Tanner Stransky
December 01, 2011 AT 07:52 AM EST

Just before the Grammy Nominations Concert hit the airwaves on CBS last night, the show’s executive producer Ken Ehrlich appeared on stage and made quite the proclamation to those of us fortunate enough to be seated in the live studio audience: “This is a mini Grammys show,” he said. And if that was the goal, then: success! Performances! Presenters! Thank you, lucky stars, that “mini” also is code for: No speeches or exhausting monologues!

The show — which is designed to announce the year’s Grammy nominations but functions mostly as an hour-long concert — was indeed a “mini Grammys,” in that way that the Grammys has always managed to provide a mixture of performances that run the gamut from shocking…to boring. In that spirit of good and bad — and since I was there in the audience — I thought it only appropriate to provide a look at the live show in terms of best and worsts. Here goes:

Best In-Theater Crowd Pleaser: Lady Gaga

The crowd seemed a bit down — and, truly, the theater, oddly, a tad empty — so having Gaga launch the show was the best medicine: Her smoky, sultry rendition of “Marry the Night” instantly brought everyone to their feet. And believe me, the crowd was not enthused for some of what this oft-dry show had to offer, like when Rihanna’s performance of “We Found Love” in London was flashed onto the screen. That was a real mood killer. Gaga, in fact, got the crowd amped up several times — including during her “You and I” duet with Sugarland. The only response to that collaboration was: Wow, that worked. And whether you believe me or not, the most screams were for her name when it was announced that Born This Way had been nominated for Album of the Year toward the end of the show. Love her or hate her — and love or hate her last album — she’s still the biggest artist around right now.

Best Out-of-Theater Crowd Pleaser: Adele

Truly, it felt a bit weird for her to not be there. (She’s still recovering from her vocal-chord surgery in early November.) Adele was nominated in three of the four Grammy categories announced last night: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year. And she was mentioned during the fourth category, Best New Artist, because she won it back in 2009. And each time her name was mentioned: screams! Lots of them! Fawning! Ecstasy! I stopped by the press room after the show, and every time any artist — nominee or performer — was asked about who their current favorite artist was, it became almost like a broken record because it was always, always, always: Adele.

Best Presenter: Nicki Minaj

When is it not a pleasure to see her on stage? She lit up the room, with her pink hair and sly smirk on her face. The crowd seemed super excited to see her. It would have been nice to see her perform, too.

NEXT PAGE: Worst presenter, worst performance, best surprise, and more…

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