LOS ANGELES – Lady Antebellum was the big winner at the Grammys with five awards, including record and song of the year for the band’s yearning crossover ballad “Need You Now,” but rockers Arcade Fire won Sunday’s biggest prize, album of the year, for their highly acclaimed “The Suburbs.”
Arcade Fire’s Win Butler was visibly stunned as the group accepted their trophy and then quickly rushed to perform the last song of the night.
Eminem perhaps had reason to be stunned as well. Though nominated for a leading 10 awards, including record, song and album of the year, he took home just two – both in the rap categories, for best album and solo performance.
While Arcade Fire’s win was a surprise, it wasn’t totally unexpected, as “The Suburbs” dominated many critics’ best-of lists of 2010. The true upset, however, came as Esperanza Spalding – a jazz bassist and singer who sold a fraction of Justin Bieber’s music and is perhaps best identified by her voluminous Afro – beat the 16-year-old pop phenomenon, and also Florence & the Machine, Mumford & Sons and Drake for best new artist.
She is the first jazz artist to ever win the category.
The evening’s other top winners included Jay-Z, John Legend and Lady Gaga, who each had three trophies; Muse, who won best rock album; and Train, whose “Hey, Soul Sister (Live),” one of the year’s top songs, captured best pop performance by a duo or group with vocals.
Lady Antebellum’s wins mark the second straight year a country crossover act was the night’s top story; last year, Taylor Swift captured best album among her wins.
The Grammys give out 109 awards – but most of those are doled out in a ceremony before the CBS show. Instead of focusing on the awards, the Grammy show emphasized performances for the year’s most celebrated artists, along with emerging acts and true legends.
Lady Gaga entered the Staples Center, where the Grammys were held, in dramatic fashion, encased in an egg as dancers carried her to the stage. When she “hatched,” she seemed to have turned into Madonna, circa 1987, as she sashayed across the stage to her new song “Born This Way.”
But the singer, normally the most outrageous performer on any bill, was out-Gaga’d by Cee Lo Green, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jim Henson Co.’s puppets, who gave a hilarious performance of “Forget You” that would have done Elton John proud.