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Nicki Minaj performs an exorcism — on herself

The singer's performance of 'Roman Holiday' features levitation, writhing and speaking in tongues.

February 13, 2012|By Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times
  • Nicki Minaj performs at the Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Nicki Minaj performs at the Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles… (Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles…)

Did the devil make her do it, or was it her publicist?

Normally, it's a compliment to say that a female singer performed like a woman possessed. But that may not be the case for singer Nicki Minaj's Linda Blair-like turn — minus the head-twisting and projectile vomiting — at the Grammy Awards, particularly among Roman Catholic viewers.

In an over-the-top unveiling of her latest single, "Roman Holiday," toward the end of Sunday's telecast, Minaj acted out a prime-time exorcism on herself (or perhaps her alter ego, Roman Zolanski). She levitated, writhed, appeared to speak in tongues and romped through a stained-glass-windowed set surrounded by white-robed celebrants.

Grammy Awards 2012: Show performances

The song is from Minaj's forthcoming sophomore album, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded."

Minaj's satanic shtick at the Grammys was part of a carefully staged performance-art P.R. exercise. The native of Trinidad and Tobago turned up on the Staples Center red carpet fetchingly attired in a billowing red dress and matching cloak, side by side with an unidentified man (reportedly an actor ) dressed as a pope and bearing a curious resemblance to John Paul II.

Grammys 2012: Fashions mostly elegant with a wacky edge

Minaj could've used a few more prayers. She lost to Bon Iver for best new artist. But she may have the last, diabolical laugh: According to our Pop & Hiss blog "Roman Holiday" was set to be made available to iTunes and go on sale immediately after Sunday's telecast.

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