Grammys: Jennifer Hudson's Whitney Houston Tribute Tops the Show's 5 Best Moments

jennifer hudson grammysIn the aftermath of Whitney Houston’s death Saturday afternoon in her Beverly Hills hotel suite, I fully expected Grammy producers to open their 2012 award ceremony with a triubute to the fallen pop icon. Strangely enough, though, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s sublime cover of Houston’s most iconic ballad, “I Will Always Love You,” didn’t happen until the 2:42 mark, casting a shadow of “Where’s the Whitney tribute?” over much of what preceded it. Nevertheless, the decidedly backloaded telecast had some memorable musical moments, and here’s our countdown of the Top 5 (neither of which include Chris Brown’s two dubious appearances) along with the list of major winners:

5 – tie) Bruno Mars performs “Runaway Baby” | “Get off your rich asses,” Bruno commanded the Grammy crowd during his wickedly energetic set. And while those fuddy-duddys didn’t really heed his call, I suspect there were plenty of viewers at home doing some enthusiastic couch dancing. And for that, we give thanks.

5 – tie) Taylor Swift performs “Mean” | Not sure about the set and costumes pilfered from a storage closet marked O Brother, Where Art Thou, but I don’t think Taylor’s ever sounded better live, and that little zinger toward the end — “some day I’ll be singin’ this at the Grammys/ and all you’re ever gonna be is mean” — was apt to the max.

4) The Civil Wars peform a snippet of “Barton Hollow” | “It’s not about what goes on in a computer, it’s about what goes on in here and here,” said Dave Grohl, pointing to his heart and his head,  while collecting the Foo Fighters’ statuette for Best Rock Performance. And no other act drove home that point better than the Civil Wars, who got 60 seconds to make a musical impression before introducing their pal Taylor Swift. Here’s hoping the awesome simplicity of their swampy good sound results in a huge sales surge come Monday morning.

3) Glen Campbell performs with The Band Perry and Blake Shelton | On a night featuring a sweet Beach Boys reunion (with Maroon 5 and Foster the People), and two performances by Sir Paul McCartney (I vastly preferred the second one), it was an homage to the country star — who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year — that proved most musically satisfying. The Band Perry’s “Gentle on My Mind” was as welcome as a summer breeze, Shelton captured the wistful drawl of “Southern Nights,” and Cambell himself remained in incredibly fine voice on “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

2) Adele performs “Rolling in the Deep” What’s better than hearing Grammy’s Song of the Year and Record of the Year performed by a vocalist whose only “gimmicks” are astonishing soul and emotional depth? Not much! Bonus points for Adele’s cheeky “You could have had this all” with an accompanying “boy look at this body” hand gesture. The explosive reaction of the Grammy audience said it all.

1) Jennifer Hudson peforms “I Will Always Love You” | It was no small task to celebrate Houston’s colossal voice while simultaneously filling the emotional void created by the troubled diva’s passing at the age of 48. But with an awe-inspiring a capella intro and pitch perfection right to the very last note, a clearly emotional J.Hud did exactly that.

21221222396 by YardieGoals

Major Winners
Album of the Year, 21, Adele
Record of the Year 
“Rolling In The Deep,” Adele
Song of the Year 
“Rolling In the Deep,” Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth, songwriters (Adele)
Best Rock Album
 Wasting Light, Foo Fighters
Best Rap Album, 
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West
Best R&B Album, F.A.M.E. Chris Brown
Best Country Album, 
Own The Night, Lady Antebellum
Best Pop Vocal Album
 21, Adele
Best New Artist, Bon Iver

What did you think of the 2012 Grammys? What were your favorite moments? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jerred says:

    What about these artists being completely snubbed by the Grammys?
    *Mike Starr (of ’90s rockers Alice In Chains)
    *Gerry Rafferty (of Stealer’s Wheel and solo artist)
    *Mike Starr (of ’90s rockers Alice In Chains)
    *Poly Styrene (of punk legends X-Ray Spex)
    *Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes
    *Andrea True (‘70s disco singer and actress)
    *John Barry (British soundtrack composers and jazz musician)
    *Wild Man Fischer (cult songwriter)
    *Mikey Welsh (former basisst of Weezer)
    *Dan Peek (of pop group America)
    *John Walker (of ‘60s group the Walker Brothers)
    *Sean Bonniwell (of ‘60s rockers the Music Machine)
    *Rob Grill (of ‘60s group the Grass Roots)

  2. Kenn Koncicki says:

    1.Beach Boys Reunion
    2. Bruce Springsteen’s opening number
    3. Paul McCartney’s closing
    4. Paul McCartney’ Valentine
    5. Glen Campbell
    That’s All Folks!

  3. kt says:

    Yes! You included the Civil Wars…Slezak knows what’s up! I was a little sad they only got 60 seconds, but they definitely made the most of it!
    That being said, J. Hud and Adele are definitely moments #1 & #2. Just lovely…both of them.

  4. NanCeE* says:

    I think my favorite moment was when the Foo Fighters accepted an award after Chris Brown’s performance, and the drummer did a little slide step ala Chris Brown when he came on stage (then Grohl said the “head and heart” stuff) – cracked me up. Bruno Mars was fantastic – I think he’d meet the Foo Fighters’ criteria. I thought The Band Perry should have won Best New Artist. I thought most of the numbers were kind of boring – taken straight from the tour, nothing new. Nicki Minaj was original, but unfortunately was also unintentionally hilarious (that performance was so baaaaad). Adele and McCartney gave the performances of the night, along with J-Hud’s stunning tribute to Whitney. I thought LL handled hosting well.

  5. jenna says:

    I pretty much agree with your list. It was a good show, and a great year for music! I think Adele has helped the music industry tremendously. I wonder how many ‘new’ listeners found itunes because of her album? Singers who can appeal to a crossover audience will do that, and she deserved all her awards last night. It was gratifying to see her win.
    I did expect the Whitney tribute to be earlier in the show, but I’m sure last minute changes are hard to pull off in a live show. Either way, it was a great performance by Jennifer.
    Adele was awesome, and honestly refreshing.
    Loved The Band Perry and ‘Gentle on My Mind’.
    Loved the Civil Wars and Taylor’s ‘Mean’.
    Enjoyed Foo Fighters and Bruno Mars.
    I’ll always be a huge Beatles fan, but Paul’s solo performances always fall flat for me. Sorry. One of the greatest groups of all time, but individually, not so much.
    Great show! I think it’s the first time I actually watched the whole thing.

  6. EveatEden says:

    Just one question. Who the heck is Bon Iver???? Ugh.

  7. blingedup.susan says:

    I agree with your Top 5, and while I thoroughly enjoyed those 5 moments, they were head and shoulders above any other entertainment of the night.
    JHud was amazing. Taylor Swift was darling. Glen Campbell was touching and entertaining.
    Some of the other performers were seriously lacking, (Nicki Minaj, what the hell was that?) but these that you listed were fabulous.

  8. The WB Frog says:

    Jennifer Hudson is talented, but she doesn’t have the range that Adele (and Whitney Houston) has (had). Adele, followed by Glen Campbell (whose voice was velvety smooth and entertaining) and Taylor Swift were much more entertaining and thoughtful than Jennifer Hudson’s tribute. Pleased that LL Cool J delivered the powerful prayer.

  9. Linda says:

    Most of you will probably not agree with me on this but Whitney had such talent and she threw it all away to become a complete train wreck! Why should people expect more of a tribute than she got?? I loved Whitney and yes, I’m sad she’s gone, but honestly she didn’t deserve any more of a tribute than that. I have no sympathy for people who have a ton of talent and throw it away for drugs & booze!

  10. lorib says:

    most boring show ever – everybody looked mad – like nothing was going right behind stage.

  11. intelliwoman says:

    WHY is Taylor Swift even on this list. She’s an auto tune whore, a poor singer with a minimum range whose productions far outweigh the value of her singing. Both Adel (who should have been #1) and JHudson are far and above, although if you like entertainment and don’t care about talent……

    • Andre says:

      Not a Swift fan at all but if you saw her performance last night, she did sound good and actually proved she can at least hold a note. I was pleasantly surprised and happy for her that she has improved a lot.

    • Jane says:

      Not trying to defend Taylor’s voice, but she at least sings live. I’d rather hear someone hit a few sour notes to a song they wrote than do a crappy job lip syncing to a terrible pop song like Rhianna or her abusive ex Chris Brown did.

  12. Andre says:

    I’m not a big Hudson fan but I have to give her kudos. She did the song justice and on some notes even sounded like Whitney. It was classy and it must not have been easy staying on pitch and on key when you’re holding back tears. The loud exhales she had on two occasions proved that she was trying not to break down. But what really sealed the deal for me was the fact that she did a courteous bow, blew a kiss and walked away. She let that moment be about Whitney, not herself and the tribute she was asked to give.

  13. derek says:

    i’m so glad they chose jennifer hudson b/c you know that she has genuine respect and admiration for whitney – she chose “You Believe In You and Me” in her wildcard round and sang one of idol’s best “I Have Nothing” (off an extensive list). thats why i found her performance to be especially believable and not just forced.

  14. jaycee says:

    Jennifer Hudson is a class act!! Her tribute performance was absolutely beautiful.

  15. Jane says:

    I was trying to watch Downton Abbey and the Grammys at the same time (don’t have DVR). I know Whitney’s death overshadowed much, but did they remember Amy Whinehouse, or has it been too long since she died? I saw her parents in the audience. Was there any tribute?

  16. sabrina says:

    how come foo fighters isn’t on this?

  17. TJ. Church says:

    Neither Jennifer nor Taylor belonged that high on the list, & Bruno didn’t even belong on the show! (That performance was a reason to never pay for music again!)

  18. Amy says:

    I am so glad people are appreciating the talent and wonderfulness of The Civil Wars. I wish they had more time, but considering this is the Grammys I am happy they had any time at all.

  19. syb says:

    I would have added the Bonnie Raitt/Alicia Keyes duet to a list of favorite moments last night, but I would also include all of those MS mentioned in his top 5/6.
    I ordinarily dislike the Grammys, but this was a fine show. And for a Taylor Swift hater like me to include her on a highlight moment list is a little crow sauteed with fava beans for me. Well done TS, well done.
    What a relief to hear Adele sound as good as ever.
    Nice work Jennifer and amazingly short notice. This pop/jazzless, bluesless, soulless, diva ballad thing is not my favorite style of music, but JH really hit it right with the understated emotion and almost reverential delivery.