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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Ten Best Moments of the 2011 Grammy Awards

Posted By on Sun, Feb 13, 2011 at 10:55 PM

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The Aretha Franklin Tribute Aretha Franklin has recently been ill, although in recent days she attended an NBA game in Detroit and stressed that her health was "superb." Nevertheless, the tribute to the Queen of Soul seemed perfectly timed -- and was a positive way to start off the night. Christina Aguilera made us remember what a beautiful voice she has, while Jennifer Hudson made singing Aretha look easy. (Plus, she had the appropriate amount of diva-sass for the occasion.) Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) held her own, as did Martina McBride and a lovely Yolanda Adams. Franklin herself even appeared in a pre-taped video - looking every inch the glamorous diva while dressed in white.

Mumford and Sons/Avett Brothers/Bob Dylan A to Z joked over at Twitter that everybody in America turned off NPR when this performance started. But in reality, this trio of artists turned in one of the best performances of the night. U.K. folk-rock sensations Mumford & Sons started things off with a rousing, energetic version of "The Cave" -- so huge and so soaring, it's hard to believe the band played at (relatively) tiny Off Broadway last June. A stylish, saloon-styled Avett Brothers followed up with an equally rollicking "Head Full Of Doubt / Road Full Of Promise"; the traditional performance felt beamed in from 1888.

And then the legendary Bob Dylan stepped up to the mic. Sounding more than a smidge like Tom Waits, he sang "Maggie's Farm" with gravelly exuberance. Both bands (and several other auxiliary musicians) backed him up, and you could tell that every member of Avetts/Mumford & Sons were probably silently freaking out at backing up Dylan. The song made it even more obvious that Dylan's the patron saint of the Avetts/Mumford scene -- but it's clear that the torch isn't ready to be passed on completely anytime soon.

Cee-Lo Green, the Muppets and Gwyneth Paltrow Yes, you read that combo right. Cee Lo Green sported a feathery costume with plenty of red -- he looked like he was wearing the remnants of Toucan Sam -- and pounded out a clean version of "Fuck You." Around him, Muppets -- including a chipper costumed dog, a drummer with a brain outside his head and three glittery back-up singers -- added psychedelic levity. Then, well, Gwyneth Paltrow showed up (why not?) and vamped her way through some accompaniment, when she wasn't sprawling on the piano singing all up in Cee-Lo's face. Totally hilarious, totally lighthearted -- and totally a solid performance.

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