It was business as usual less than three hours after the sudden death of pop icon Whitney Houston at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, as hundreds of high-profile celebrities worked the room at the annual Clive Davis Grammy party.
But in a suite just four floors above, police were conducting an investigation into the death of the Grammy-winning singer. While Houston’s body remained in the room, her teen daughter stood outside fighting with authorities to see the body. This while a "crime lab" van stood out among the black limousines and SUVs escorting celebrities to and from the event.
In light of the stark contrast between the tragedy of her death and the celebration at the star-studded soiree, for those in attendance at the party, the backlash is burgeoning.
Kim Kardashian (whose ex-boyfriend Ray J was Houston's on and off again beau, and reportedly in the hotel trying to gain access to the room) was photographed smiling alongside the likes of Jane Fonda and Britney Spears, while Diana Ross and Barry Gordy hammed it up for the cameras. Stars like Ne-Yo, Kelly Rowland, Sir Richard Branson, Mary J. Blige and Jon Voight also attended.
But an entertainment industry figure slammed the decision not to cancel the party, telling Pop Tarts, "this wasn't a show that had to go on as it was a party with entertainment," and expressed confusion as to why Davis, of all people, would not have pulled the party plug immediately.
The Davis event was quickly re-branded from being a "party" to a tribute to the late Houston.
"Simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on, and her family asked that we carry on," Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said.
Still, some critics argue that the party took the “show must go on” mantra a little too far.
"It's very sad that commercialism and sponsorship obligations place profit before the memory of a tremendous and fragile artist like Houston," Hollywood producer, Edward Paige, who previously worked with Houston on some shoots, told FOX411's Pop Tarts column. "Everyone is quick to tweet their support or pay tribute or offer a quote but where are these labels, managers and friends when the artist is alive and in crisis? An artist like Houston that gave the world so much deserved better."
There were several stars, including Taylor Swift, Sharon Osbourne and Miley Cyrus, who declined to attend the Davis bash, or any pre-Grammy party for that matter, out of respect for the woman who was deemed one of the biggest industry icons.
But according to PR and media expert Gene Grabowski of Levick Strategic Communications, the celebrants at the Grammy Party shouldn’t be faulted for continuing with the event during the police investigation of Whitney Houston's death.
"I'm sure most of them who knew Whitney would say that she would have wanted them to continue," he said. "Still, the celebrants would have done better to present a more somber and respectful picture of themselves at the party. Those celebrities who chose to stay home rather than attend the party deserve special recognition, but their actions shouldn't cast the actions of the celebrants in a poor light."
By Sunday afternoon, when the Grammy ceremony began at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the atmosphere was still one of confusion, as stars seemed at a loss for how to respond to the news. One recording academy employee addressed the audience just prior to the live telecast, acknowledging Houston's death but also noting that it wasn't something they wanted to "over do."
Grammys host LL Cool J eloquently cut straight to the point, starting the awards ceremony with a prayer before even welcoming the audience. But it was Jennifer Hudson who really brought the house down with an emotional rendition of "I Will Always Love You." Hudson seemed very shaken and upset during her last-minute rehearsal set on Sunday morning, and her solemn tone continued through her stunning performance.