Resilient youth was served at the 55th annual
Sunday, with relative newcomers such as Mumford & Sons, fun. and Gotye sweeping the major awards.
But fun. didn't go away empty-handed, nailing two major honors: best new artist and song of the year for "We Are Young." In accepting the awards, the band reflected on its long climb to recognition over more than a decade. "But we're old," they cracked.
Australian artist Gotye won three awards after a decade of obscurity, and his humbleness resonated. Even as he accepted record of the year for "Somebody That I Used to Know," he first thanked and lavished praise on his presenter, Prince.
Also collecting three awards were
A long speech by host
But there were redemptive moments, not the least of which was a massive sing-along version of The Band’s “The Weight,” in honor of drummer Levon Helm, who died last year. The song was perfectly suited for passing the vocals, with the Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and
And now for a few of our own award winners from the night's nationally televised performances, speeches and other tomfoolery:
The saints go marching in:
What, no explosions? Face it, everyone was waiting for something to blow up, a bunch of dancers in bondage gear to come strutting into view, or something equally outrageous in the middle of Rihanna's performance. Instead the singer actually sang, and the intimacy of "Stay" made it among the night's best and most refreshingly glitz-free performances.
Revenge of the nerds: Though fun. often comes across as just another bland pop-rock band in the tradition of Train, matchbox20 and Hootie and the Blowfish, at least they have a self-deprecating sense of humor. In winning song of the year for "We are Young" over some strong competition, fun. singer Nate Ruess acknowledged, "We are not very young" and guitarist Jack Antonoff thanked "our families" who "let us live at home" for 12 years.
Best promotional plug:
Least likely acid head:
Country time machine: Last year it was electronic dance music, so this year the
Soul lives: Dapper Miguel, on bended kneed, crooned “Adore,” even with the distraction of
Black Keys, Skrillez win big early awards
The vast majority of the 81 awards were handed out before the television broadcast, and included some memorable moments:
Skrillex in accepting an award for his electronic-dance-music single and album, both titled "Bangarang": "Thanks for letting us do it the weird way."
Among the best performances of the night was one that only the on-line audience witnessed, by the Chicago new-classical ensemble eighth blackbird: fierce, twisted, and definitely worthy of investigation by fans of avant-rock bands such as
Gotye, who won an award not only for his ubiquitous “Somebody That I Used to Know” single, but also for his far-less celebrated “Making Mirrors” album in the alternative category, beating out
Josh Smith of hard-rock/metal winners Halestorm: "Most parents want their kids to be doctors and lawyers. Our parents encouraged us to join the circus."