In what will go down as the most blasphemous use of Il Papa's image by a controversy-courting pop siren since Sinead O'Connor tore up his photo on Saturday Night Live in 1992, Nicky Minaj showed up at the Grammys today in a hooded red satin Versace gown resembling a nun's habit, with a Pope John Paul II lookalike on her arm. If it was a WTF-moment the hip-hop star was going for, she more than earned it, but what it all means remains open to interpretation. One thing is for certain: Minaj's flare for red carpet drama will be met with some derision, coming as it does at this year's solemn festivities.
Speaking of solemnity -- and God, for that matter -- LL Cool J opened the ceremony with a prayer for Whitney Houston. As music luminaries and other industry-types lowered their heads, the rapper and actor recited:
"Heavenly father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us. Today our thoughts are with her mother, her daughter, and all of her lovedd ones. And although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to be touched by her beautiful spirit, and to have her lasting legacy of music to cherish and share forever. Amen."
Later, Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt did double-memorial-duty, honoring both Houston and Etta James. Gawker has the video.