If you were hoping for an Eminem win...blame Canada.
Montreal alt-rockers Arcade Fire pulled a stunner of an upset in winning Album of the Year for The Suburbs, the band's best-selling release to date, though nowhere near the numbers that its competition like Teenage Dream, The Fame Monster and Recovery achieved.
"I want to say thank you to Montreal, Quebec, for taking us and giving us a place to be in a band. Holy s--t!" said lead singer Win Butler, who heads up the vastly entertaining group with wife Régine Chassagne.
Well, isn't the Recording Academy just full of surprises!
In the less-shocking portion of the evening, Lady Antebellum was the most-winning act of the night with five Grammys, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Country Album, Country Song and Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals, all for three little words: "Need You Now."
The Academy also reached outside the Top 40 genre to name jazz singer and multi-instrumentalist Esperanza Spalding Best New Artist, the first jazz artist to ever win the title. She topped British upstarts Florence + the Machine and Mumford & Sons, Drake (he's still new?) and someone named Justin Bieber, who lip-synced performed with Usher and Jaden Smith but went home empty-handed.
Newly hatched Lady Gaga traded meat for thick black leather to accept Best Pop Vocal Album for The Fame Monster, her other two wins, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Short-Form Music Video for "Bad Romance," coming earlier in the day in the untelevised portion of the ceremony.
Gaga's relatively tame performance of "Born This Way" occurred quite early, paving the way for Cee Lo Green to assume her usual role of artist-dressed-in-plumage sitting at a piano. Decked out like Elmo wearing a peacock costume, Green tickled the ivories, while three sassy girl-group Muppets and Gwyneth Paltrow joined him for "Forget You."
Along with Gaga, other threepeaters included Jay-Z, John Legend and guitar legend Jeff Beck. Usher won two and Bruno Mars won his sole Grammy for Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Nothin' on You," despite having seven noms thanks to his production and writing collaborations.
Eminem, who originally towered over the field with 10 nominations, had to settle for only two wins, Best Rap Album for Recovery and Best Rap Performance for "Not Afraid."
"OK, this is crazy," he said in accepting his album award, never once losing the look of an angry paranoiac who thought someone was going to shoot him instead of hand him a Grammy. Even when he thanked the fans and gave love to Rihanna, his mentor Dr. Dre, everyone who played a role in the album and his native Detroit—still, that look.
Of course, maybe he was just annoyed that the Grammys had gone country.
Tip of the hat to Christina Aguilera, who wasn't up for any awards tonight, but who nailed the words to "Natural Woman" during the Aretha Franklin tribute, which opened the show.
And though she wasn't a winner, the tribute still marked a triumphant Grammy debut for Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine, the British siren taking lead on "Freedom." Next stop, Oscars!
Elsewhere among the British invasion, Muse topped the classic acts of Neil Young, Jeff Beck, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Pearl Jam (Ten was 20 years ago, people) to win Best Rock Album for The Resistance. In his acceptance speech, frontman Matthew Bellamy finally acknowledged in public that he's expecting a child with Kate Hudson.
"I'd like to give out a special thanks to my beautiful pregnant girlfriend over there," he said sweetly, if somewhat embarrassedly.
Other points of interest:
• Neil Young won his first ever music-specific Grammy during the nontelevised portion of the ceremony, Best Rock Song for "Angry World." (Young's lone previous award came last year for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package for his Archives Vol. I retrospective.)
• Mick Jagger and the Arcade Fire both made their Grammy performance debuts, despite the fact that Jagger's been around (and, in some circles, is still considered a hot young thang) since the '60s. But the Rolling Stones didn't even win their first competition Grammy until 1994's Voodoo Lounge was Best Rock Album, eight years after the band was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.
• Jon Stewart and his Daily Show cohorts picked up their second Spoken Word trophy, this one for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Audiobook).
• Madonna snuck a Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical, Grammy for Revolver (David Guetta's One Love Club Remix).
• The 2011 Oscars are two weeks away, but last year's Crazy Heart is still winning awards, Best Compilation Soundtrack Album (beating, among others, Glee) and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, TV or Other Visual Media for Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett's "The Weary Kind."
• It was only halfway through the broadcast, but the Bob Dylan-Mumford & Sons-Avett Brothers jam was the showstopper of the night.
"Thanks, Justin Bieber, for not being a duo or group," joked Train frontman Pat Monahan as their live version of "Hey, Soul Sister" won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group, the first award handed out on TV.
Good thing they were first because, by the end of the night, that joke would have been irrelevant.
But for Arcade Fire, who got to close out the show, the lyrics to "Ready to Start" never sounded so good.