(Clockwise from left) Host LL Cool J pays tribute to Whitney Houston at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles where Adele, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen performed. (AFP, Reuters)
Los Angeles, Feb. 13: The Grammy Awards yesterday appeared to crown a new queen of popular music in Adele, the British singer and songwriter who has dominated the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with her classic soul sound, as the music industry struggled to come to terms with the death of Whitney Houston the night before.
The 23-year-old singer and songwriter, whose raw vocals and searing lyrics made 21 the best-selling album last year, captured six awards, sweeping record, song and album of the year. She seemed to be a perfect champion for a beleaguered record industry: a pure, no-frills singer able to fuse heartbreak and melody and sell millions of records without outlandish costumes or titillating lyrics.
Wearing a simple black dress and classy earrings, Adele sang for the first time since vocal cord surgery forced her to cancel a tour last year. Her voice soared on her global hit Rolling in the Deep, and the crowd at the Staples Center here gave her a standing ovation.
But Adele had to share the spotlight with Foo Fighters, who captured five awards, and with the memory of Whitney Houston, whose death hung over the proceedings. The host of the show, LL Cool J, began the broadcast by asking the audience to join him in a prayer for Houston, and later Jennifer Hudson did a touching rendition of Houstons hit I Will Always Love You.
Dave Grohls Foo Fighters received five awards for the album Wasting Light and for one of its tracks, Walk. The album, which was the first No. 1 album for Foo Fighters, was recorded on analogue equipment in a garage and was in the running for album of the year. We made this one in my garage with some microphones and a tape machine, Grohl said as the group accepted the Grammy for best rock performance. It shows the human element of making music is whats most important.
In a surprise, Skrillex, the 24-year-old dubstep producer whose Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites record was an unexpected hit, won three awards during the pre-broadcast ceremony: for best dance recording, best dance-electronica album and best remixed recording.
I cant take this anymore, Skrillex said as he accepted his third award. I dont know what else to say anymore. This is the most surreal day of my life.
Kanye West was also a top winner, taking home four Grammys for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which won best rap album, and its lead single, All of the Lights, honoured for best rap song and best rap-sung collaboration. West also took best rap performance for Otis, a duet with Jay-Z off Watch the Throne that samples an Otis Redding hit.
The awards for best alternative album and for best new artist went to Bon Iver, the indie band specialising in artsy choir-sounding songs that is the brainchild of the songwriter Justin Vernon. Vernon, who declined to perform, said: When I started to make songs I did it for the inherent reward of making songs, so Im a little bit uncomfortable up here.
Some major pop stars walked away emptyhanded as the music industry seemed to reward back-to-basics artists. Bruno Mars had six nominations and gave a performance, but won nothing. Lady Gaga also failed to win.
Houstons death — she was found dead in a bathtub at a hotel where a pre-Grammy party was held — cast a shadow over musics biggest night.
Tonight we ask ourselves how do we speak to this time, to this day? the host LL Cool J said at the shows start. There is no way around this: We have had a death in our family.
Then a video of Houston in her prime, singing her hit I Will Always Love You, played on a giant screen. The audience rose to applaud afterwards.