At the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night, Arcade Fire took home the night’s top prize, winning Album of the Year for The Suburbs.
It was a shocking upset from the Canadian collective: the group, whose album was the only one in the category to be released on an independent label, beat out Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Lady Antebellum — artists who won numerous other awards throughout the night. Eminem, one of the night’s favored winners with 10 nominations, went home with only two awards: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Solo Performance.
“What the hell?” a shocked Win Butler said during his acceptance, which was presented by Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. (Streisand herself even seemed stunned: she stumbled on the pronunciation of the band’s name.) “Thank you to the Grammys, thank you everyone. We’re so happy!” The band topped off their surprise win with a high-powered performance of “Ready to Start.”
This year’s winners list was one of the most surprising in years, and was heavy on upsets. Esperanza Spalding took home the coveted prize of Best New Artist — shutting out Justin Bieber, Florence and the Machine, Drake, and Mumford and Sons — while chart-topping country stars Lady Antebellum took home Grammys for both Record and Song of the Year, beating favored nominees Cee Lo (for “F*** You”) and Eminem and Rihanna (for “Love the Way You Lie”).
In other top categories, Muse won Best Rock Album for The Resistance, the Black Keys scored Best Alternative Album for Brothers, and Jay-Z and Alicia Keys earned the Best Rap Song Grammy for “Empire State of Mind.” (Check out a list of winners below.)
Of course, the performances were the highlights of this year’s telecast. Lady Gaga — who arrived at the ceremony housed in an egg shell — delivered a tightly choreographed version of her new, ever familiar sounding single “Born This Way,” although it was not nearly as eye-popping as her wild red carpet entrance.Muse staged a mini riot of their own with an explosive version of “Uprising,” which was bolstered with pyrotechnics, strobe lights, and an army of flag-waving anarchists running through the aisles of the Staples Center.
And 67-year-old Mick Jagger — delivering his first-ever Grammy performance — proved he was still in fighting shape with an aerobic tribute to Solomon Burke: the Rolling Stones frontman, sporting slick Nike sneakers, danced and shook across the stage during a hard-charging cover of “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” backed by Raphael Saadiq and his band.
But the night’s hottest moments were those that found artists who span many generations and genres sharing the stage for the first time. Eminem, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Rihanna, and Dr. Dre (in his first television appearance in over a decade) teamed up for ace renditions of “Love the Way You Lie” and “I Need a Doctor.”
Earlier, Bob Dylan knighted younger folk-minded artists like Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers with a stunning rendition of Dylan’s classic “Maggie’s Farm.” Even though Dylan’s voice sounds cracked at 69, the Bard still appeared at ease performing with such muscular support from his two supporting bands. The night kicked off with a moving multi-song tribute to Aretha Franklin, performed by Christina Aguilera, Florence and the Machine’s Florence Welch, Martina McBride, Yolanda Adams, and Jennifer Hudson.
Cee Lo and Gwyneth Paltrow seemed to have the most fun, however. The pair — backed by Jim Henson’s Muppets — tore through an explosive rendition of “F*** You,” which featured Cee Lo, sporting Technicolor feathers, tipping his hat to Elton John’s own 1977 performance with the Muppets for “Crocodile Rock.” Unfortunately, Cee Lo only managed to take home one Grammy for his smash hit in the category of Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
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The 53rd Annual Grammy Winners:
Album of the Year: Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
Record of the Year: Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Song of the Year: Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Best New Artist: Esperanza Spalding
Best Rap Album: Eminem, Recovery
Best Pop Vocal Album: Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster
Best Alternative Music Album: The Black Keys, Brothers
Best Rock Album: Muse, The Resistance
Best Rap Song: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”
Best Pop Performance by Duo or Group: Train, “Hey, Soul Sister (Live)”
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: Bruno Mars, “Just the Way You Are”
Best Dance Recording: Rihanna, “Only Girl (In the World)”
Best Electronic Dance Album: La Roux, La Roux
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group: Black Keys, “Tighten Up”
Best Hard Rock Performance: Them Crooked Vultures, “New Fang”
Best Metal Performance: Iron Maiden, “El Dorado”
Best Rock Song: Neil Young, “Angry World”
Best Rap Solo Performance: Eminem, “Not Afraid”
Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group: Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz, “On to the Next One”
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”
Best R&B Song: John Legend and the Roots, “Shine”
Best Urban/Alternative Performance: Cee Lo, “F*** You”
Best R&B Album: John Legend and the Roots, Wake Up
Best Contemporary R&B Album: Usher, Raymond v Raymond
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Danger Mouse