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Spotlight On The 55th Annual Grammy Awards
Photos by Glenda S. Paradee & Glen R. Forrester

The 55th Annual Grammy Awards were held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, and broadcast on CBS Television. The show was hosted by LL Cool J, with performances from country stars Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and Zac Brown Band.

Taylor opened the show with a circus-inspired performance of her Grammy nominated song, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." Miranda and Dierks performed a medley of sorts of Miranda's hit, "Over You," and Dierks' hit "Home." Carrie performed a medley of "Blown Away" and "Two Black Cadillacs." The Zac Brown Band was part of a tribute to Levon Helm and the Sandy Hook victims, along with Elton John, Mumford & Sons, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, T Bone Burnett and Mavis Staples. They sang "The Weight."

The 55th Annual Grammy Awards was its usual jam-packed self, with host LL Cool J deftly shepherding the three and a half-hour broadcast from concert mode to ceremony and back again while both fresh (Frank Ocean, Gotye, fun.!) and familiar (Adele, Elton John, Justin Timberlake, Rhianna, Rhianna again!) folks took to the stage to accept their accolades or rock the house. Or, sometimes, do both.

But even though we didn't really know what to expect in the first place, there were plenty of surprises-and no one seemed more surprised by who won Grammys this year than the people who actually won them.

Mum's the Word: Congrats to British folk rockers Mumford & Sons, who first got introduced by Johnny Depp (surprise!) and then made off with Album of the Year for Babel in the face of mounting opposition from fun., winners for Song of the Year and Best New Artist; the Black Keys, whose El Camino was named Best Rock Album (and whose dominance was noted by Marcus Mumford himself); and Frank Ocean, whose Channel Orange was named the first-ever Best Urban Contemporary Album. Babel had lost out to Bonnie Raitt's Slipstream for Best Americana Album, so theirs was a surprising-if still well-deserved-victory when it came down to it.

Prince was certainly delighted to honor Gotye for Record of the Year, the hoodie-wearing and cane-toting legend purring, "Oh, I love this song," as he turned a Grammy over to the Belgian-Australian artist and duet partner Kimbra. And while it seems like ages since "Somebody That I Used to Know" was the "Some Nights" or "I Knew You Were Trouble" of our favorite radio station, hearing those spare strings and Gotye's mournful, indignant wail made us remember how awesome that song is.

Kelly Clarkson has won Grammys before, so it was rather adorable to see her act so incredibly shocked to win Best Pop Vocal Album for Stronger, topping fun's Some Nights, among others, in the process. "I'm so sorry, I got stuck to Miranda Lambert!" she exclaimed after getting hung up for a sec on her pal's sequined dress and giving Katy Perry a little I'm-not-worthy bow on her way to the stage. "There's a story and a song, for later-after alcohol. I'm just kidding, children. I get nervous speaking in front of people! I didn't know I was going to win! 'Cause I literally, I was so excited to be in a category with fun., I've been covering you all summer. I'm sorry, I love that song. I think it's so awesome. I love Pink. I love everyone-Adele, who I was in a category with. Miguel, I don't know who the hell you are, but we need to sing together. I mean, good God! That was the sexiest damn thing I've ever seen," she said, referring to his earlier performance. "What?! Anyway, thank you so much, friends, family, label, my fiance, who is sexy tonight, y'all. I did not think I was gonna win." And, in a lilting high voice, "Thank you!"

In case you needed more proof that Jay-Z is the coolest cat out there, he stole the whole show with one unscripted line. First, he let Frank Ocean and The-Dream have the spotlight when the bunch of them won for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "No Church in the Wild," figuring he's been the center of the attention for, like, ever and he may as well let his collaborators have their moment. And then, in reference to The-Dream's baseball hat tucked over a cap with "Parental Advisory" stamped all over it, Jay-Z just leaned into the microphone and said, "I would like to thank the swap meet for his hat." Boom. Done.

Grammy Awards Country Music Winners:

Best Country Solo Performance
Blown Away - Carrie Underwood

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Pontoon - Little Big Town

Best Country Song
Blown Away - Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)

Best Country Album
Uncaged - Zac Brown Band

Best Bluegrass Album
Nobody Knows You - Steep Canyon Rangers

Best Folk Album
The Goat Rodeo Sessions - Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile



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