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Adele, Bon Iver, Foo Fighters, Cee Lo And Kanye West Among...

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

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The death of Whitney Houston cast the 54th annual Grammy awards as a more melancholy affair, but it was still a bright night for Adele, Bon Iver, Foo Fighters, Cee Lo Green and Kanye West.

As expected, Adele was the big winner of the night, taking home an armful of six awards for Album of the Year (21). Record of the Year ("Rolling In The Deep"), Best Song ("Rolling In The Deep" with co-writer Paul Epworth), Best Solo Performance ("Someone Like You") and Best Pop Vocal Album (21) and Best Short Form Music Video ("Rolling In The Deep"). Her tearful acceptance speech for Album of the Year was one of the more touching moments of the entire evening (and the best revenge for what she gleefully called a "rubbish relationship"). Epworth, her collaborator, was named Producer of the Year for not only his work with Adele, but Foster The People and Cee Lo Green.

Despite Justin Vernon's Grammy reluctance, Bon Iver won one of the night's most prestigious awards, Best New Artist, as well as Best Alternative Album (Bon Iver, Bon Iver). The hirsute musician's acceptance speech for Best New Artist was obviously an awkward moment for Vernon, who initially stated that it was  "really hard to accept this award." He noted all of the bands that would never be nominated for a Grammy and the fact that he made music for the "inherent reward" of that, although he admitted that with that discomfort there was a sense of gratitude. Vernon, who seemed to relax as he went on, thanked fellow nominees, non-nominees, all the bands he toured with, the voters for the "sweet hookup," the town of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, record label Jagjaguwar and his parents.  

Accepting Foo Fighters' award for Best Rock Performance for "Walk," Dave Grohl made an equally heartfelt speech, pointing out that their album, Wasting Light, was recorded very simply in his garage with producer Butch Vig and emphasized the need  of "learning to do your craft" instead of relying on computerized fixes and technology. The band also won gold gramophones for Best Rock Album (Wasting Light), Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance ("White Limo") and Best Rock Song ("Walk").

Although it wasn't surprising that diaper-changing daddy Jay-Z wasn't on hand for the awards ceremony, it was odd that glutton-for-awards-glory Kanye West was also absent, missing his chance to praise and chastise the crowd (or torment Taylor Swift) after winning Best Rap Performance with Mr. Carter for "Otis" as well as Best Rap Album (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), Best Rap Song ("All The Lights"), and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("All The Lights").

Other winners included Cee Lo Green (Best R&B Song and Best Traditional R&B Performance for "Fool For You" with Melanie Fiona), Skrillex (Best Dance Recording. Best Remixed Recording and Best Dance/Electronica Album for Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites), Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse (Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Body and Soul"), Corinne Bailey Rae (Best R&B Performance for "Is This Love"), Tinariwen (Best World Music Album for Tassili), Stephen Marley (Best Reggae Album for Revelation Pt 1: The Root Of Life), The Civil Wars (Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album for Barton Hollow) and Alison Krause, who won her 27th Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album (Paper Airplane).

And even 90-year-old Betty White took home a Grammy, her first, for Best Spoken Word Album for If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't).  

For a full list of winners, check out the official Grammy site.

Highlights:

1. Alicia Keyes and Bonnie Raitt honoring the late, great Etta James with a cover of "A Sunday Kind of Love" before handing out the Best Pop Solo performance to Adele, who thanked her doctors "for bringing my voice back."

2. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's charismatic performance of the unfortunately just-okay "We Take Care of Our Own."

3. Foo Fighters' live performance of "Walk." Although not quite transforming the Staples Center parking lot into a raucous rock club, it was poignant to hear Dave Grohl (in a Slayer t-shirt) scream, "I never want to die" as a defiant riposte.

4. A blond, svelte and glamorous Adele's much-ballyhooed return to live performance after surgery on her vocal cords, explosively (albeit a tad nervously) kicking "Rolling in the Deep" to the rafters ... and then giggling with relief once she'd finished. The long standing ovation that followed, with Adele calmly basking in the moment, felt like the crowning of a new pop monarch.

5. Jennifer Hudson's cover of "I Will Always Love You" in tribute to Whitney Houston. Competently and emotionally sung ... but it also drove home how glorious and unique Houston's vocals were, traversing the steep hills and lush valleys of Dolly Parton's touching torch song.

Missteps:

1. Who thought it was a good idea to give LL Cool J a microphone?

2. Chris Brown's generic, forced, autotuned-to-infinity performance and shocking win for Best R&B album for F.A.M.E. And the inexplicable (and embarrassing) standing ovation he received. Maybe not awkward for the Grammy crowd, who must have suffered a memory lapse due to their grief over Whitney, but it sure was a baffling response for everyone at home watching, vividly recalling his big anger management issues with Rihanna.

3. Rihanna and Chris Martin of Coldplay's off-key performance of "Princess of China." Easy to blame on Rihanna until Martin slaughtered "Paradise' all by himself with a ragged vocal performance that was so pitchy, it rivaled ten alley cats in heat.

4. The jarring, confusing mashup between Foo Fighters, Deadmau5, Lil Wayne, David Guetta and Chris Brown (again?) didn't do anyone any favors. At least we weren't charged for bottle service. But it seemed relatively docile compared to Nicki Minaj's baffling "Roman Holiday" exorcism number. Although she did levitate. And certainly took the heat off of M.I.A. for flipping the bird last weekend.