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LOS ANGELES The 51st annual Grammys was an all-ages affair ultimately dominated by a rock legend who took up with a younger bluegrass singer on a whim.
The unlikely pairing of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss that produced the hit album Raising Sand won five Grammys on Sunday including album of the year. The former Led Zeppelin frontman, previously best known for his high-decibel shrieking and rock star theatrics, found more docile Nashville melodies with Krauss.
While accepting the Grammy for album of the year, the 37-year-old Krauss perhaps wanting to remind the audience that Plant s rock star hadn t entirely matured said there s never a dull moment with the 60-year-old singer.
Raising Sand, produced by T Bone Burnett, bested fellow nominees Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Coldplay and Radiohead. Their Please Read the Letter also won record of the year.
I m bewildered, said Plant. In the old days we would have called this selling out, but I think it s a good way to spend a Sunday.
In a performance-stuffed live broadcast on CBS, the subject of age and intertwining musical realms was always close at hand.
Taylor Swift, 19, and Miley Cyrus, 16, sang a duet of Swift s Fifteen. The 66-year-old Paul McCartney, with 40-year-old Dave Grohl on drums, sang the Beatles classic about a girl who was just 17.
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Stevie Wonder performed with the Jonas Brothers and even a nine-months pregnant woman the rapper M.I.A. hobbled out on the stage to join the dapperly dressed Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and T.I. in a rap summit performance of T.I. s Swagger Like Us.
Before the night s end, Plant and Krauss seemed to be in a three-horse race with Lil Wayne and Coldplay a trio of acts of wildly different sounds.
Lil Wayne who led the field with eight nominations won three awards, including best rap album for Tha Carter III, for which he literally hopped on stage to receive. (His tally came to four Grammys if you count his inclusion on Swagger Like Us, which won best rap performance by a duo or group.)
Coldplay also took home three awards, including best rock album for Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends.
We ve never had so many Grammys in our life, said lead singer Chris Martin, perhaps so excited he got confused (they had already won four over the years). We feel so grateful to be here. I m going to tear up.
The Grammys this year offered a CBS telecast without a host and unexpectedly without several performers.
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Rihanna and Chris Brown, both nominated for awards and scheduled to perform, were absent after the Los Angeles Police Department announced that Brown who is dating Rihanna was the subject of an investigation into a felony domestic violence battery from around 12:30 a.m. Sunday.
Brown turned himself into police late Sunday and was released after posting bail. Police booked the 19-year-old R&B singer on suspicion of making a criminal threat.
To fill in for Rihanna s scheduled performance, the Recording Academy hastily put together an ensemble of Al Green, Justin Timberlake, Boyz II Men and Keith Urban performing Green s Let s Stay Together.
One of the night s superior performances, it reflected the comments of producer T. Bone Burnett, who explained while accepting the award for record of the year: Good things happen out of nowhere.
Things happen; you have to be nimble, said Recording Academy president Neil Portnow after the show, explaining he didn t know of the absences until Sunday afternoon. We think to ourselves, we ve got the greatest musical talent in the world in the same place at the same time.
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The broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles sometimes had the appearance of a bubble. No mention was made of economic troubles across the country or of the music industry s continuing declining sales. Though download sales are rising, album sales dropped 14 percent last year.
Even the election of Barack Obama was hardly referred to. Following the inauguration and the Super Bowl, it was just about the only major broadcast of late not to feature Bruce Springsteen, whose Girls in Their Summer Clothes won for best rock song.
Besides the expected will.i.am mention of Obama ( congratulations, will.i.am said), Portnow was one of few to mention Obama. He noted musicians had supplied the soundtrack to history and that the new president is, after all, a two-time Grammy winner for his readings of his books.
Such awards, though, never make it into the televised broadcast, which this year included awards for only a dozen of the 110 categories.
Among the unseen awards was a posthumous award for George Carlin in the comedy album category for It s Bad for Ya, a recording of his final HBO comedy special. Al Gore adding to his extensive awards tally won for the audio book of his An Inconvenient Truth.
Instead of focusing on the awards, though, the Recording Academy has increasingly turned the Grammys into an all-star revue, packing the three-and-a-half-hour long show with performance after performance, duet after duet.
Among them: U2 kicking things off with their new single Get on Your Boots ; Lil Wayne and Allen Toussaint paying tribute to New Orleans; Neil Diamond singing Sweet Caroline ; Radiohead performing with the University of Southern California marching band; Jay-Z joining Coldplay; a tribute to the Four Tops; and Jennifer Hudson singing a rousing, touching version of You Pulled Me Through that left her teary-eyed.
Following the Super Bowl, it was Hudson s second major performance since her mother, brother and nephew were killed in October. Hudson s self-titled disc also won best R&B album.
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I first would like to thank God, who has brought me through, she said accepting the award. I would like to thank my family in heaven and those who are with me today.
The Grammys also sought to tap into online traffic with official updates on Twitter and Facebook throughout the broadcast.
There were some oddities in the show, too:
Gwyneth Paltrow introduced not the giant British rock group that her husband, Chris Martin, plays in (Coldplay), but the giant British rock band they have often been compared to (Radiohead). Introducing the Al Green performance, Dwayne The Rock Johnson curiously declared, I live for the Grammys. Katy Perry, again singing her hit I Kissed a Girl, performed a choreographed routine while simultaneously appearing to disdain choreographed routines.
Other notable winners included: Rick Rubin for producer of the year; Adele for best female pop vocal performance ( Chasing Pavements ); Duffy for best pop vocal album ( Rockferry ); Radiohead for best alternative music album ( In Rainbows ); Metallica for best metal performance ( My Apocalypse ); Al Green for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals, and best traditional R&B vocal performance; Daft Punk for best dance recording, and best electronic dance album; George Strait for best country album ( Troubadour ); and B.B. King for best traditional blues album ( One Kind Favor ).
A complete list of winners is available at www.grammy.com.
Following last year s surprise best album winner Herbie Hancock s Joni Mitchell tribute River: The Joni Letters the Grammys have now picked a folk album for best album a year after choosing a jazz record.
Krauss is the most decorated female artist in Grammy history with 26 awards. Burnett has known Grammy glory before, too, most notably as producer of the best-album winning soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Led Zepplin, which was given a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2005, was never otherwise honored by the Recording Academy.
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A complete list of winners at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards.
Album of the Year: Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss; T Bone Burnett, producer; Mike Piersante, engineer/mixer; Gavin Lurssen, mastering engineer (Rounder)
Rap Album: Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne (Cash Money/Universal Motown)
Male Pop Vocal Performance: Say, John Mayer; track from Continuum (Columbia)
Record of the Year: Please Read The Letter, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss; T Bone Burnett, producer; Mike Piersante, engineer/mixer; track from Raising Sand (Rounder)
New Artist: Adele
Rock Album: Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, Coldplay (Capitol)
Pop Collaboration With Vocals: Rich Woman, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, track from Raising Sand (Rounder)
Song of the Year: Viva La Vida, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin, songwriters (Coldplay), track from Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (Capitol Records; Publishers: Universal Music-MGB Songs)
Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: Stay, Sugarland, track from Enjoy the Ride (Mercury)
R&B Album: Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Hudson (Arista)
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Rick Rubin
Producer of the Year, Classical: David Frost
Female Pop Vocal Performance: Chasing Pavements, Adele, track from 19 (Columbia/XL)Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Still Unforgettable, Natalie Cole (DMI)
Pop Vocal Album: Rockferry, Duffy (Mercury)
Pop Instrumental Performance: I Dreamed There Was No War, Eagles, track from Long Road Out of Eden (Eagles Recording Company)
Pop Instrumental Album: Jingle All the Way, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones (Rounder)
Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Viva La Vida, Coldplay, track from Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (Capitol)
Alternative Music Album: In Rainbows, Radiohead (TBD)
Solo Rock Vocal Performance: Gravity, John Mayer, track from Where The Light Is: Live in Los Angeles (Columbia)
Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Sex on Fire, Kings of Leon (RCA)
Hard Rock Performance: Wax Simulacra, The Mars Volta (Universal Motown)
Metal Performance: My Apocalypse, Metallica, track from Death Magnetic (Warner Bros.)
Rock Instrumental Performance: Peaches En Regalia, Zappa Plays Zappa featuring Steve Vai and Napoleon Murphy Brock (Strobosonic/Razor & Tie Entertainment)
Rock Song: Girls in Their Summer Clothes, Bruce Springsteen, songwriter (Bruce Springsteen), track from Magic (Columbia; Publisher: Bruce Springsteen)
Rap Solo Performance: A Milli, Lil Wayne, track from Tha Carter III (Cash Money/Universal Motown)
Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: Swagga Like Us, Jay-Z and T.I. featuring Kanye West and Lil Wayne (Roc-A-Fella/Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
Rap/Sung Collaboration: American Boy, Estelle featuring Kanye West, track from Shine (Homeschool/Atlantic)
Rap Song: Lollipop, Dwayne Carter, Darius Harrison, James Scheffer, Stephen Garrett and Rex Zamor, songwriters (Lil Wayne featuring Static Major), track from Tha Carter III (Cash Money/Universal Motown; Publishers: Young Money Publishing/Warner-Chappell Music, Herbalicious Music/Blackfountain Music/EMI-April Music, JimiPub Music/EMI Blackwood, Three Nails and A Crown Publishing/Roynet Music)
Country Song: Stay, Jennifer Nettles, songwriter (Sugarland), track from Enjoy the Ride (Mercury Records; Publisher: Jennifer Nettles Publishing)
Country Album: Troubadour, George Strait (MCA Nashville)
Female Country Vocal Performance: Last Name, Carrie Underwood, track from Carnival Ride (19/Arista/Arista Nashville)
Male Country Vocal Performance: Letter to Me, Brad Paisley, track from 5th Gear (Arista Nashville)
Country Collaboration with Vocals: Killing the Blues, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, track from Raising Sand (Rounder)
Country Instrumental Performance: Cluster Pluck, Brad Paisley, James Burton, Vince Gill, John Jorgenson, Albert Lee, Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert and Steve Wariner (Arista Nashville)
R&B Song: Miss Independent, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen and Shaffer Smith, songwriters (Ne-Yo), track from Year of the Gentleman (Def Jam/Compound; Publishers: Pen in the Ground Publishing, Universal Music-Z Tunes)
Contemporary R&B Album: Growing Pains, Mary J. Blige (Geffen)
Female R&B Vocal Solo: Superwoman, Alicia Keys, track from As I Am (J)
Male R&B Vocal Solo: Miss Independent, Ne-Yo, track from Year of the Gentleman (Def Jam/Compound)
R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Stay With Me (By the Sea), Al Green featuring John Legend, track from Lay It Down (Blue Note)
Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: You ve Got the Love I Need, Al Green featuring Anthony Hamilton, track from Lay It Down (Blue Note)
Urban/Alternative Performance: Be OK, Chrisette Michele featuring will.i.am, track from I Am (Def Jam)
Dance Recording: Harder Better Faster Stronger, Daft Punk, Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo, producers; Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo, mixers; track from Alive 2007 (Virgin)
Electronic Dance Album: Alive 2007, Daft Punk (Virgin)
Bluegrass Album: Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (Skaggs Family)
Traditional Blues Album: One Kind Favor, B.B. King (Geffen)
Contemporary Blues Album: City That Care Forgot, Dr. John and The Lower 911 (429)
New Age Album: Peace Time, Jack DeJohnette (Golden Beams/Kindred Rhythm)
Contemporary Jazz Album: Randy in Brasil, Randy Brecker (MAMA)
Jazz Vocal Album: Loverly, Cassandra Wilson (Blue Note)
Jazz Instrumental Solo: BE-BOP, Terence Blanchard, soloist; track from Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary All-Stars) (Monterey Jazz Festival)
Jazz Instrumental Album Individual or Group: The New Crystal Silence, Chick Corea and Gary Burton (Concord)
Large Jazz Ensemble Album: Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (Planet Arts Recordings)
Latin Jazz Album: Song for Chico, Arturo O Farrill and The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (Zoho)
Latin Pop Album: La Vida ... Es Un Ratico, Juanes (Universal Music Latino)
Latin Rock or Alternative Album: 45, Jaguares (EMI Music)
Latin Urban Album: Los Extraterrestres, Wisin y Yandel (Machete Music)
Tropical Latin Album: Senor Bachata, Jose Feliciano (Universal Music Latino)
Regional Mexican Album: Amor, Dolor y Lagrimas: Musica Ranchera, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) in a tie with Canciones de Amor, Mariachi Divas (Shea/East Side)
Tejano Album: Viva La Revolucion, Ruben Ramos and The Mexican Revolution (Revolution)
Norteno Album: Raices, Los Tigres Del Norte (Fonovisa)
Banda Album: No Es De Madera Joan Sebastian (Musart/Balboa)
Traditional Folk Album: At 89, Pete Seeger (Appleseed Recordings)
Contemporary Folk/Americana Album: Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (Rounder)
Native American Music Album: Come to Me Great Mystery: Native American Healing Songs, (Various Artists) Tom Wasinger, producer (Silver Wave)
Hawaiian Music Album: Ikena, Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho (Daniel Ho Creations)
Zydeco or Cajun Music Album: Live at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, BeauSoleil and Michael Doucet (MunckMix)
Engineering Album, Classical: Traditions and Transformations: Sounds of Silk Road Chicago, David Frost, Tom Lazarus and Christopher Willis, engineers (Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Alan Gilbert, Silk Road Ensemble, Wu Man, Yo-Yo Ma and Chicago Symphony Orchestra) (CSO Resound)
Reggae Album: Jah Is Real, Burning Spear (Burning Music Production)
Traditional World Music Album: Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Heads Up International)
Contemporary World Music Album: Global Drum Project, Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju and Giovanni Hidalgo (Shout! Factory)
Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: Juno, (Various Artists) Peter Afterman, Jason Reitman and Margaret Yen, producers (Fox Music/Rhino)
Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Television or Other Visual Media: The Dark Knight, James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer, composers (Warner Sunset/Warner Bros.)
Polka Album: Let the Whole World Sing, Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra (Rounder)
Gospel Performance: Get Up, Mary Mary; track from The Sound (Columbia)
Gospel Song: Help Me Believe, Kirk Franklin, songwriter (Kirk Franklin); track from The Fight of My Life (Fo Yo Soul Ent./Zomba Gospel; Publishers: Universal Music-Z Songs/Kerrion Publishing)
Rock or Rap Gospel Album: Alive and Transported, TobyMac (ForeFront Records EMI CMG)
Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album: Thy Kingdom Come, CeCe Winans (PureSprings Gospel/EMI Gospel)
Southern, Country, Bluegrass Gospel: Lovin Life, Gaither Vocal Band (Gaither Music Group)
Traditional Gospel Album: Down in New Orleans, The Blind Boys of Alabama (Time Life)
Contemporary R&B Gospel Album: The Fight of My Life, Kirk Franklin (Fo Yo Soul Entertainment/Zomba Gospel)
Classical Album: Weill: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, James Conlon, conductor; Anthony Dean Griffey, Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald; Fred Vogler, producer (Donnie Ray Albert, John Easterlin, Steven Humes, Mel Ulrich and Robert Worle; Los Angeles Opera Chorus; Los Angeles Opera Orchestra) (EuroArts)
Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: Down to Earth, ( WALL-E ) Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, songwriters (Peter Gabriel) (Walt Disney/Pixar; Publishers: Walt Disney Music, Wonderland Music/Pixar Talking Pictures/Pixar Music)
Musical Show Album: In the Heights, Kurt Deutsch, Alex Lacamoire, Andres Levin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joel Moss and Bill Sherman, producers; Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer/lyricist (Original Broadway Cast with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Others) (Razor & Tie Entertainment/Ghostlight)
Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Story Telling): An Inconvenient Truth (Al Gore), Beau Bridges, Cynthia Nixon and Blair Underwood (Simon & Schuster Audio)
Musical Album for Children: Here Come the 123s, They Might Be Giants (Disney Sound)
Spoken Word Album Children: Yes to Running! Bill Harley Live, Bill Harley (Round River)
Comedy Album: It s Bad for Ya, George Carlin (Eardrum)
Instrumental Composition: The Adventures of Mutt, (from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, John Williams, composer (John Williams), track from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull soundtrack (Concord)
Instrumental Arrangement: Define Dancing, (from WALL-E ) Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, arrangers (Thomas Newman), track from WALL-E soundtrack (Walt Disney)
Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s): Here s That Rainy Day, Nan Schwartz, arranger (Natalie Cole), track from Still Unforgettable (DMI)
Engineered Album, Non-Classical: Consolers of the Lonely, Joe Chiccarelli, Vance Powell and Jack White III, engineers (The Raconteurs) (Third Man/Warner Bros.)
Remixed Recording: Electric Feel (Justice Remix), Justice, remixers (MGMT), Track from: Oracular Spectacular (Columbia)
Surround Sound Album: Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Night on Bald Mountain; Prelude to Khovanshchina, Michael Bishop, surround mix engineer; Michael Bishop, surround mastering engineer; Robert Woods, surround producer (Paavo Jarvi and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra) (Telarc)
Opera Recording: Weill: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, James Conlon, conductor; Anthony Dean Griffey, Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald; Fred Vogler, producer (Donnie Ray Albert, John Easterlin, Steven Humes, Mel Ulrich and Robert Worle; Los Angeles Opera Orchestra; Los Angeles Opera Chorus) (EuroArts)
Orchestral Performance: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4, Bernard Haitink, conductor (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) (CSO Resound)
Choral Performance: Symphony of Psalms, Sir Simon Rattle, conductor; Simon Halsey, chorus master (Berliner Philharmoniker; Rundfunkchor Berlin) track from Stravinsky: Symphonies (EMI Classics)
Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (With Orchestra): Schoenberg/Sibelius: Violin Concertos, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor; Hilary Hahn (Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra) (Deutsche Grammophon)
Instrumental Soloist Performance (Without Orchestra): Piano Music of Salonen, Stucky, and Lutoslawski, Gloria Cheng (Telarc)
Chamber Music Performance: Carter, Elliott: String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5, Pacifica Quartet (Naxos)
Small Ensemble Performance: Spotless Rose: Hymns to the Virgin Mary, Charles Bruffy, conductor; Phoenix Chorale (Chandos)
Classical Vocal Performance: Corigliano: Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan, Hila Plitmann (JoAnn Falletta; Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra) (Naxos)
Classical Contemporary Composition: Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan, John Corigliano (JoAnn Falletta); track from: Corigliano: Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan (Naxos)
Classical Crossover Album: Simple Gifts, The King s Singers (Signum)
Short Form Music Video: Pork and Beans, Weezer, Mathew Cullen, video director; Bernard Rahill, video producder (DGC/Interscope)
Long Form Music Video: Runnin Down a Dream, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Peter Bogdanovich, video director; Skot Bright, video producer (Warner Bros.)
Recording Package: Death Magnetic, Bruce Duckworth, Sarah Moffat and David Turner, art directors (Metallica) (Warner Bros.)
Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: In Rainbows, Stanley Donwood, Mel Maxwell and Christiaan Munro, art directors (Radiohead)
Album Notes: Kind of Blue: 50th Anniversary Collector s Edition, Francis Davis, album notes writer (Miles Davis) (Columbia/Legacy Recordings)
Historical Album: Art of Field Recording Volume I: Fifty Years of Traditional American Music Documented by Art Rosenbaum, Steven Lance Ledbetter and Art Rosenbaum, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineering (Various Artists) (Dust-to-Digital)34.05349 -118.2453