Grammys 2011: Best Performances, From Bob Dylan to Eminem

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The Grammys, as expected, were remarkable not for who won awards. As usual, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States rewarded blandness (Lady Antebellum and Esperanza Spalding, who won for Best Record and Best New Artist, respectively) over excitement (Jay-Z and Mumford and Sons, who lost for Best Record and Best New Artist, respectively). At least the Arcade Fire beat Katy Perry for Album of the Year.

Disappointing though the awards themselves were, the musical performances from acts like Bob Dylan, Eminem, and Cee Lo made the telecast worth watching. Here, a selection of the best:

Mumford and Sons, the Avett Brothers, and Bob Dylan
Two up-and-coming folk rock acts performed a set with one of the genre's most legendary singers. Sure, Dylan's voice is even scratchier and raspier than it once was, but the banjo-heavy back-up music to his rendition of "Maggie's Farm" showed that his songs can still sound fresh and new, even decades after they were first released:



Rihanna, Eminem, Skylar Grey, and Dr Dre
Rihanna and Eminem performed their controversial 2010 hit, "Love the Way You Lie," and then led into "I Need a Doctor," which Grey and Dre contributed to as well. This set was particularly poignant because it was Dre's first televised performance in a decade, an apparent show of support for his protege Eminem's comeback effort:



Cee Lo, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the Jim Henson Company Puppets
But as expected, the most wonderful, bizarre performance of the night was Gwyneth Paltrow, Cee Lo's collaboration with Jim Henson's Puppets. It was pure silliness, from Cee Lo's psychedelic peacock costume to the Motown-inspired puppet backup singers. If only Gwyneth had been a bit more daring with her wardrobe choice—her only nod to Muppet style was her bright pink feathery earrings:

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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