Grammy Awards 2011

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Grammys 2011: Lady Gaga, Cee Lo, and Christina Aguilera lead the list of winners and surprises

It was a night of surprises as indie band Arcade Fire and jazz newcomer Esperanza Spalding earn big wins.

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Compiled by Marie Elizabeth Oliver
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 14, 2011; 10:28 AM

Major upsets by Esperanza Spalding and Arcade Fire along with another Christina Aguilera performance blunder left music fans with plenty to talk about following Sunday's 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.

Pop music critic Chris Richards reported from Los Angeles on the night's biggest hits and misses:

Gaga, schmaga. Lady Antebellum, the adorable country-pop trio with the slavery-era name, won big at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, winning both record of the year and song of the year for "Need You Now," a gorgeous ballad about a boozy late-night booty call.

The wins marked a night of huge upsets that included Canadian indie rock underdogs Arcade Fire taking home album of the year for their surging rock opus "The Suburbs" and jazz newbie Esperanza Spalding besting the likes of Justin Bieber and Drake for best new artist.

"What the hell?" Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler exclaimed in disbelief at the podium, Grammy in hand, in what felt like an apt assessment of the entire evening.

Richards helped make sense of the snubs, surprises and sensational moments during a live chat with readers Monday morning.

From Lady Gaga's egg-as-outerware to CeeLo's technocolor feather bodysuit, Grammy performers' fashion choices leaned more toward ridiculous than runway. Which is why in addition to the obligatory best and worst dressed list, Celebritology bloggers Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly added a weirdest-dressed category to their red-carpet evaluation. They also broke down the night's must-see moments ... just in case you forgot to set your DVR:

Yeah, Lady Gaga showed up in an egg, then got onstage and performed "Born This Way." But as has already been pointed out by many others, we pretty much saw and heard this same act when Madonna did it circa 1989. Well, minus the egg. That was a nice, bizarre touch.

Anyway, we were more impressed by the crazy-shimmery pants Ricky Martin wore when he introduced Gaga. They didn't make it into the video clip below, but trust me. They were something special.

Looking like a cross between Elton John, a peacock and an oversize version of Elmo, Cee Lo Green brought the sanitized version of his infectiously funky hit -- a song Grammy officially dubbed the Song Otherwise Known as "Forget You" -- to the stage with help from some Muppets (including one that sort of looked like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) and Gwyneth Paltrow in a pair of dauntingly high platform heels. It was totally over the top and completely out-Gaga'd Lady Gaga. Remember how you wore Muppets on your dress, Gaga? Well, [forget] you -- we made 'em part of the act!

From a pop-culture perspective, ComPost's Alexandra Petri gave her take on the message behind this year's Grammy Awards:

"You are confusing what is important with what is impressive," says a character in E. M. Forster's Maurice.

That's the Grammys in a nutshell.

Oh, Mubarak just stepped down. But is Charlie Sheen all right? There might be protests in Bahrain? We can't check! What was going on with Ceelo Green? He looked like the offspring of Elton John and the NBC peacock! Can we talk about that instead?

What seems to emerge from the show is that we like surprises. And fire. The only thing we like more than surprises is fire that is also a surprise. And it's not just good surprises, like parties, but also bad surprises, like an appearance by Mick Jagger, or the announcement that "Someone named Esperanza Saltine? Spalding? Spackle? I don't know -- does anyone? -- has been named Best New Artist."

I could try to make a stretch here. I could say, "Look, this is what voting does. The nature of democracy is that everyone is disappointed, a little." (But, seriously, Esperanza Spalding? Hosni Mubarak would have been a more popular choice. At least people on Twitter have heard of him.)

More from The Washington Post:

Photos: Music stars walk the Grammy Awards red carpet

List of Grammy Award winners

Video: Lady Gaga arrives in egg at Grammys

Music stars walk the Grammy Awards red carpet

Blog Post: How old is Mick Jagger? And Barbra Streisand and Willow Smith? Why do we care?

Interactive graphic: The Grammy Bump


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