Also: Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, The Beach Boys
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Best: Taylor Swift (and Civil Wars)
The Civil Wars introduced Taylor Swift after a minute-long mini-performance, which could have been a disaster, given that Swift live performances at shows like this are sometimes a mixed bag. In this case, with a fantastic ramshackle, Southern Gothic meets Country Bears Jamboree set and a game backing ensemble, Swift gave a spirited and likable rendition of "Mean." It was so musical, jaunty and flavorful that Swift's occasional vocal limitations were lost entirely. Swift's surprise at the standing ovation from the crowd felt much more genuine than her standard "I can't believe I won another award" shock.
- Dan Fienberg