Los Angeles: Lady Antebellum’s yearning crossover ballad Need You Now captured record and song of the year honors at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, two of the country trio’s leading five trophies on a night that was short on awards but heavy on spectacle performances.
The ceremony also had a huge upset, as Esperanza Spalding, a jazz bassist and singer who sold a fraction of favorite Justin Bieber’s music, beat the 16-year-old pop phenomenon for best new artist. She also defeated Drake and British groups Florence & the Machine and Mumford & Sons.
She is the first jazz artist to ever win the category.
“I take this honour to heart so sincerely and I’ll do my damnedest to make great music for all of you. It’s such an honour and God bless,” said a shocked Spalding, who released her third album, The Chamber Music Society, last year.
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.
“Thanks, Justin Bieber, for not being a duo or group,” joked frontman Pat Monahan.
Eminem entered the evening as the top nominee with 10, but it was looking to be a major disappointment for the rapper, who had only won best rap solo performance and rap album as the evening drew to a close. The rapper had 2010’s best-selling album with “Recovery” and the critically acclaimed album marked a rebirth for the Eminem.
The Grammys give out 109 awards but most of those are doled out before the live telecast in a ceremony before the CBS show. Instead of focusing on the awards, the Grammy show emphasized performances with extravagant showcases to the that featured 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.
Decked out in feathers of seemingly every hue, Green _ who was nominated for record and song of the year for the dirty version of the song, (Expletive) You, crooned alongside a sassy gaggle of puppets and Paltrow, who performed Forget You on the Fox TV show Glee. The actress, who recently played a singer in the movie “Country Song” and is slated to sing on the Oscars telecast, perhaps should seriously consider joining hubby Chris Martin of Coldplay as a regular recording artist.
It was easily the show stopper in a night of performances that included a tribute to Aretha Franklin, a retro performance from Bruno Mars, a dazzling number by newcomer Janelle Monae that was James Brown-esque, a collaboration with Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers and a very raspy Bob Dylan.
British rock band Muse performed in its Grammy debut. It won best rock album for The Resistance, beating out Pearl Jam, Neil Young and British guitarist Jeff Beck, who won twice for instrumental performances.
Gospel legend Mavis Staples was a tearful winner as she picked up the first Grammy of her career, for best Americana album, for You Are Not Alone.
“That was the shock of my life. My goodness. It’s been a long time, a long time coming,” she said, breaking into tears.
Young also won his first musical Grammy (he had won for best boxed box set in 2009). “I’m not Mavis, but I’m close,” he joked, as he held his trophy for best rock song for Angry World.
In the pre-televised ceremony, Toumani Diabate and the late Ali Farka Toure of Mali won best traditional world music album for Ali And Toumani. Their 2005 collaboration “In the Heart of the Moon”
Banjo maestro Bela Fleck won again for best contemporary world music album for Throw Down Your Heart, Africa Sessions Part 2, his 15th Grammy. The first volume of his Africa Sessions series, which explores the banjo’s African roots, won two Grammys.
In the Latin awards, Grupo Fantasma, a funky Latin orchestra from Austin, Texas, won best Latin rock, alternative or urban album for El Existential, taking home its first Grammy on its second trip to the awards show. It won over ChocQuibTown, the Afro-Colombian hip-hop trio nominated for best Latin rock, alternative or urban album, which performed De Donde Vengo Yo (Where I Come From), winner for best alternative song at the Latin Grammys in November.
“It’s a great thing,” said Jose Galeano, a singer and timbale player. “It’s time people start listening to this type of music ... It’s not reggaeton, it’s not rap. It’s a little bit of everything.”
The Spanish Harlem Orchestra won best tropical Latin album for Viva La Tradicion, its second win.
For best Latin jazz album, Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes and The Afro-Cuban Messengers won for Chucho’s Steps. Valdes has now won five Grammys, his last in 2009 for “Juntos Para Siempre,” which he made with his father, Bebo Valdes.
VIVA LA MUSICA! Chucho Valdes wrote on Twitter. “Happy for this new Grammy!”
Alejandro Sanz of Spain won best Latin pop album for Paraiso Express, his third Grammy win.
Other Latin winners included Little Joe & La Familia for best Tejano album; Intocable for best Norteno album; El Guero Y Su Banda Centenario for best Banda album.
Buju Banton of Jamaica won best reggae album for Before The Dawn. Banton faces life in prison with a trial scheduled to begin Monday, five months after a previous jury hung on federal drug trafficking charges.
British duo La Roux won for best electronic album.
French DJ David Guetta and Afrojack won for best remixed recording, nonclassical, Guetta’s second win in that category.
Ray LaMontagne won best contemporary folk album for God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise, an unexpected hit that the singer-songerwriter produced himself after facing resistence from his label, RCA.
In other traditional American categories, the black string band Carolina Chocolate Drops won for best traditional folk album, for Genuine Negro Jig; Buddy Guy won for best contemporary blues album for Living Proof; Pinetop Perkins and Willie ’Big Eyes’ Smith won for best traditional blues album for Joined At The Hip; Patty Loveless won best bluegrass album for Mountain Soul II; Chubby Carrier and The Bayou Swamp Band won for best zydeco or Cajun album for Zydeco Junkie; Tia Carrere, who starred in the film Wayne’s World, won for best Hawaiian album.
Dee Dee Bridgewater won for best jazz vocal album for her tribute to Billie Holiday. In the best jazz instrumental album category, the late James Moody bested the Vijay Iyer Trio.
Japanese guitarist Tak Matsumoto won for best pop instrumental album.
The Beatles’ complete remastered studio recordings won for best historical album. The Beatles last won for the remixed Love album, in the compilation soundtrack and surround-sound categories. Paul McCartney, meanwhile, won best solo rock vocal performance for Helter Skelter on Good Evening New York City.