Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” won the final Grammy Award Sunday night for album of the year in a show that saw The Black Keys and Fun. win in other major categories.
Band member Marcus Mumford seemed as shocked by the win as many in the audience, who likely thought the award would go to one of the category’s other nominees: The Black Keys, Fun., Frank Ocean or Jack White.
“We figured we weren’t going to win anything, because The Black Keys have been sweeping up all day, and deservedly so,” he said.
The Black Keys took home the best rock performance and rock song awards for “Lonely Boy,” which they’d later play on the Grammy stage with Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. They also won the best rock album award (“El Camino”), and that album’s producer, Dan Auerbach, snagged the producer of the year award in the non-classical category.
The band Fun. grabbed Grammys for song of the year (“We Are Young”) and best new artist. “I don’t know what I was thinking writing the chorus of [‘We Are Young’],” said the band’s lead singer, Nate Ruess, during his first acceptance speech. “If this is in HD, everybody can see our faces, and we are not very young.”
Jeff Bhasker, who produced “We Are Young” and joined Fun. onstage for their first Grammy win of the broadcast, thanked celebrity audience members he spotted, including Jay-Z, who shouted back from the crowd, “You’re welcome!”
Jay-Z won the Grammy for best rap/sung collaboration for “No Church in the Wild” with Kanye West, Frank Ocean and The-Dream. After Ocean and The-Dream delivered acceptance speeches, Jay-Z gestured toward The-Dream and joked, “I would like to thank the swap meet for his hat.” Before the show, Jay-Z snagged two more Grammys. “N---s in Paris,” one of his collaborations with Kanye West, won for best rap performance and best rap song.
Jay-Z earlier joined Justin Timberlake on stage for one of the night’s most buzzworthy performances, collaborating on their new hit, “Suit and Tie.” Introducing the song were Ellen DeGeneres and Beyoncé, the latter of whom won a Grammy — her 17th overall — for best traditional R&B performance ("Love on Top”).
Gotye won record of the year for “Somebody That I Used to Know,” his duet with Kimbra. Presenting the award was Prince, who handed the Grammy over to Gotye after declaring that he loved the winning song.
“Little bit lost for words to receive an award from the man [Prince] standing behind us here with the cane,” Gotye said while Kimbra stood beside him. “Many years listening to this man’s music, growing up, and a big reason I was inspired to make music.”
In one of the night’s most intriguing moments, Frank Ocean defeated Miguel and recent rival Chris Brown in the urban contemporary album category, winning the award for “Channel Orange.” Brown applauded Ocean’s win as Ocean walked to the stage to accept. During his acceptance speech, Ocean did not reference the parking-space altercation he’d had with Brown two weeks earlier, instead focusing on the audience and his supporters. Ocean later performed “Forrest Gump” on the Grammy stage.
“American Idol” stars fared well, with Kelly Clarkson winning the Grammy for best pop vocal album, and Carrie Underwood snagging a trophy for best country solo performance for “Blown Away.” Clarkson later sang a tribute to Patti Page and Carole King, and presented the best country album award to Zac Brown Band for “Uncaged.” Underwood followed that with a medley of her songs, “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs.”
Adele took home the first award of the broadcast for pop solo performance for her live performances of “Set Fire to the Rain.”
One of the best performances of the night belonged to Bruno Mars, Sting and Rihanna, who helped lead a rousing tribute to reggae icon Bob Marley with a medley that included Mars’ “Locked out of Heaven,” the Police’s “Walking on the Moon” and Marley’s “Could You Be Loved.” Their performance had the Grammy crowd on its feet, with everyone from Taylor Swift to Pharrell Williams dancing to the beat.
Swift, who opened the Grammys with a performance of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," won a Grammy for “Safe & Sound” for best song written for visual media, sharing the trophy with the Civil Wars and T Bone Burnett. The song had also been nominated for best country duo/group performance, but that award went to Little Big Town’s “Pontoon.”
Serving as the night’s host, LL Cool J took a moment to honor Bronxville native and Mount Vernon-raised Dick Clark early in the program after the broadcast showed a clip of him with the “American Bandstand” host. The ceremony's memorial montage included photos of Clark, along with Woodstock’s Levon Helm, former Bard College student Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys, Dave Brubeck, Robin Gibb, Donna Summer, Andy Williams, Patti Page, Davy Jones, Andy Griffith, Jenni Rivera and Ravi Shankar, among many others. It was followed by an all-star tribute to Helm, The Band singer and drummer who died in April.
“As we commemorate the passing of these great men and women who gave us such great music, we also remember the teachers and the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School, whose songs, unfortunately, ended too soon,” Elton John said during the song’s intro. He then joined Zac Brown, T Bone Burnett, Mavis Staples, Mumford & Sons and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes in delivering a down-home, soulful version of The Band’s “The Weight.”
To close the show, LL Cool J shouted out Yauch during his own performance. “Beastie Boys!” the host shouted. “MCA forever!”
Other Grammy highlights with Hudson Valley connections:
-“Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon, who grew up in Saugerties, won the Best Comedy Album category for "Blow Your Pants Off," beating out Jim Gaffigan, Margaret Cho, Kathy Griffin and Lewis Black in the process. His “Late Night” house band, the Roots, weren’t as fortunate, as their latest album, “Undun,” lost to Drake’s “Take Care” in the best rap album category.
-Björk, who has called Palisades home, watched the team behind her 2011 album "Biophilia” pick up a Grammy for best recording package, but lost the best alternative music album category to Gotye’s “Making Mirrors.”
-“Once” won for best musical theater album, topping four other nominees that included “Newsies” (for which New Rochelle native Alan Menken earned his 11th overall Grammy nomination) and "Nice Work If You Can Get It” (featuring Westchester's Kelli O'Hara as a principal soloist).
-Former President Bill Clinton, of Chappaqua, was nominated for best spoken word album for "Back to Work,” but lost to Janis Ian (“Society’s Child: My Autobiography”).
-Even the commercials got into the act with local stars, with ads featuring Beyoncé and Ingrid Michaelson — the latter of whom once worked at the Hudson Valley Children’s Museum in Nyack.