The Black Keys won two awards in the pre-telecast portion of the 55th annual Grammy Awards: Best Rock Album for El Camino and Best Rock Song for “Lonely Boy.” They beat Bruce Springsteen, Jack White and Muse’s Matthew Bellamy in both categories.
In addition, the rock duo’s Dan Auerbach was voted Producer of the Year, Non-Classical.
The duo’s strong showing in the pre-telecast awards increases the chances that it could be an upset winner for Album of the Year. It is competing for that award with Mumford & Sons’ Babel, .fun’s Some Nights, Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange and Jack White’s Blunderbuss.
[ Photos: Grammys red carpet report card ]
The “pre-tel” awards were mixed for Mumford & Sons. The British group won Best Long Form Music Video for Big Easy Express took Best Long Form Music Video—beating U2, who are past category champs (and Grammy gods) U2.
But it lost an award that most thought it was sure to win: Best Americana Album. Instead, Bonnie Raitt took the award for Slipstream. “I was not expecting this,” Raitt said. “This is the same (surprised) face I wore that other time,” referring to her unexpected sweep in 1990 when she won four awards, including Album of the Year for Nick Of Time.
Paul McCartney was also an upset winner for Best Traditional Pop Album. His well-received but modest-selling Kisses On The Bottom, beat Michael Buble’s blockbuster Christmas.
Janis Ian was also an upset winner of Best Spoken Word Album, a category that honors “books on tape.” She beat Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Rachel Maddow and Ellen DeGeneres, which triggered the best joke of the night. “I keep thinking this is the punch-line to a joke that begins, ‘An ex-President, a First Lady and three lesbians walk into a bar…’”
Ian also alluded to the magnitude of the upset. The award had been expected to go to either Clinton or Obama. “To say this is an upset is an understatement.” This is Ian’s second Grammy. She took Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female of 1975 for “At Seventeen.”
Red-hot DJ Skrillex, who won three Grammys last year, won three more awards this year: Best Dance/Electronica Album for Bangarang, Best Dance Recording for the title track (featuring Sirah) and Best Remixed Recording, Non- Classical for his remix of Nero’s “Promises.”
Jay-Z/Kanye West won two awards for their frisky smash “N****s In Paris.” The track is from their hit 2011 collaboration, Watch The Throne. These awards bring West’s total of Grammys to 20; Jay-Z’s to 16. (With both artists, all of the awards have come in the rap and R&B fields. That’s a sore point with West.)
Gotye won two awards: Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Somebody That I Used To Know” (featuring Kimbra) and Best Alternative Music Album for Making Mirrors.
Esperanza Spalding, who was a surprise winner for Best New Artist two years ago, won two awards. She won Best Jazz Vocal Album for Radio Music Society and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for “City Of Roses.” She wrote the arrangement with Thara Memory, who has been her teacher since she was eight.
Matt Redman won two Grammys for his song “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord).” The song won Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance and tied for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song. Redman co-wrote the song with Jonas Myrin.
Jay-Z/Kanye West weren’t the only artists to move up high on the list of all-time Grammy winners.
Jazz man Chick Corea, whose shelves are already jammed with Grammys, won two more awards, bringing his total to 20. He and Gary Burton won Best Improvised Jazz Solo for “Hot House.” The two men have been collaborators for 40 years. In addition, Corea’s composition “Mozart Goes Dancing” won Best Instrumental Composition.
Pat Metheny also won his 20th Grammy for Unity Band, which he recorded as Pat Metheny Unity Band. It was named Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Yo-Yo Ma won his 17th Grammy for The Goat Rodeo Sessions, which he recorded with Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile. It won as Best Folk Album.
Beyonce won her 17th Grammy for “Love On Top,” which took Best Traditional R&B Performance. Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z now constitute a 33-Grammy household. (Be glad you don’t have to dust them all.)
Jimmy Fallon, the affable host of NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, won Best Comedy Album for Blow Your Pants Off. The Roots, the house band on the NBC show, lost Best Rap Album for Undun (but have won two Grammys in the past).
Ravi Shankar, who died on Dec. 11 at age 92, won for Best World Music Album for The Living Room Sessions Part 1. It’s his fourth Grammy. His award was accepted by his daughter, Anoushka Shankar, who was also nominated in the category with Traveller. Ravi Shankar was also voted a Lifetime Achievement Award this year.
Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars won Best Song Written for Visual Media for their collaboration “Safe & Sound,” which they co-wrote and recorded for the movie The Hunger Games. Both artists won two Grammys (separately) last year. Swift went first in her acceptances, and thanked the Civil Wars. When it was his turn to speak, John Paul White of the Civil Wars quipped, “I think it’s appropriate that Taylor thanks us because we’ve been carrying her for a while now and it’s really getting tiring.”
Drake took Best Rap Album for his sophomore album, Take Care. It’s his first Grammy.
Robert Glasper Experiment took Best R&B Album for Black Radio.
“We Found Love” by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris won as Best Short Form Music Video. The clip also won Video of the Year at the VMAs in September.
Brian Wilson won his second career Grammy for co-producing The Beach Boys’ box set The Smile Sessions, which was voted Best Historical Album. Smile, which the Beach Boys shelved in 1967, has long had mythic status as one of the most famous unreleased albums of all time. Wilson won his first Grammy for a track from 2004’s Brian Wilson Presents Smile.
Billy Vera, who had a #1 hit in 1987 with the soulful ballad “At This Moment,” won Best Album Notes for his work on the Ray Charles collection Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles. In accepting the award, Vera called Charles “the greatest musical performer of the second half of the 20th Century.”
The late Gil Evans won his third Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for his arrangement of Gil Evans Project’s “How About You.” Evans wrote the arrangement in 1947, but this was the first time it was ever used on a recording.
TobyMac’s Eye On It, which entered The Billboard 200 at #1 in September, won for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album. It was the first Christian music album to top the “pop” chart since 1997.
Juanes’ MTV Unplugged Edition won Best Latin Pop Album.
Lecrae’s Gravity won Best Gospel Album.
David Alan Grier hosted the “pre-telecast” ceremony, which was held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. Seventy awards were presented in the pre-telecast portion. Only 11 awards will be presented on tonight’s live broadcast. In recent years, Grammy producers have emphasized live performances, rather than award presentations, on the telecast. As a result, the overwhelming majority of Grammys are presented before the telecast starts.
The “pre-tel” ceremony featured performances from Larry Batiste Orchestra, Krishna Das, the tandem of Tyrese and Elle Varner, eighth blackbird, John Fullbright and Hugh Masekela.
Neil Portnow, the Recording Academy’s President/CEO, said that 754 individuals were nominated for Grammys this year in 81 categories. He also reported that the MusiCares concert/dinner, at which Bruce Springsteen was honored as Person of the Year, raised a record $6.5 million.