United States country trio Lady Antebellum emerged as surprise winners on Sunday at the Grammy Awards, taking five awards in a disappointing night for rapper Eminem at the music industry’s annual mega-bash.
Canadian indie band Arcade Fire won the coveted best album top award at the climax of the three-and-half-hour show in Los Angeles, while Lady Gaga — who turned up in an egg, in inimitable style — garnered three gongs.
Superstar rapper Jay-Z also won three Grammys — including two for Empire State of Mind, his duet with Alicia Keys — as did soul star John Legend.
Eminem, who had been nominated in 10 categories and was hoping to cap a comeback year, had to settle for two wins after a show including performances by rock legend Mick Jagger, folk icon Bob Dylan and diva Barbra Streisand.
Jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding, who is one of President Barack Obama’s favourite musicians, was named best newcomer at the music industry’s annual awards, beating teen sensation Justin Bieber.
‘On a cloud’
Lady Antebellum appeared shocked by their success, in winning in five of the six categories for which they had been nominated, including best song and best record for Need You Now, from their best-selling album of the same name.
“We are completely floating … We’re on a cloud,” said female band member Hillary Scott after the show, while Charles Kelley, leader singer of the Nashville-based band, added: “It definitely feels pretty surreal.”
The trio were only prevented from winning a clean sweep of all six categories in which they were nominated by Arcade Fire, who won album of the year Grammy for their record The Suburbs.
Eminem, who performed Love the Way You Lie with Rihanna at LA’s Staples Centre, had garnered the most nominations with nods in 10 categories — but ended the evening with only two — best rap album and best rap solo.
The show began with a tribute to soul legend Aretha Franklin, with singers including Christina Aguilera belting out a string of Franklin’s hits including Respect, Think and (You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman.
The Queen of Soul, recovering from reported cancer surgery, send a video message thanking everyone for their prayers and promising to be back for next year’s show.
Of the veterans who did perform on Sunday, Jagger was the most explosive, rocking the show with a version of the Blues Brothers’ classic Everybody Needs Somebody.
Dressed in a purple gown Streisand, who rarely performs in public these days, sang Evergreen, while Dylan growled his way through Maggie’s Farm backed by an acoustic band, with a harmonica flourish at the end.
In other awards for oldies, Paul McCartney won best solo rock vocal for his live album Good Evening New York City, while ageing Canadian singer Neil Young won his first ever Grammy, best rock song for Angry World.
On the younger front, Lady Gaga was carried down the red carpet in a large egg, before emerging from it onstage to sing her latest hit Born this Way — which she said afterwards was inspired by, of all people, Whitney Houston.
Equally memorable was Cee Lo Green, who sang his toe-tapping Forget You in a multicoloured feather-topped costume, accompanied by slinkily-dressed actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who ended up dancing on the artist’s grand piano.
After the show top newcomer Spalding, who has performed at the White House twice, played down the fact that she had beaten mega-selling artists, including Bieber — even with his new haircut.
“I didn’t beat him. I mean, he sold more records than me, did he beat me?” Spalding said afterwards. “And he has great hair and I have great hair,” added the Afro-topped 26-year-old.
Bieber downplayed any sense of disappointment, saying of Spalding: “I’m happy for her.”
The Canadian teen also denied a report that he is thinking of moving to Los Angeles, adding: “I think I might move back to Canada.” — AFP