Indie pop band fun., rockers The Black Keys and Australian-Belgian singer Gotye shared the top prizes Sunday at the Grammys, in an eclectic year for the music industry’s biggest awards show.
The New York-based fun. won Song of the Year for “We Are Young” as well as best new artist at the 55th Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center amid tight security as Los Angeles police hunt a former cop wanted for multiple murders.
British rockers Mumford & Sons took Album of the Year with “Babel,” while Gotye won Record of the Year for “Somebody That I Used to Know,” featuring Kimbra.
“I feel like it’s my 21st birthday,” said fun. frontman Nate Ruess, noting that he was actually 30 years old and that the band had been going for 12 years, but had nothing against being named best new artist.
The night saw several pairings of the music world’s younger and older generations: Sting singing with reggae legend Bob Marley’s children; Elton John with fellow Brit Ed Sheeran; and Prince handing a prize to Gotye.
Overall The Black Keys won the most Grammys, with four — best rock performance, best rock song and best rock album for the band, and producer of the year, non-classical, for singer Dan Auerbach.
Gotye took home three trophies — Record of the Year, best pop duo/group performance and best alternative album — as did Jay-Z and Kanye West, who triumphed for best rap performance, rap/sung collaboration and rap song.
Taylor Swift opened the show as a ringmaster in white hot pants and a spangly top hat, with a circus-themed performance of her hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
On a night when performers and presenters were warned not to show too much skin, Jennifer Lopez provided the first fashion moment of the telecast, baring a toned leg and shoulder in an asymmetrical black Anthony Vaccarello gown.
“As you can see, I read the memo!” she joked when she came on stage to present the first award of the night with Pitbull, referring to the leaked letter from broadcasters CBS about the dress code.
British songstress Adele — who scored a clean sweep with six Grammys last year — won that first prize, for best solo performance for a live rendition of her hit “Set Fire to the Rain.”
“My good luck charm, J-Lo,” she said as she accepted the award from Lopez. “This is amazing. I wanted to come and be part of the night. I loved it last year, obviously,” she added.
Other highlights of the three-and-a-half hour show included a rousing tribute to Marley, featuring Sting, Bruno Mars, Rihanna and Ziggy, Stephen and Damian Marley.
They segued from Hawaiian-born Mars’ hit “Locked out of Heaven” into ex-Police frontman Sting’s reggae-rhythmed “Walking on the Moon,” before breaking into Marley’s classic “Could You Be Loved?”
Heartthrob Justin Timberlake also brought the house down with a couple of songs from his new album “The 20/20 Experience,” starting with “Suit and Tie” — in which he was suitably attired.
As the telecast went briefly black and white, he was joined by Jay-Z to sing “Pusher Lover Girl.”
In a two-hour pre-telecast show, Paul McCartney won for best traditional pop vocal album for “Kisses on the Bottom,” while Beyonce won best traditional R&B performance for “Love on Top.”
A frail-looking Beach Boy Brian Wilson was meanwhile honored for best historical album and late Indian sitar legend Ravi Shankar won best world music album for “The Living Room Sessions Part 1.”
In the main Grammy show’s traditional In Memoriam segment, John, Mumford & Sons and others paid tribute to Levon Helm, the late drummer and singer with The Band.
Organizers hoped to avoid drama which the Grammys seem to attract — last year with the death of Whitney Houston on the eve of the show; and a few years before with the infamous Chris Brown-Rihanna domestic assault.
There was minor drama on the eve of the Grammys, but nothing like Houston’s shock death last year: Brown wrecked his Porsche in Beverly Hills on Saturday, and blamed paparazzi for the crash.
The LA Police Department (LAPD), as well as helping provide security for the Grammys, have been involved in a massive manhunt for an ex-cop accused of killing three people and threatening to kill more officers.
Thankfully there were no incidents to disrupt Sunday evening’s show, which went off smoothly.