A whole lotta fun. at the Grammys
LOS ANGELES — Talk about having fun at the Grammy Awards.
Fun. won two major awards midway through the Sunday night’s telecast, winning song of the year for the transcendent anthem “We Are Young,” featuring Janelle Monae, and best new artist in something of an upset over Frank Ocean.
“I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote the chorus to this song,” lead singer Nate Ruess, 30, joked. “This is in HD, everyone can see our faces, and we are not very young.”
Fun.’s run — and a surprising victory by Gotye for record of the year — took some of the luster off Ocean’s evening, but there’s no question all eyes were on him as he won two awards and blew up Twitter. Only Chris Brown, with whom Ocean scuffled last month, remained seated as the 25-year-old R&B winner walked to the stage during a standing ovation. Ocean beat Brown, who attended with girlfriend Rihanna, for the urban contemporary album award that both were nominated for.
Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys appeared headed to an overall win on music’s biggest night with four wins, including producer of the year.
Gotye, Jay-Z and Kanye West had three wins — sharing one award with Ocean — along with Skrillex, and a slew of nominees had two wins apiece, including former best new artist winner Esperanza Spalding.
“We Are Young” helped fun. earn a starring role at these Grammys with nominations in all four major categories after the release of their first album, matched only by Christopher Cross in 1981, and six overall. The band turned in a powerful early performance of “Carry On” as a downpour on stage began mid-song and guitarist Jack Antonoff got a kiss from girlfriend “Girls” creator Lena Dunham after winning.
But Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” featuring Kimbra, was 2012’s top-selling song and just as omnipresent. He also won best alternative album for “Making Mirrors” and best pop/duo performance for “Somebody.” Prince presented him with the record of the year trophy and the Australian paid tribute to The Purple One’s influence.
Auerbach took the early lead thanks to a strong run in the pre-telecast awards show and had only lost once midway through the night.
His Black Keys took best rock performance for “Lonely Boy” during the main telecast and earlier in the day won best rock song for “Lonely Boy” and best rock album for “El Camino” with bandmate Patrick Carney, and Auerbach was named producer of the year. He also got an assist — but no trophy — on Dr. John’s best blues album “Locked Down,” which he produced.
Ocean won best urban contemporary album for “channel ORANGE” and best rap/sung collaboration for “No Church in the Wild” with fellow top nominees Jay-Z and West, and The-Dream. The win came after victories for Jay-Z and West for best rap song and best rap performance for “... in Paris,” another “Watch the Throne” track.
Other winners included Rihanna, Beyonce, Mumford & Sons and Taylor Swift, who opened the show as the Mad Hatter. Swift dressed in white top hat, tails, shorts and tall boots during the surreal version of her hummable hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” that included a troop of mime clowns and a guy on a tricycle with a flame-thrower attached.
The singer pretended to talk to the offending boyfriend on the phone: “I’m busy opening the Grammys and we’re never getting back together.”
Justin Timberlake debuted new tracks “Suit & Tie” with Jay-Z and “Pusher Love” in a performance that was broadcast in retro black and white. Rihanna and the extended Marley family paid tribute to Bob Marley. Sting and Bruno Mars helped each other out on their hits “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Walking on the Moon.” Elton John and Ed Sheeran teamed on “The A Team” and Miguel and Wiz Khalifa joined forces teamed up on “Adorn.” Alicia Keys played drums during Maroon 5’s “Daylight,” before Adam Levine’s band backed her on “Girl on Fire.”
Adele won the first award of the night on the main telecast, taking home best pop solo performance for “Set Fire to the Rain (Live),” in one of the night’s least-surprising moments — though the singer was somewhat taken aback.
“I just wanted to be part of the night, because I loved it last year, obviously,” she said of winning a record-tying six awards in 2012.
Carrie Underwood won best country solo performance for “Blown Away,” Zac Brown Band won best country album for “Uncaged” and Kelly Clarkson turned in the night’s most exuberant acceptance speech after winning best pop vocal album for “Stronger.” After hugging much of the front row and momentarily getting stuck to Miranda Lambert’s dress, Clarkson charged the stage with a giant smile.
“Miguel, I don’t know who the hell you are, but we need to sing together,” she said. “I mean, good God. That was the sexiest dancing I’ve ever seen.”
Skrillex won best dance recording for “Bangarang,” featuring Sirah, best dance/electronica album for “Bangarang” and best remixed recording a year after winning those same awards in his first appearance at the Grammys.
“You know what, I thought I’d get used to it, but I tripped over every word when I was up there,” Skrillex said of his acceptance speeches. “I felt like I just wanted a pool of ice water and just couldn’t even breathe or think. It was crazy. I think it was even crazier than last year.”
Celebrities rolled down the red carpet in the early afternoon under heavy police guard during a continued manhunt for an alleged cop killer. Many stars showed a fair amount of skin despite CBS’s mandate that stars dress appropriately with butts, breasts and other sensitive areas covered adequately.
Nevertheless, Jennifer Lopez showed up on stage in a dress slit all the way to her hip.
“As you can see, I read the memo,” Lopez joked.
AP writers Mesfin Fekadu, Sandy Cohen and Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris—Talbott.