On a night of bold and flat-out weird performances, the 53rd annual Grammy Awards ultimately played it safe by heaping awards on the country-rock trio Lady Antebellum.
Canadian rockers Arcade Fire (pictured below) claimed album of the year for "The Suburbs" and got to perform twice, including to close the show. Their first performance, one of the rawest of the night, featured BMX riders with cameras mounted to their bikes.
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But Lady Antebellum dominated. The Nashville-based group, formed in 2006, won record of the year, song of the year, country album, country song, and country performance by a duo or group with vocals for "Need You Now."
When it came to performances, the standout performers were the artists who took the wildest risks.
Cee-Lo Green and Gwyeth Paltrow did a duet that included Green looking like a peacock-ified Elton John and a gaggle of puppet backup singers.
Justin Bieber and Usher performed a medley that included corny canned dialogue about how they met, drummers dressed like ninjas, and a guest appearance by Jaden Smith.
Also odd — but compulsively watchable — was an Eminem performance that segued from a duet with Rihanna into a tribute to his mentor, Dr. Dre. It was Dre's first live TV performance in a decade, but he hadn't been gone from the scene long enough for many viewers to realize he had left it.
Bob Dylan also stood out, but seemed like part of a different show: He and his band wandered out onstage to perform "Maggie's Farm" like the Grammys were just another stop on a freewheeling carouse.
Mick Jagger's first Grammys appearance was in a tribute to Solomon Burke that exploded with energy. "Mick Jagger is crazy fresh!!!," tweeted Kanye West, getting it exactly right.
Barbra Streisand made the bold move of showing up, making an exceedingly rare live TV appearance.
Lady Gaga, a master of stealing shows, offered a straightforward performance of her new single, "Born This Way" — once she emerged from an egg. Her midriff-baring outfit did little to steal attention from the Madonna-inspired song. Later she won best pop vocal album for "The Fame Monster," wearing a leather bubble-butt thing you can try for yourself to make sense of (left). She also won best female pop vocal performance and best short form music video for "Bad Romance."
Aside from the standout numbers, the telecast bounced around amiably from a tribute to Aretha Franklin to Miranda Lambert to a driving perfomance by Muse to a Motown-influenced Bruno Mars number.
Train won the first award of the night, for best performance by a pop duo or group, for "Hey Soul Sister (Live).
"Thanks, Justin Bieber, for not being a duo or group," lead singer Patrick Monaghan said in accepting the award.
Miranda Lambert won for best female country vocal, noting that she scored her first Grammy after her first performance at the awards.
The music industry's biggest awards night aired from Staples Center in Los Angeles.
In a pre-awards ceremony on Saturday, The Ramones and Julie Andrews were among the performers receiving lifetime achievement recognition.