Beyoncé Knowles and Sasha Fierce almost proved to be an unbeatable team.
The 28-year-old diva collected a field-dominating, record-setting six Grammys tonight, but it was 20-year-old Taylor Swift who was standing tallest at the end of the night, her 5 million-selling Fearless a winner for Album of the Year.
"When we're 80 years old and we're telling the same stories over and over to our grandkids and they're so annoyed with us, this is the story we're going to be telling over and over again," she said. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Swift, who entered the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards with a whopping eight nominations, made it out with four wins overall, including Best Country Album and Best Female Vocal Country Performance and Best Country Song, both for "White Horse."
Knowles, who came into the night with 10 nominations, set a record for female artists with her half-dozen wins. She had previously been tied with Amy Winehouse, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones and Alison Krauss, each of whom had tallied five Grammys in one ceremony.
"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" earned three pieces of hardware—Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song—while Knowles' presidential inauguration-approved rendition of "At Last" earned her Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance honors, and "Halo" was the top Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Kings of Leon dimmed "Halo's" glow just a bit, stealing away Record of the Year for "Use Somebody," which also earned the Nashville-rooted band Best Rock Song and Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals.
The family-based rockers also won the award for best acceptance speech, with lead singer Caleb Fallowill declaring to the world: "I'm not going to lie, we're all a little drunk. But we're happy drunks."
The "Run This Town" trio of Jay-Z, Kanye West and Rihanna were two-time winners, collecting gramophones for Best Rap Song and Rap/Sung Collaboration (for which Jay-Z beat out his missus, who shared a nomination for "Ego" with West).
It was a triumphant return to the Grammys for Rihanna, who was recovering from Chris Brown's attack last year, and an unfortunate missed opportunity for West, who opted to skip the show this year after his rough (PR-wise) '09.
But as you all know, the Recording Academy hands out more than 100 Grammys overall, but only nine were handed out in prime-time so that the majority of the attention could be paid to the live performances.
And oh, the performances...
Perhaps the most anticipated number was the 3-D tribute to Michael Jackson, featuring Céline Dion, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Usher and Smokey Robinson singing "Earth Song," which was supposed to be a centerpiece of the late King of Pop's This Is It tour last summer.
The quintet came through with flying colors, though the sheer number of awards-show tributes to Jackson, including the one Janet Jackson presided over at the 2009 MTV VMAs, dimmed the uniqueness of this one. But as expected, Jackson's eldest children, Prince Michael and Paris, took the stage afterward to thank their dad's fans, which added another appreciated touch of humanity to the pop icon's layered legacy.
But such touching moments seemed to take a backseat to the razzle-dazzle throughout the show.
Lady Gaga immediately shed her gravity-defying red carpet number to don a sparkly green unitard and get onstage to kick off the show. The snippet of "Poker Face" was good, but then she made Elton John's "Your Song" her own when she paired "Speechless" with the Rocket Man's tune, the two of them putting the hurt on opposing pianos.
Say what you will about her pantsless lifestyle: The Lady can sing.
Other estimable pairings included Swift and Stevie Nicks; Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli, whose "Bridge Over Troubled Water" duet will be available on iTunes for Haiti relief; T-Pain, Slash and Jamie Foxx; and Eminem, Lil Wayne and Drake, backed by Travis Barker on drums, who brought down the house with a rollicking show-closing, bleep-filled performance.
Alanis Morissette wasn't there, but a très fierce Beyoncé seamlessly slipped "You Oughta Know" into her thumping rendition of "If I Were Boy." (Jay-Z led the enthusiastic standing O.)
Pink was part chanteuse, part human sprinkler as she took to the stage (and the air above) to sing "Glitter in the Air," wearing nothing but a flesh-colored body stocking with a few strategically placed sequins and ribbons as she was hoisted Cirque du Soleil-style above the crowd.
Cradled in white bunting, Pink spent a whole minute singing while spinning around and around and...And then, by the power of production tricks, she ended up soaked and spraying water every which way.
Green Day, whose latest politically charged opus, 21st Century Breakdown, was named Best Rock Album, turned in one of the less flashy performances when they teamed with the cast of the Broadway-bound American Idiot on "21 Guns." The Dave Matthews Band did their usual mellow, jam-band thing on "You and Me."
But the Black Eyed Peas (three-time winners for Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals, Pop Vocal Album for The End and Short Form Music Video) had energy to spare.
Their "I Got a Feeling" light show may have caused seizures, but their futuristic black and silver military garb looked really cool.
And while he didn't sing, an honorable mention goes to Stephen Colbert, the night's first presenter and a first-time Grammy winner, for Best Comedy Album, for A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All.
"Have a good time, honey," he told his teenage daughter sitting in the audience. "Stay away from Katy Perry."
Robert Downey Jr. was also an inspired choice to introduce Foxx and T-Pain's performance of "Blame It." (That's "blame it on the alcohol.") The tune also won the pair a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals.
"Thank God I'm here to bring dignity and classical flair to this evening's otherwise gauche festivities," the Sherlock Holmes star grandstanded, his intentionally inflated ego continuing to serve him well this awards season.
Check out some of tonight's most memorable moments in our 2010 Grammys: Big Moments From the Show gallery.