Surprise Grammy success for Arcade Fire, Esperanza Spalding, Lady Antebellum
Montreal alt-rock collective Arcade Fire pulled a surprise win at the Grammy Awards Sunday (2/13), taking home the Album of the Year for "The Suburbs," stepping ahead of Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. It was the group's first Grammy.
Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand presented the award to the visibly shocked band.
"What the hell," said Arcade Fire's American-born, Canada-residing lead singer Win Butler. "Thank you. I just want to say thank you to Montreal, Quebec, for taking us in."
In other upsets, Esperanza Spalding, a jazz bassist/vocalist, shocked fans of Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence and the Machine and Mumford and Sons -- all of whom were shut out this awards season -- to win the coveted Best New Artist prize. It was the first time a jazz artist has won the category in the Grammy Awards' 53-year history.
"I take this honor to heart so sincerely and I'll do my damnedest to make great music for all of you," said Spalding, who released her third album, "The Chamber Music Society," in 2010. "It's such an honor and God bless."
The big winners of the night, however, were Lady Antebellum, whose booty call ballad "Need You Now" captured five trophies, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
"We're so stunned we started walking in the wrong direction," said Lady A's Hillary Scott when her band won Record of the Year. "We had the opportunity to perform this song on the Grammy stage last year. What a year holds. We can't believe it."
Lady A bested Eminem, the top nominee with 10. However, Em went home with wins in only the Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Album categories.
"Wow, this is crazy," Eminem said about his Best Rap Album win. "First off, I want to thank everybody, all the producers who helped me put this record together.... I want to thank Rihanna, too, for helping propel the album to where it is now.
"What up Detroit. Stand up," he added, echoing the sentiment of his Super Bowl Chrysler commercial.
Train was honored with Best Pop Performance Duo or Group for a live rendition of its ubiquitous single "Hey Soul Sister."
"Wow, I'm freaking out," said singer Pat Monahan. "Thanks Justin Bieber for not being a duo or group. We have been through so much, the three of us. It's so great to be back."
Lady Gaga won Best Female Pop Vocal Album, Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Short Form Video. She thanked one of her heroes in accepting Best Pop Vocal Album.
"I need to thank Whitney Houston," Gaga said. "I wanted to thank Whitney because when I wrote 'Born this Way,' I imagined she was singing it because I wasn't secure enough in myself to imagine I was a superstar. So, Whitney, I imagined you were singing 'Born This Way' when I wrote it."
This year's 109-prize Grammys were more about performances and less about the awards, most of which were handed out in a pre-event telecast. The show kicked off with an all-star tribute to Aretha Franklin that included female singers Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine and Jennifer Hudson.
Franklin, who underwent surgery last year for a rumored bout with pancreatic cancer, appeared on screen and thanked the singers for the honor.
"I especially want to thank all of you who took the time to send me get well cards and beautiful flowers and most importantly your prayers during my time of hospitalization," said Franklin, wearing a white gown.
Introduced by Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga also wore white as she emerged from an egg to sing her Madonna-inspired latest single "Born This Way." Winners Muse made their Grammy debut for an amazing version of "Uprising."
A powerhouse trio of young break-out stars with 14 nominations between them -- Bruno Mars, B.o.B. and Janelle Monae -- provided one of the best performances of the night. Mars sang his hit "Grenade" as a 1950s-era soul song.
The most humorous presentation was the "Forget You" collaboration between Cee Lo Green, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jim Henson's Muppets. Green -- decked out in wide glasses and a peacock costume that would made Elton John envious -- performed the song as a duet with Paltrow, who sang it on the Fox TV show "Glee."
Other performers included the trio of Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers and Bob Dylan; Lady Antebellum; Katy Perry; and Eminem with Rihanna, Adam Levine, Skylar Grey (formerly known as Holly Brook, who sang "Where'd You Go" with Fort Minor in 2006) and Dr. Dre.