Indie darlings Arcade Fire pulled of a remarkable underdog Grammy win last night, edging out heavy hitters Lady Gaga, Eminem, Lady Antebellum and Katy Perry for Album of the Year.
“What the hell,” exclaimed frontman Win Butler as the shocked group made its way to the stage from the pit, just moments after their blistering performance of The Suburbs track “Month of May.”
The win for Album of the Year concludes an incredible run for the Montreal band, who saw their album debut at the top of the Billboard chart (a spectacular feat for a band on an independent label), headlined Lollapalooza and sold out Madison Square Garden.
After thanking fans in both English and French, Butler announced, “We’re going to play another song because we like music.” Grinning ear to ear, Butler placed the Grammy trophy on top of an amp and then closed out the show with “Ready to Start.”
The 53rd Grammy Awards show was full of surprises, including an energetic and sharp Solomon Burke tribute (watch below) by Mick Jagger and Raphael Saadiq (rocking a Fender Custom Strat), an unannounced Dolly Parton tribute by John Mayer, Keith Urban and Nora Jones, and Esperanza Spalding’s stunning Best New Artist victory. The 26-year old bassist bested fellow nominees Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence + the Machine, and Mumford & Sons to become the first-ever jazz musician to win the Best New Artist category.
“I feel really lucky that I got to be acknowledged on this stage in front of so many people who hopefully will get to experience my music, and I got there by doing what’s really dear to my heart,” said Spalding backstage after her win.
Although hip-hop star Eminem was expected to dominate the show with a leading 10 nominations, the rapper picked up only two awards. Instead, country trio Lady Antebellum ruled the evening, racking up five trophies including Song and Record of the Year.
The star-studded affair kicked off with a lengthy tribute to Aretha Franklin by powerhouse vocalists Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Florence Welch and gospel singer Yolanda Adams.
The ladies also handed out the first award of the evening for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with vocals, which went to Train for hit-song “Hey, Soul Sister.”
Fender signature artist Jeff Beck tallied three Grammys, collecting trophies for Best Pop Instrumental Performance with “Nessun Dorma,” Best Rock Instrumental Performance with “Hammerhead,” and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for his contribution to the Herbie Hancock project “Imagine.”
Hard to believe it hasn’t happened before now, but the legendary Neil Young notched his first-ever Grammy win for Best Rock Song with “Angry World.”
“This is my first Grammy for music and it’s appreciated greatly,” he said in his acceptance speech. “I’m not nervous, but I’m close.”
British heavy metal legends Iron Maiden also picked up their first win, taking home a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for their song “El Dorado.”
The young and talented Fender artist Bruno Mars also earned his first Grammy, picking up a trophy for the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for single “Just the Way You Are.” The 25-year old musician’s versatility was on display during his Grammy performance with B.o.B and Janelle Monáe. Mars started out on keyboard for “Nothin’ on You,” transformed his pop-hit “Grenade” into a doo-wop throwback, and then finished off the set behind the drums for Monáe’s “Cold War.” Watch it here.
Other enjoyable collaborations included the acoustic tribute by Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers and the legendary Bob Dylan, and at the other end of the spectrum, a hip-hop/rap fest featuring Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Rihanna, Eminem, Skylar Gray and Dr. Dre.
Click here to view AP‘s highlight video package.