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The nighttime portion of the 55th annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday was filled with tons of performances, tributes, promotions and Fun., as in the New York City pop band that took home two key trophies.
Singer-songwriter Gotye, the English folky band Mumford & Sons, rockers the Black Keys and R&B/hip-hop artist Frank Ocean also made their marks, but otherwise - unlike last year, when Adele dominated - there were no clear big winners.
"Last year, we didn't get a taste because Adele swept up everything," said Marcus Mumford when he accepted the album of the year award - for "Babel" - from Adele. The band had five other nominations and had come up empty until winning the big prize.
In a surprise, record of the year went to Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" featuring Kimbra. Earlier in the day, the artist, whose real name is Wouter "Wally" De Backer (he is Belgian and Australian, took home two awards. His album "Making Mirrors" was named best alternative album, and "Somebody" won best pop/group performance.
"I didn't expect to win anything. I'm still processing," Gotye said backstage. He had accepted the record of the year award, along with New Zealand artist Kimbra, from Prince. "We're pretty huge fans," he said of the music icon, adding that "under his breath" Prince "said he loves the song, which was a pretty big thrill."
Song of the Year, which is given to the songwriters, went to Fun. for the ubiquitous anthem "We Are Young" written by the three members of the group - Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, Jack Antonoff - and their producer Jeff Bhasker.
"If you see our faces in HD, you know we aren't young," said lead singer Ruess, referring to the fact that the band struggled for a while before their breakthrough. He turns 31 later this month. Later, when they won best new artist, he cracked, "We're so old."
The Black Keys took their third Grammy of the day with best rock performance for "Lonely Boy." Earlier, the Akron, Ohio, duo won best rock song ("Lonely Boy") and best rock album ("El Camino"). Dan Auerbach, who produced the album, was named producer of the year.
Best pop vocal album went to Kelly Clarkson's anthem "Stronger." "I didn't know I was going to win," said a genuinely surprised Clarkson. She then thanked her fiance "who looks sexy tonight, y'all."
The first award of the evening was for Best Pop Solo Performance and it went to last year's Grammy darling Adele for a live version of "Set Fire to the Rain." The British diva received the statuette from Jennifer Lopez, whom she called "my good luck charm" after receiving a trophy from her last year. "My love to all the other girls," said the recent mom. "we make it look so easy."
Backstage, the seemingly always smiling Adele was asked about motherhood after winning six Grammys last year. "I've been up since 6 a.m.," she said. "I find I'm a bit more balanced about things." As for a new album, she added, "I'm definitely not very far along I'm mostly doing nursery rhymes."
Carrie Underwood won best country solo performer for "Blown Away" "Country music has always been good to me," said the former "American Idol" winner after accepting the award.
The Zack Brown Band took home the award for best country album for "Uncaged." To all my guys who backed my play," said the namesake of the band.
Best urban contemporary album went to Frank Ocean for "Channel Orange." It was a popular win.
"I want to look at you all as kids in tuxedoes," the hip-hop- R&B influenced Ocean - once a songwriter for the likes of Justin Bieber and Brandy - told the audience.
Ocean was also part of the best/rap/sung collaborations for "No Church in the Wild" with Jay-Z, Kanye West and The Dream. Earlier, Jay-Z and West picked up two awards for "N*****s in Paris."
Since only 11 awards are given during the telecast, performances are paramount to any Grammy night.
In a set inspired by Alice in Wonderland and Cirque du Soleil, Taylor Swift opened the show with her latest breakup anthem, "We Are Never Ever Getting Together," which was nominated for record of the year. Swift won a Grammy earlier for co-writing "Safe & Sound," which was used in the movie "The Hunger Games."
Sir Elton John and young British sensation Ed Sheeran performed his hit "The A Team." Looking like he's readying for his next pirate movie, Johnny Depp introduced Mumford & Sons, who performed their hit "I Will Wait," and The Lumineers had the audience join in on their infectious ditty "Ho Hey."
Then they brought on Jack White who did "Love Interruption" and a searing version of "Freedom 21" from his debut solo album, "Blunderbuss," tossing his guitar at the end of the performance.
Ellen DeGeneres and Beyonce introduced Justin Timberlake's national debut of his new music with a medley of "Suit & Tie"/ "Pusher Love." Backed by a big band and in a tuxedo, Timberlake's performance was well-received by the audience and included a cameo by Jay-Z.
Fun. was literally rained on as they performed their hit "Carry On." The Black Keys were joined by New Orleans legendary pianist Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a version of "Lonely Boy."
Bruno Mars and Sting offered a tribute to reggae giant Bob Marley and his influence on music, including Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" and Sting's "Walking on the Moon." They were then joined by Marley family members Ziggy, Stephen and Damian along with Rihanna for a rousing version of Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved."
Clarkson did a tribute to two lifetime achievement award winners - Patti Page and Carole King - with a medley of "Tennessee Waltz" and "Natural Woman."
As she performed "Blown Away" and "Two Black Cadillacs," graphic artists used Carrie Underwood's billowy white dress to project different designs on.
There was a tribute to jazz great Dave Brubeck by Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Kenny Garrett before the segment when the music academy honored those who have died. Elton John then led version of "The Weight," which was originally sung by the late Levon Helm of The Band.
The awards were hosted by CBS "NCIS: Los Angeles" star, rapper and Grammy winner LL Cool J, who performed "Whaddup" to end the evening.
The Recording Academy also announced the first Music Educator Award to recognize music teachers and their positive influence. Nominations are welcomed at www.grammymusicteacher.com.