Grammys 2012: Adele’s ‘21’ wins album of the year
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Soul traditionalist Adele triumphed over pop stars, a veteran rock act and an up-and-coming songwriter/producer to win the most prestigious Grammy prize, album of the year, for her ’21.’ It was her sixth award out of six nominations, a clean sweep. The heavy front-runner, Adele shocked no one in taking the top honor at the 54th Grammy Awards.
Her ’21' was championed by critics and embraced by fans, as it was the top-selling album of 2011 and hasn’t left the top 10 on the U.S. pop charts since its release last February.
Adele, who was named best new artist at the 2009 ceremony, underwent vocal surgery in November and was forced to cancel her U.S. tour. Tonight’s Grammys marked her return to the stage, and her album of the year win signaled that Grammy voters will opt for songcraft, raw emotion and a dazzling voice over pop trends or guitar slingers. She bested the performance-art pop of Lady Gaga, singles machine Rihanna, pop/R&B handyman Bruno Mars and alt-rock survivors Foo Fighters.
The substance-over-style singer was the heavy favorite heading into the awards. Her ’21' was the top-selling album of 2011, with a final tally of 5.82 million copies moved during the year. Meanwhile, her hit single ‘Rolling in the Deep’ was the year’s bestselling cut with 5.81 million copies. Both numbers are taken from Nielsen SoundScan’s year-end data. Critics also flocked to the artist, as the album came in at No. 6 in the Village Voice’s annual Pazz and Jop poll of the nation’s critics.
Adele fits in nicely with a number of prior album of the year winners. Though dramatic indie rock act Arcade Fire took the honors last year for its album ‘The Suburbs’ and country-pop upstart Taylor Swift won in 2010 for her ‘Fearless,’ recent winners have included a number of roots-leaning acts. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss took top honors in 2009 for ‘Raising Sand,’ Herbie Hancock upset Kanye West in 2008 with his ‘River: The Joni Letters’ and the Dixie Chicks took the prize in 2007 with ‘Taking the Long Way.’
Adele’s biggest challenger in the field was likely Mars, who honed his chops producing and writing for other artists and was nominated for his solo debut, ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans.’ Among the songs Mars has had a hand in co-writing or producing are Cee-Lo’s ‘Forget You,’ B.o.B.'s ‘Nothin’ on You’ and Travie McCoy’s ‘Billionaire,’ among many others (he’s a part of hot production team the Smeezingtons). Mars’ ‘Just the Way You Are’ won male pop vocal performance at the 2011 Grammys.
With ‘Born This Way,’ Lady Gaga had earned her third nomination for album of the year. She had competed with Arcade Fire last year for her ‘The Fame Monster,’ which won for female pop vocal album, and had previously been nominated for ‘The Fame.’
Heading into the 2012 ceremony, Foo Fighters had never won outside the rock field. Last year’s ‘Wasting Light,’ however, did earn the act its second album of the year nomination, as ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’ competed in 2008. Rihanna’s ‘Loud’ was the artist’s first album of the year nomination.
The Grammys are determined by about 13,000 voting members. The eligibility period for nominated recordings was Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2011. The ceremony is being held at Staples Center and telecast on CBS. It is broadcast live except for viewers on the West Coast. The latest headlines and any breaking news will be posted here on Pop & Hiss.
[For the Record, 9:03 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said Lady Gaga earned her second album of the year nomination with ‘Born This Way.’ It was her third.]
— Todd Martens