.
Not everyone was quite as kind to Swift, however, who did emerge with an end-of-the-evening victory in the album of the year category.
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"What a great actress," said one industry veteran who was sitting in the front section of the Staples audience, after she had won the best country album trophy for her collection "Fearless."
It was a dry appraisal of a singer who is successful in country and pop at a time when crossing over to multiple audiences is desperately important to record label execs.
Oddly enough, the best visual of the night might have been watching women in designer gowns and bejeweled limbs munching on McDonald's burgers sold on the concourse levels of the Lakers palace. It was the kind of visual Rogers certainly would have been able to appreciate.