LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Rapper Nicki Minaj arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
From Jen Chaney at The Washington Post:
"Nicki Minaj is performing 'Roman Holiday' on the Grammy stage, a number that includes the aforementioned Pope impersonator and an apparent exorcism. So I am now both less confused, as well as more..."
Update: Wall Street Journal video:
Update from Kyle Anderson at Entertainment Weekly:
Nicki Minaj levitates, lights fires, speaks in tongues for Grammys performance of new single 'Roman Holiday'
When the performance slate for the Grammy Awards came out, it was a little bit surprising that Lady Gaga was not included on the list. Who would pick up the over-the-top theatrical slack with Mother Monster sitting on the sidelines?
Nicki Minaj was happy to fill in. In the evening’s most complicated and elaborate performance, she began on stage with “The Pope” (really just a weird old man from central casting who walked the red carpet with her), and began “confessing” the lyrics to her new single “Roman Holiday.”
Things only got weirder, as the show cut to a pre-taped segment that featured the same holy-man character showing up at a house for an exorcism. Who needed a demon purged? Minaj herself, who haphazardly put on lipstick and sang the lyrics to “I Feel Pretty” to herself as she climbed up the wall.
Eventually, the action cut back to the Staples Center stage, featuring lots of stained glass and a small army of monks. Minaj was strapped to a Frankenstein-esque lab table, eventually set free to rap through the remainder of the song.
In short, it was a mess, featuring a whole lot of religious imagery, a smattering of pyro, and no real messages to be found. The one great moment was when Minaj levitated in what might have been an homage to The Craft.
It was certainly the night’s most bombastic stage production, but it’s unclear exactly how we’re supposed to feel about Nicki Minaj (or her alter ego Roman Zolanski) once it ended...
Update: From PinkBell at Free Republic:
Nicki Minaj Mocks Catholic Church In Grammy Performance
Nicki Minaj showed up to the Grammy's dressed in a Little Red Riding Hoodesque outfit with a man dressed as the Pope by her side:
This outfit later made sense upon seeing Minaj's performance.
Host LL Cool J said that the performance would be one that would be talked about. I wondered what kind of performance would be so great. Merely expecting just good singing, dancing, and stage affects was too naive of me. Minaj decided to go for shock value. The favorite way for the Hollywood set to do this is to mock religion - namely Christianity.
In the performance, Nicki is Roman her alter ego. Researching, I found this:
This is bulls*t Roman, who is Nicki Minaj's alter-ego, was born out of rage and became quickly a frequently used ego by Minaj.
Roman Zolanski is a very agressive, rebellious, and angry young man. He is always honest about how he feels about something or someone and will always speak out in a rude manner against it. On the other hand, let's say that his heart pumps out rage into his veins. Nicki Minaj has said that Roman is her ego who doesn't have a **** to give. He will often speak his mind,making it clearly obvious who he speaking of without giving out names. He grew up without a father, and was very active in Church when he was younger and aspired to be an Actor. Roman Zolanski is a male, but many people think of the alter-ego as Nicki's twin-sister, because Nicki stated that Roman is like a twin to her. Though, the truth is that Roman is Nicki's twin-brother, and Roman represents always the more rude and angry side of Nicki.
Roman, who is a male, is homosexual. This is very important to notice, because Roman as well as Nicki always seems to get enraged by homophobes frequently.
Roman, got born out of Nicki's rage towards the people who are ignorant and plain hateful, and Nicki, who is very respectful to the gay community, states that Roman is indeed a homosexual male, who always seem to defend her (Nicki) and himself from the bad people out there, who try to bring them both down.
Multiple personality disorder, anyone?
Returning to the performance, it begins with Minaj as Roman in a confessional. She begins babbling incoherently and singning, "I'm So Pretty" in a shrill, evil sounding voice. The priest is seen on the other side covering his ears and pleading with her to stop.
A video then begins to play on a screen in the theater showing an elderly lady opening the door to a home. A priest enters and asks where he is. She says he is upstairs and sick. The video then shows Minaj upstairs singing "I'm So Pretty" and maniacally putting on lipstick. The priest ascends the stairs and enters the room Minaj is in. She tells him that he doesn't belong there. He asks her her name. She screeches "Roman!" before zooming to the ceiling.
Now the actual performace begins. Minaj is chained to a board in a set which is clearly designed to be a Catholic Church. Men dressed as priests or monks are dancing around her. She sings, "Take your medication, Roman. Take a short vacation, Roman. You'll be ok." She then breaks free of the chains. The monks/priests dance around her in a sexual manner, some taking off the top part of their clothes. At one point I see someone in a bondage like suit simulating sex with a monk/priest on the podium. Two people come on stage in nude body suits and writhe around. A choir then begins to sing the Christmas song "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful". The priest comes out during this and attempts to perform an exorcism. He fails and falls over as Minaj "levitates" into the air rapping crazily. The demon in Roman is apparently too strong to be exocised by the priest.
I watched this in shock. By the time they started singing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", my mouth was literally hanging open. It stayed there until after the performance ended. If Minaj was trying to shock, she most certainly suceeded. Did she do something new in attacking the Church? No. Lady Gaga has done it before in vile music videos, one where she dresses as a nun, pretends to swallow a rosary, and has gay men simulate sex around her. Vile as it was, her videos weren't shown on primetime television on a major network. Minaj reached a large platform of the American public and the public in other countries watching the Grammy's. The performace, complete with fire and smoke, came off as a satanic ritual and complete mockery of the Catholic Church.
Reading comments afterwards on sites like Youtube and Twitter, one can find a bit of solace in the fact that a lot of people were disturbed and pointed out the performance for what it was. Don't mistake me, though, I found people defending the performance. Whether they didn't understand it or understood and didn't care is another matter, the latter being more disturbing. The other thing that is sad is that the producers of the Grammy's and a major network approved said performance, obviously okay with the derision of the Catholic Church.
We are living in an age where it is becoming more and more acceptable to ridicule Christians. Those who hate Christianity are becoming more and more emboldened, and it is further revealed when a performance like this is shown on primetime network television.