Whitney Houston’s presence was felt — and inevitably haunted — the entire evening during the 54th Grammy Awards. Adele was the big winner after snagging all six awards she was up for, and Foo Fighters were right behind her with five statues of their own. But despite the glory and the flashy performances, there was an air of sadness that dominated, given Houston’s tragic death at age 48 on Saturday. We rounded up the critics’ thoughts on the ceremony below. See if they match your own.
:: Entertainment Weekly was floored by Adele’s first performance since her vocal surgery: “Up until the untimely passing of Whitney Houston on Saturday night, the biggest narrative going into Sunday night’s Grammy Awards was the return of Adele. What would she sing? How would she sound? And would her night end triumphantly with a clean awards sweep? She certainly answered 66% of those questions when she walked onto the stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and knocked ‘Rolling in the Deep’ out of the ballpark.”
:: Spinner felt that the ghost of Whitney overshadowed Adele’s big night: “Emotion was the through line for this year’s Grammys. But though it began in abject sadness over Houston’s passing, it ended in tears of joy with Adele’s sweep (as deserved an award run as any ever). If there’s one positive thing about death, it’s that it makes us appreciate life — and the loss of one legend helped remind of us what we still had with Adele, whose own was cemented one tragic yet glorious Sunday night.”
:: Given Adele’s major sweep, NPR joked, “It was nice of everybody else to show up.”
:: E! Online sifted through the night’s best and worst moments: “Speaking of the Big Man, host LL Cool J did something unusual for someone not winning a Grammy: He invoked God with a thoughtful prayer in honor of Whitney Houston. It was a genuine moment, both heartfelt and unexpected.”
:: Vanity Fair praised Jennifer Hudson’s tribute to Houston: “Whitney Houston, who died on Saturday of unknown causes at the age of 48, was the subject of speeches, tribute performances, and prayers. Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson, wearing black and standing beneath a spotlight on a pitch-black stage, covered Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You.’ Hudson appeared visibly shaken; the audience, though you can’t see them, almost certainly appeared the same.”
:: The Boston Globe preached the following about Nicki Minaj’s performance: “With Lady Gaga firmly out of the picture (and rarely ever seen on camera in the audience), Minaj christened herself pop’s new weirdo. Her elaborate multimedia performance, rooted in an exorcism scenario, was brash, jolting, and downright bizarre.”
:: The New York Times quipped the following: “Totally thrilled to see Nicki fully entering her eccentric phase, with a path paved by Madonna and Gaga and Grace Jones and the DSM IV.”
:: The Christian Science Monitor had this bit of wisdom to share: “Adele won six awards at Sunday’s Grammys. But Adel [sic] should have lost to Bruno Mars, according to a computer algorithm that predicts which songs will be hits and which will be flops.”
:: We’ll end on the Los Angeles Times‘ summation of the night: “The 54th Grammy Awards will be remembered as a story of two women with towering, timeless voices — Adele and Whitney Houston — one representing youthful triumph and boundless possibility, the other a reminder of fresh tragedy and a life unraveled.”
Enough of the critics! What did you think of the Grammy Awards this year — especially in the wake of Whitney Houston’s death? Let us know your thoughts below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter.