Musician Sir Paul McCartney (L) and singer Adele attend the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
(February 11, 2012 – Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images North America)
British neo-soul songstress Adele, the best-selling artist of 2011 and a nominee in six categories, pulled off a clean sweep, including song and record of the year for Rolling in the Deep (inspired, she said, “by a rubbish relationship”) and album of the year for 21. She also won for short-form video, pop vocal album and pop solo performance (Someone Like You).
Adele became the sixth artist to win six awards in a night (the last was the Dixie Chicks in 2007) and the youngest act (23) to nail the top three categories. The haul tied her with Beyoncé for most wins by a woman and with Eric Clapton for most wins by a British artist.
The singer thanked producer Rick Rubin for teaching her “quality control” and said she was grateful for a “most life-changing year.” Showing her down-to-earth demeanor, she cracked up the audience by making a reference to her runny nose.
Early on, she thanked the doctor who “brought my voice back” after a vocal cord hemorrhage and displayed her restored vocal prowess with a dynamic reading of Rolling in the Deep that earned an ovation.
The 3½-hour ceremony kicked off with uplift: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band premiered We Take Care of Our Own, and host LL Cool J followed with a brief prayer in memory of Whitney Houston.
And it was a night for redemption. R&B star Chris Brown had never won a Grammy, and his chances seem quashed forever after the Rihanna scandal three years ago. But he was invited to perform and won R&B album for F.A.M.E.
The Foo Fighters earned five trophies, including rock performance for Walk. Other notable winners included Kanye West, who took home four awards, and electronic artist Skrillex, who won three.
Indie folk collective Bon Iver won best new artist in a mild upset of favored Nicki Minaj, and trio Lady Antebellum took country album for Own the Night.
Although young acts dominated the awards, the evening featured a ’60s flair: The Beach Boys reunited to sing Good Vibrations; Paul McCartney sang new single My Valentine; a musical tribute was given to late R&B great Etta James; and Glen Campbell, who is retiring because he has Alzheimer’s disease, sang Rhinestone Cowboy.