The Grammys: Top 7 Moments to Watch

PHOTO: Singer Chris Brown performs onstage at the 2011 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE November 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, Calif.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Singer Chris Brown performs onstage at the 2011 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE November 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, Calif.

On music's biggest night of the year, a lot's going to go down.

"People bring their A-game to the Grammys," said Yahoo! music critic Paul Grein. "It's the best people in the business, and you want to stand out. People's minds can only absorb so many performances -- there will only be one or two or three highlights in the collective memory, the rest become a blur."

From Adele's pretty much certain sweep to Chris Brown's return, check out the top seven moments to watch for on Sunday:

Adele Returns

Sunday will be the "Someone Like You" singer's first performance since vocal chord surgery sidelined her world tour. She talks about it for the first time in a "60 Minutes" interview with Anderson Cooper airing before the Grammys, saying that a mandatory vocal rest required her to communicate with pen and paper for nearly two months. She also used some cell phone apps, one of which let her swear.

"The great thing is I love to swear," she tells Cooper. "Most of [the apps] you can't swear on, but I found this one app where you can swear, so I'm still really getting my point across."

READ MORE: Who'll Go Home with a Grammy?

Back to that performance -- Yahoo! music critic Paul Grein predicted it would be "understated and underproduced." "There won't be any flash or any attempt to make it theatrical," he said. "And yet it will probably steal the show."

Then there's the trophies. If Adele doesn't go home with at least four of the awards she's up for -- album, record and song of the year -- it'll be a huge upset. "She will probably win everything she's nominated for, six awards, which will tie the Grammys record for female artist and British artist," said Tye Comer, editor of

Chris Brown's Comeback

It's been three years since Brown infamously beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna and plummeted in popularity. On Sunday, he'll return to the show that preceded his assault. "I wouldn't have bet on this three years ago," Grein said. "His career seemed in deep trouble. Now he's back on the Grammy stage performing, and I think he'll possibly also win for best R&B album. He's certainly the front-runner."

Brown pulled out all the stops when he performed at MTV's Video Music Awards in August, levitating above the crowd like some kind of God. Expect similar theatrics on Sunday. And hopefully, none of the insanity that happened after the 2009 awards. "If I were Chris Brown, I would just try to get through the show, have a great performance, win a Grammy, go home and breathe deeply," Grein said.

And Rihanna's in the House Too

The Grammys will be the first time Rihanna and Brown perform at the same event since the 2009 assault and their falling out. Neither is likely to refer to the irony. "I think that they're going to be civil," said Comer. "I'm not imagining that any sparks will fly. People are definitely going to be looking to see what their interaction is like, if at all."

An Ode to Electronica

For the first time ever, the Grammys will spotlight on dance and electronic music in a genre-bending performance by Lil Wayne, deadmau5, Foo Fighters, Chris Brown and David Guetta. Then there's Skrillex -- you may not know his name now, but if this up-and-coming electronic DJ wins best new artist of the year, you're going to be hearing a lot more of him. His hit "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" has been viewed more than 62 million times on YouTube.

"There is much more attention on electronic music this year," Comer said. "Skrillex leads the way. He gets a lot of attention for not just having four nominations but for also being nominated for best new artist. It's the first time that a purely electronic music producer has been nominated in that category."

Rock and Roll Greats

It's not often you see a former Beatle jamming on the same stage as Lil Wayne. But at the Grammys, anything goes. "Paul McCartney is perhaps the biggest living legend in rock music right now," Comer said. "It's a coup that they got him."

Also performing: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and the Beach Boys, who are teaming up with Foster the People and Maroon 5 for a mash-up of old and new hits.

"It'll be interesting to see them try to play to all audiences," Grein said. "You've got veterans from back in the day playing inches away from groups that are current and hot right now."

Potential Outbursts

Kanye West is nominated for seven awards. He may not win them all. Rut-roh. The rapper has had some infamous backstage blowups at award shows (and let's not forget his mic-snatch at the 2009 MTV VMAs) but this year might be different. "He's already said that he shot himself in the foot by releasing two records this year -- 'My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy' and 'Watch the Throne' with Jay-Z," Comer said. Both are nominated for rap album of the year, which means he might end up splitting the votes.

Grein noted, though, that after "M.I.A.'s little moment at the Super Bowl, yes, I think you have to expect an outburst from someone. You get attention that way."


The Grammys wouldn't be complete if Lady Gaga didn't arrive in an egg or wear a meat dress or do something similarly outrageous. She's nominated for album of the year, but her attendance isn't guaranteed. "She's getting ready for a big world tour that was just announced Wednesday," Comer said. "She might show up, or she might want to save her energy. If she does make it, I'm sure there'll be a surprise." A shell fish corset, perhaps?