LOS ANGELES (AP) — Unlike last year, when the Grammys became the Adele show, each of the leading nominees in a diverse and eclectic field got a chance to bask in the spotlight of music’s biggest night.
Fun., whose anthemic and semidark jam “We Are Young” dominated the charts in 2012, won song of the year. Gotye’s massive and oddball pop hit, “Somebody I Used to Know,” picked up record of the year. And folk-rockers Mumford & Sons won album of the year for their platinum-selling “Babel.”
Fun. also won best new artist, besting Frank Ocean in an upset.
The Recording Academy had a clear message at its 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night: There are a lot of top acts today with both mainstream appeal and an edge to their music, and the academy was happy to spread the love.
“One after the other, it was like, ‘And the Black Keys...,’ so I think we just sort of resigned ourselves to like, last year was Adele’s year and this year would be the Black Keys,” said lead singer Marcus Mumford, who thought his band would lose album of the year to the Black Keys.
Then Mumford added in a loud scream once he learned they won: “It’s (expletive) awesome!”
Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, the night’s big winner with four trophies, was one of six acts with the most nominations — six each. He won non-classical producer of the year, while the Black Keys earned the best rock album, song and performance honors.
“Thank you to our families and everybody in Akron, Ohio, and everybody in Nashville,” the band’s drummer, Patrick Carney, said.
The Black Keys dominated the rock category, while Jay-Z and Kanye West did the same in the rap area. But the pop, country and R&B categories were a reflection of the top four honors, with no single act dominating. Winners in those categories ranged from Adele to Paul McCartney, Carrie Underwood to the Zac Brown Band, and Usher to Miguel.
Ocean, Mumford & Sons, Jay-Z, Kanye West and fun. were also the top nominees of the night, and they won multiple Grammys.
But Ocean — who was anticipated to win best new artist — won two trophies and was restricted to the urban categories. It was another year the Grammys dissed a rap or R&B artist from the top awards. Last year, West lost in an upset and in 2011 it was Eminem.
Ocean’s official studio debut, “channel ORANGE,” did win best urban contemporary album. He also won best rap/sung collaboration for “No Church In the Wild” with West, Jay-Z and The-Dream.
But the R&B singer released one of the year’s most critically revered albums last year, which made several best-of-the-year lists. He also made headlines when he revealed his first love was a man shortly before the album’s release.
Ocean’s loss to fun. for best new artist was a shock, but the band’s win was understood. The pop-rock trio had two of the year’s biggest hits with “We Are Young” and “Some Nights.” Their sophomore album, “Some Nights,” is also near-platinum.
“Making music for 12 years — you don’t think you’ll get Grammy-nominated,” lead singer Nate Ruess said backstage. “Radio and mainstream just kind of picked up on (us) and it feels good for us after 12 years of people kind of just ignoring you and always feeling like you’re kind of the bridesmaid.”
Like fun., Gotye had a monstrous hit with the Kimbra-assisted “Somebody that I Used to Know,” and it won record of the year and best pop duo/group collaboration. His album, “Making Mirrors,” won best alternative music album.
Gotye’s three wins were joined by Black Keys, West, Jay-Z and Skrillex, who picked up the same trophies he won last year.
“You know what, I thought I’d get used to it, but I tripped over every word when I was up there. I felt like I just wanted a pool of ice water and just couldn’t even breathe or think,” said the electronic-DJ, who won best dance recording, dance/electronica album and remixed recording. “It was crazy. I think it was even crazier than last year.”
Double winners included Ocean, fun., Mumford & Sons, Chick Corea, Esperanza Spalding and Matt Redman.
The various winners of the night were hard to predict. Mumford & Sons won album of the year, though the band lost best Americana album to Bonnie Raitt. And fun. won song of the year and best new artist, but lost best pop vocal album to Kelly Clarkson.
The performances — as usual — were also a reflection of diversity in music: Taylor Swift opened with her pop smash “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and Miguel sang his R&B hit “Adorn” onstage and off of it.
“Miguel, I don’t know who the hell you are, but we need to sing together,” Clarkson said when accepting an award. “I mean, good god. That was the sexiest dancing I’ve ever seen.”
The night’s most memorable performance was the tribute to Levon Helm, which featured Elton John, Mumford & Sons, T Bone Burnett and the raspy vocals of Mavis Staples and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes.
They earned a standing ovation. Jack White, who was nominated for the album of the year, was also well-received Sunday night.
Justin Timberlake made a return to the Grammy stage, performing his new hit “Suit & Tie” and a new song, the falsetto-heavy “Push Your Love Girl.” Jay-Z joined the pop star onstage, and there were more collaborations like it throughout the night.
Alicia Keys joined Maroon 5, Miranda Lambert sang with Dierks Bentley, and Rihanna, Bruno Mars and Sting paid tribute to Bob Marley. They were joined by Damian and Ziggy Marley. The crowd sang along during “Could You Be Loved.”
Adele, who was last year’s big winner with six trophies, won best pop performance for “Set Fire to the Rain (Live).” She said backstage that she’s enjoying motherhood and is at the beginning stages of recording her next album.
“I’ve been up since 6 a.m. so I’m quite tired. But it’s nice, I haven’t been as stressed out,” she said. “You kind of have to prioritize what you stress about and worry about when you have a child.”