The 2011 Grammy Awards: Why We Watch

This year's Grammy Awards are all about the quest to regain R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Sorry, nominees, but you are all taking a backseat to the planned Aretha Franklin tribute - because it'll mark the first performance by Christina Aguilera since she reamed the twilight out of our National Anthem during Super Bowl XLV.

But then again, isn't that what we watch the Grammys for anyway? Screw-ups, blow-ups, and dust-ups? We sure as hell don't care who wins, do we?

This can be at least partly blamed on the convoluted categories (what is the difference between Record of the Year and Album of the Year anyway?) and partially on the fact that the Grammys have always been about quantity over quality. One Oscar is a hefty win. But one Grammy? You may as well just use that to tip the valet. It's all about multiple nominations and multiple wins here, folks.

Eminem's comeback is officially complete, as the rapper leads the way with a whopping 10 nominations (including Song and Record of the Year). Performer/producer Bruno Mars makes a stunning debut (his solo album only dropped this past October) racking up 7 nominations, while Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and country stars Lady Antebellum have 6 apiece.

That's not to say the Grammys is without its own unique charms, however. A scorching live performance can do wonders for a career. Just ask Mary J. Blige, whose blistering "No More Drama" in 2002 took her from R&B star to A-list superstar. This year's list of performers definitely has explosive potential, with Eminem, Arcade Fire, Cee Lo Green (get that "bleep" button ready), Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga. Not to mention Ms. Aguilera.

And, of course, there's the incomparable red carpet fashions.

This year's awards promise to be full of drama - you can't have Perry and Gaga in the same space and not expect an explosion of meat dresses and whipped cream-launching bras - even if it seems a bit heavy on tributes and lifetime achievement awards (Bob Dylan leading a tribute to acoustic music? Wow, thanks for the snack break heads up). Still, Mick Jagger's first ever live Grammy stage performance and a song from Barbra Steisand? That's like catching Bigfoot riding on the Loch Ness Monster, so you'll probably want to catch them. 

Now let's just hope Christina's teleprompter holds up.

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