Nicki Minaj performs an exorcism — on herself

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.

reed.johnson@latimes.com

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