I watched about 2 hours of the Grammy Awards, which is more than I usually do. As you'd expect, the performances were a mixed bag, but generally entertaining. I thought Cee Lo Green and Gwyneth Paltrow were particularly fun. I thought the Aretha Franklin tribute was nice, although a little long. Recap of the night's big winners:
Arcade Fire: So the top award goes to...Arcade Fire! What a major surprise and a great one too, as this was my favorite album nominated. It's interesting that they won AOTY but lost their genre category, as The Black Keys' Brothers snagged Best Alternative Album (Arcade Fire also lost to Black Keys in the Rock Duo/Group category). The last time an album won without also winning a genre award was the O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack 9 years ago, which did win the soundtrack award, but "soundtrack" isn't really a music genre. Three of the other four AOTY nominees won their genre awards: Lady Gaga for pop (beating Katy Perry), Lady Antebellum for country, and Eminem for rap.
Lady Antebellum: Snagged both Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Need You Now." First time in 3 years both awards went to the same song, Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" being the last such double winner. The ROTY win continues the trend of the winner being single that did not hit #1 on the Hot 100 for the 11th year in a row. The country band was one of the night's biggest winners, scoring five wins including Country Album, Country Duo/Group, and Country Song.
Esperanza Spalding: The virtually unknown jazz bassist and vocalist from Portland, Oregon, was the surprise win for Best New Artist, beating Justin Bieber, Drake, Mumford & Sons, and Florence & the Machine. She was the only nominated act to not perform last night.
Lady Gaga: Three awards for Gaga, including Pop Album and Female Pop and Music Video for "Bad Romance." An emotional Gaga paid tribute to Whitney Houston when she accepted the pop album award, saying that when she wrote and recorded her new single "Born This Way," she envisioned Whitney Houston singing it because she didn't have the confidence in herself to envision her doing so. Interesting.
Jay-Z: Also won three awards, all in rap, including Best Rap Song and Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Empire State of Mind" (with Alicia Keys) and Rap Duo/Group for "On to the Next One," with Swizz Beatz.
Eminem: Although he lost the general categories, he did pick up Rap Album and Rap Solo for "Not Afraid."