From Nicki's up-in-the-air antics to Chris's comeback, whose performance was Grammy worthy?

By Alison Schwartz
Updated February 13, 2012 08:00 AM
Credit: John Shearer/WireImage

It was the ultimate concert.

Grammy-watchers enjoyed a front row-seat view as the music industry’s biggest voices celebrated music’s biggest night Sunday on the stage of Los Angeles’s Staples Center.

And while Adele, the night’s top honoree, wowed with a perfect-pitch performance of her award-winning anthem “Rolling in the Deep,” and Katy Perry brought the fire with her new tune – not to mention Jennifer Hudson‘s heartfelt tribute to the late Whitney Houston – several other show-stopping moments took place throughout the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.

For those who might have missed them, breaks down the night’s most memorable performances.

• News that Chris Brown was making his way back to the Grammy stage – three years after his domestic violence drama with Rihanna first made headlines – earned mixed reviews. But Brown, who went home Sunday with a win for best R&B album, focused on the music – and his dance moves – with an energetic performance of “Turn Up the Music” and “Beautiful People” atop a stage stacked with color-changing blocks (all of which he climbed).

• Reunited – and it sounds so good. The Beach Boys’s surviving members, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks, took the stage for their first public performance in more than two decades to mark the group’s 50th anniversary. Joining the original boy band: Maroon 5 and Foster the People, who sang “Surfer Girl” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” respectively, before the Beach Boys launched into their surf classic, “Good Vibrations.”

• Even country’s good girl can be downright mean – like the title of her song. Taylor Swift, who scooped up two Grammys for best country solo performance and song, delivered the breakup ballad in her signature sweet Southern style.

• Yet another reason for audience members to get on their feet: Electronic music megastars David Guetta and Deadmau5, teaming up with Brown, the Foo Fighters and Lil’ Wayne turned the stage into a rave – complete with neon glow-stick versions of Deadmau5’s signature mouse ears – to perform Guetta, Wayne and Brown’s “I Can Only Imagine,” Foo Fighter’s “Rope” and Deadmau5’s “Raise Your Weapon.”

As usual, music and religion proved to be a match made in heaven as Nicki Minaj played the sinner in a performance she called “The Exorcism of Roman” to the tune of her latest single, “Roman Holiday.” Joined by her priestly wing man, she capped off the performance on a high note by levitating via rope above her backup dancers.