GRAMMY REVIEWS: What the Critics Thought

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THR's Tim Goodman calls the show "torture to watch," while the L.A. Times says the three-and-a-half-hour broadcast was "brazenly creative."

What did the critics think of the 2011 Grammy Awards, which aired Sunday night on CBS?

The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman (read his Bastard Machine blog) didn't mince words, calling the three-and-a-half-hour awards show "torture to watch."

"The show was frequently off-kilter and badly paced, topped off by annoying voice overs completely random presenters, including the obligatory slew of CBS stars," he  wrote. But he did call Gwyneth Paltrow and Cee-Lo Green's duet (with The Muppets) "adorable" and was pleasantly surprised by Esperanza Spalding's best new artist win.

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"The most welcome shock in all of music was easily Esperanza Spalding, the lovely and waif-like jazz singer who upset the Bieber blob to take best new artist and keep the camera off of his stupid kid-combover hair," Goodman wrote.

The Boston Herald's Mark A. Perigard summed up the show as so: "Muppets, ninjas and a giant egg that went splat." (Lady Gaga arrived encased in a giant egg, which she hatched from before singing "Born This Way" and Justin Bieber performed with ninjas.)

"By night’s end, it was obvious the awards didn’t matter, only the iTunes downloads that would follow today," added Perigard.

The New York Times' Jon Pareles said the Grammy "telecast scrambled to pull together the genres and generations — sometimes harmoniously, sometimes in collision."

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"The Grammys know they’re not the MTV Video Music Awards; they don’t want to alienate people over 30. Or over 50," he added, pointing out performances by Bob Dylan and Barbra Streisand. (He was a fan of Mick Jagger, who had "no choreography — just a rock star jumping around. Some of the youngsters could take some tips.")

The Los Angeles Times' Ann Powers called the show "brazenly creative."

"Time and time again during the three-hour telecast, the newer talents moving pop forward showed their willingness to take risks and seize the chance to distinguish themselves from what's come before, even as they paid conscientious respect to the older stars who devised the language they're now rewriting," she wrote.