In both spirit and the flesh, this was ladies night.
With the memory of six-time winner Whitney Houston an inescapable presence in the room at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, Adele punctuated her triumphant comeback from throat surgery with her own six Grammys, including Album, Record and Song of the Year.
"Oh my God...thank you so much, thank you! Hello!" trilled the delighted songbird, who was awash in happy tears as she ascended the stage to receive the night's top honor for the competition-obliterating 21.
"Mum, I love you, I'm so sorry you're not here. A big thank you to Rick Rubin, who taught me about quality control and made me realize stuff I never thought I would...This record is inspired by something really normal and everyone's been through it—that's a rubbish relationship. I can't tell you how I feel about it, it's been the most life-changing year."
"Oh, got a bit of snot," the irreverent 23-year-old cracked as she continued to thank her friends, colleagues and loved ones.
"I should take my shoes off really, I'm too tall," she quipped early on, accepting for Best Pop Solo Performance for "Someone Like You." "Thank you so much, I'm getting emotional already...My life changed when I wrote this song and I felt it, before anyone heard it. Seeing as how it's a vocal performance I need to thank my doctors, I suppose, for bringing my voice back."
With Adele winning the night's top honor (as everyone expected), the Foo Fighters couldn't go six for six—but winning five out of six was nothing to be ashamed of.
The life-and-death-themed Wasting Light was named Best Rock Album, "Walk" scored them Best Rock Performance and Rock Song, "White Limo" was Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance and they won Best Long-Form Video for "Back and Forth."
Bon Iver, the indie-folk moniker taken by Justin Vernon and his various bandmates over the years (all of whom he thanked), took the prestigious Best New Artist prize—and somehow lived to talk about it.
"Hi," Vernon, already a winner for Best Alternative Music Album, began tentatively. "It's really hard to accept this award." (And not, mind you, because Bon Iver has been alt-rocking since 2007.)
"There's so much talent out here, on this stage," he continued, "and there's a lot of talent that's not here...When I started to make songs, I did it for the inherent reward of making songs, so I'm a little uncomfortable up here. But with that discomfort I do have a sense of gratitude, and I want to say thank you to all the nominees, all the non-nominees that have never been here and never will be here, all the bands I toured with, the bands that inspired me, all the artists. I also want to say...sorry. Thank you to the voters—sweet hookup. All my bandmates, old and new, the city of Au Claire, Wisconsin. Jagjaguwar, my label, for both having transparency and friendship. My friends and family...and, most of all, my parents."
Yup, that should do it.
And maybe Kanye West, whose lack of a nomination for Album of the Year was considered a major snub, is just tired of getting only so close to the top prize. He didn't show, but he won four Grammys, including Best Rap Album for the critically adored My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. West also shared best Rap Performance with a similarly absent Jay-Z for "Otis," off of the collaborative Watch the Throne.
Rihanna shared in West's Best Rap/Sung Collaboration win for "All of the Lights" and turned in a knockout performance of "Love in a Hopeless Place," "Princess From China" and "Paradise" with Coldplay (0-for-3—sorry, mates).
In the same breath, let's note that Chris Brown, absent from the Grammys for, er, various reasons the last two years, performed and came away a first-time winner tonight—Best R&B Album for Fame.
Lady Antebellum, Grammy darlings last year, added to their career tally with their second straight Best Country Album win, this time for Own the Night.
Bon Iver's self-titled effort, containing the Record and Song of the Year candidate "Holocene," was named Best Alternative Music Album—good for the Justin Vernon-fronted folkies! Have a good rest of your winter, gentlemen.
Also among the notable wins (and losses):
•Amy Winehouse posthumously added to her Grammy total with her and Tony Bennett's rendition of "Body and Soul" being named Best Pop Duo or Group Performance. Bennett also won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Duets II to bring his lifetime Grammy total to 16.
• Louie star Louis C.K. scored Best Comedy Album for the aptly titled Hilarious and the unstoppable Betty White was a winner for Best Spoken Word Album for her reading of her memoir If You Ask Me (and Of Course You Won't).
• The King's Speech finally capped off its epic reign with a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media—a pinky-raising category if there ever was one! Tonight, it's pronounced "meedj-ya."
• Who cares if Mad Men won the Emmy? Boardwalk Empire won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack.
• Dubstep maestro Skrillex wasn't Best New Artist, but he's still a three-time Grammy winner, collecting trophies for Best Dance Recording, Dance/Electronica Album and Remixed Recording.