Grammy Awards 2012: The Best Performances of the Night

From Katy Perry's girl-power anthem to Jennifer Hudson's Whitney Houston tribute, these musicians had us cheering

Sunday night's Grammy Awards truly were a celebration of music. The lengthy show (three-and-a-half hours -- and that's not including the pre-televised portion) took plenty of time to honor both its nominees and the recently deceased members of the music community, especially Whitney Houston (who passed away Saturday). Here's a rundown of the night's top performances.

Bruce Springsteen: Little did producers realize how appropriate The Boss' opening number would be. Springsteen and the E Street Band performed their new single, "We Take Care of Our Own," with the help of an orchestra, and it was hard not to be moved by the song's titular sentiment, which was echoed by host LL Cool J moments later. "There is no way around this. We've had a death in our family," he said. "And so at least for me, for me, the only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer for a woman we loved -- for our fallen sister, Whitney Houston."

Stars from Katy Perry to Blake Shelton bowed their heads in participation.

Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt: When the duo took to the stage to pay tribute to another dearly departed R&B singer Etta James, they also made sure to honor Houston. "We love Whitney Houston," Keys said before she started playing the piano. She and Raitt went on to perform "A Sunday Kind of Love," one of James' classics.

Rihanna: The sexy singer took to the stage for a fiery performance of her No. 1 hit "We Found Love." She and her troupe of backup dancers tapped into the mood of the night by asking the audience, "With me, for Whitney!" Then she and Chris Martin of Coldplay united on a duet of their new single "Princess of China," after which Coldplay went solo and performed their own single "Paradise."

The Beach Boys: In honor of their 50th anniversay, the original goup reunited at the Grammys for their first live performance in more than 20 years. Maroon 5 "opened" for the Boys with a rendition of "Surfer Girl" and Foster the People followed that with a charming take on "Wouldn't It Be Nice." But of course neither band could compare to the moment we'd all been waiting for when the Beach Boys took to the stage and performed their classic "Good Vibrations."

Paul McCartney: The former Beatle performed his appropriately titled single "My Valentine." Stevie Wonder introduced him, making sure to include a mention of Houston. "I just want to say to Whitney up in heaven, we all love you Whitney," he said.

Taylor Swift: Proving that her ridiculed 2010 performance with Stevie Nicks was just a fluke, a banjo-playing Swift took to the stage for a very country -- and very good -- performance of her Grammy-winning hit "Mean." Fortunately there were no cutaways to John Mayer to be seen.

Katy Perry: After being introduced as potentially the only woman who has successfully shot fireworks out of her breasts, the recently single singer opened her act with a shortened version of "E.T." The song ended in a faux mechanical malfunction, and when the lights came back up Perry launched into the debut of her new single "Part of Me." With lyrics like "Keep your diamond ring/In fact, you can keep everything... except for me," it's hard not to imagine Russell Brand sitting at home imagining she was singing that one just for him.

Adele: The Brit siren is back, baby -- and better than ever! In her first performance since her recent vocal surgery, Sunday night's big winner (she won six Grammys including album, song and record of the year) sent the crowd into a hand-clapping frenzy with "Rolling in the Deep." Paul McCartney's fist pump to the sky after Adele's set wrapped pretty much summarized how we felt.

Jennifer Hudson: Even with Adele's big comeback and the Beach Boys reunion, it was J-Hud's Whitney Houston tribute that offered up the most moving moment of the night. With Houston's picture hovering on the screen behind her, Hudson belted out a heartbreaking rendition of Whitney's mega-hit "I Will Always Love You" -- and we genuinely think Houston would have been proud.

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