Gotye, Frank Ocean, fun., Black Keys all rack up Grammy Awards
Nick Patch, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, February 10, 2013 3:15PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 11, 2013 11:14AM EST
LOS ANGELES -- The 55th Grammy Awards were going in seemingly every direction at once Sunday, with Fun., blues-rock duo the Black Keys, Australian breakout Gotye and sensitive R&B crooner Frank Ocean all racking up major trophies.
Fun. took song of the year and best new artist, with the latter -- thought to be hotly contested between Ocean and fun. -- seeming to elicit some amusement from the New York trio, who have been together since 2008.
"We're so old!" laughed frontman Nate Ruess, who struck a similar tone when accepting the song of the year award for their sky-scraping anthem "We Are Young."
"Oh God. I don't know what I was thinking writing the chorus for this song -- if this is in HD, everyone can see our faces and we are not very young," said the soon-to-be 31-year-old, whose band performed "Carry On" amid an impressive fake downpour.
"We've been doing this for 12 years and I've just gotta say that we could not do this without the help of all the fans we've had keeping us afloat.... I guess we've felt like your best-kept secret. So thank you guys so much."
The 25-year-old Ocean picked up awards for best rap/sung collaboration and best urban contemporary album for his wildly ambitious debut commercial release "Channel Orange." He's been lauded by critics not only for his intricate, introspective songwriting but also the openness with which he discussed a past gay relationship in a letter to fans -- a milestone for R&B music.
With his soft speaking voice and gently hunched shoulders, Ocean didn't seem entirely comfortable amid the gloss and glitz of the Grammys.
"I hear ... the way you disarm audiences is by picturing them naked, but I don't want to do that," the L.A.-based singer said quietly as he claimed his first-ever award.
"I want to say thank you to my mother for being the best," he added, as his teary-eyed mom was captured clapping along.
In a typically curious Grammys decison, the tune by fun. won song of the year -- awarded to the songwriter -- but not the performance-based record of the year, which went to three-time winner Gotye. The mop-topped singer was handed the award by a cane-carrying Prince, and at first could only pay his respect to the pop genius.
"I'm a little bit lost for words to receive an award from the man standing behind us with a cane," he said.
The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach actually led in awards, with his outfit sweeping the rock categories -- song, album and performance -- while he also took the trophy for producer of the year.
Skrillex, Jay-Z and Kanye West also won three apiece partway through the show.
Other multiple winners included Esperanza Spalding, Gotye and Chick Corea.
Taylor Swift kicked off the show with an "Alice in Wonderland"-inspired rendition of her hit "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." She sported an outfit reminiscent of the Mad Hatter's -- a white-suit jacket, matching top hat and hot pants -- while a cast of eccentrics surrounded her. Meanwhile, some poor gentleman -- and the presumed target of Swift's scorn -- was fastened to a gigantic onstage bullseye.
Justin Timberlake's performance similarly hit the mark.
Taking the stage after a long break -- he recently announced the upcoming release of his first album in seven years -- the image went suddenly monochromatic while the tuxedoed singer moved slickly while surrounded by dancers steeped in old-school L.A. glamour. After an assist from Jay-Z, Timberlake smoothly segued into another new tune "Pusher Love Girl" before being serenaded with an enthusiastic reaction.
And a joyous tribute to reggae legend Bob Marley was as compelling as it was unexpected. Marley's sons Damian and Ziggy took the stage with a rather unlikely cast of characters -- dimpled Hawaiian pop maestro Bruno Mars, Barbadian R&B siren Rihanna and famed British multi-hyphenate Sting -- for the three-song melange "Locked Out of Heaven" (Mars' 2012 single), "Walking on the Moon" (the 1979 Police new wave classic) and Marley's "Could You Be Loved."
Carly Rae Jepsen was one of many Canadians to go home disappointed, as she lost out on song of the year and watched pop solo vocal performance go to British powerhouse Adele, who swept all six categories in which she was nominated last year.
"I just wanted to come and be part of the night, because I loved it last year -- obviously," joked the new mother, who said backstage that new music was still a ways off.
"I just want to send love to all the other girls (nominated).... We work so hard and make it look so easy."
In other performances, two British singer/songwriters from different generations -- Elton John and 21-year-old Ed Sheeran -- meshed smoothly on the latter's tender hit "The A Team," while innovative R&B crooner Miguel wowed with a truncated take on his "Adorn," which won a Grammy earlier in the day.
He made at least one new fan in Kelly Clarkson, who won for best pop vocal album.
"Miguel, I don't know who the hell you are but we need to sing together," she enthused in a wide-ranging acceptance speech that begin with a furious flurry of hugs for other audience members.
"I mean, good God. That was the sexiest thing I've ever seen."
Jay-Z also created one of the evening's funniest moments while accepting the award for best rap/sung collaboration alongside Ocean and The-Dream, who wore a black "Boyz in the Hood"-themed baseball cap on top of a "Parental Advisory" bandanna.
"I'd like to thank the swap meet for his hat," he quipped to roaring laughter.
(Backstage, The-Dream said he got the hat at a store called Spencer's, and said of Jay-Z: "he loves going at me.")
Jennifer Lopez was just presenting an award, but she also managed to earn headlines with a slinky slate-grey dress that revealed her entire right leg. She then referenced the widely circulated note from the Grammys instructing talent to keep their outfits tasteful.
"So, as you can see, I got the memo," Lopez joked.
Meanwhile, Toronto rapper Drake finally claimed his first Grammy out of 12 nominations.
The 26-year-old born Aubrey Graham took his inaugural hardware in the best rap album category, with his moody sophomore hit "Take Care" emerging triumphant.
The rest of the Canadian nominee contingent, which included Michael Buble, Toronto's Melanie Fiona and Montreal's Arcade Fire, went home empty-handed in their categories.