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The Grammys give out 109 awards _ but most of those are doled out before the live telecast in a ceremony before the CBS show. Instead of focusing on the awards, the Grammy show emphasized performances with extravagant showcases to the that featured the year’s most celebrated artists, along with emerging acts and true legends.

Lady Gaga entered the Staples Center, where the Grammys were held, in dramatic fashion, encased in an egg as dancers carried her to the stage. When she “hatched,” she seemed to have turned into Madonna, circa 1987, as she sashayed across the stage to her new song “Born This Way.”

But the singer, normally the most outrageous performer on any bill, was out-Gaga’d by Cee Lo Green, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jim Henson Co.’s puppets, who gave a hilarious performance of “Forget You” that would have done Elton John proud.

Decked out in feathers of seemingly every hue, Green _ who was nominated for record and song of the year for the dirty version of the song, “(Expletive) You,” crooned alongside a sassy gaggle of puppets and Paltrow, who performed “Forget You” on the Fox TV show “Glee.” The actress, who recently played a singer in the movie “Country Song” and is slated to sing on the Oscars telecast, perhaps should seriously consider joining hubby Chris Martin of Coldplay as a regular recording artist.

It was easily the show stopper in a night of performances that included a tribute to Aretha Franklin, a retro performance from Bruno Mars, a dazzling number by newcomer Janelle Monae that was James Brown-esque, a collaboration with Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers and a very raspy Bob Dylan.

Eminem still had a chance to win the top awards of the evening, including the elusive (for him) album of the year category. But the gifted and twisted rapper might get tripped up by some fierce competition, including a song that rivals him for coarseness _ Green’s “(Expletive) You,” which is in competition with Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie,” featuring Rihanna, in the record and song of the year categories.

Eminem’s “Recovery” was 2010’s best-selling album and a favorite to win in the album category. It marked a major comeback for the rapper, considered one of the greatest but who had been addled by a prescription drug addiction and critical malaise in recent years. It is the third time he’s been nominated for album of the year; he’s lost twice before.

But he also faces tough competition in the category, from the likes of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” and Lady Gaga’s “The Fame Monster.” Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” are also nominated.

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Online:

http://www.grammy.com