Los Angeles: The pop-rockers fun. won song of the year at the Grammy Awards on Sunday for their transcendent anthem, We Are Young, featuring Janelle Monae, during Sunday night’s telecast, taking the first of four major awards the group’s been nominated.
Most of the attention has been on Frank Ocean going into the awards — he won a trophy for urban contemporary album and is up for four more trophies during the telecast. But his fellow lead nominees got an early lead on the R&B singer.
We Are Young helped fun. earn a starring role at these Grammys with nominations in all four major categories after the release of their first album, matched only by Christopher Cross in 1981, and six overall. The band turned in a powerful early performance of Carry On early in the show as a downpour on stage began mid-song and guitarist Jack Antonoff got a kiss from girlfriend Lena Dunham of Girls fame after winning.
Fun. may have picked up a major win, but it was The Black Keys and Skrillex who had the early lead thanks to strong runs in the pre-telecast awards show.
The Black Keys singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach took the early lead during the pre-telecast show, picking up three trophies and assisting with a fourth. Auerbach won producer of the year alone and best rock song for Lonely Boy and rock album for El Camino with his bandmate Patrick Carney, joining electronic dance music innovator Skrillex atop the early leaderboard. He was also producer for another winner, Dr John.
A slew of artists sit one back going into the main awards show at the Staples Center, including fellow top nominees Kanye West and Jay-Z, Gotye, former best new artist winner Esperanza Spalding, jazz man Chick Corea and Christian singer-songwriter Matt Redman.
West and Jay-Z won best rap song and best rap performance for the song “… in Paris” from their “Watch the Throne” collaboration and lost a third for short form video for “No Church in The Wild,” which featured Ocean. Ocean will be up for five awards later in the evening.
Other early winners included Rihanna, Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Mumford & Sons, one of six top nominees with six nods apiece. Ocean is up for the major awards best new artist, album of the year and record of the year.
The Grammy pre-telecast awards show at the Nokia Theatre had 70 trophies up for grabs, including rock, pop, rap and country categories.
Skrillex won best dance recording for Bangarang, featuring Sirah, best dance/electronica album for Bangarang and best remixed recording.
“Let’s keep making music,” he said. “… We’re a big family. We’re a big community. We support music and forward-thinking ideas here.”
Gotye, a Belgian-Australian artist, won best alternative album for Making Mirrors and best pop/duo performance for Somebody That I Used To Know, featuring Kimbra.
Spalding had one of the most touching moments of the pre-telecast awards show, taking the stage with her longtime jazz teacher Thara Memory for their win in the best instrumental arrangement accompanying vocalist category. She also won for best jazz vocal album for her Radio Music Society.
Corea, who competed against himself in two categories, won best improvised jazz solo for Hot House with Gary Burton and best instrumental composition for “Mozart Goes Dancing.”
And Redman won best gospel/contemporary Christian music performance and best contemporary Christian music song (in a tie) for “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord).”
Canadian rapper Drake won his first Grammy, the best rap album award for Take Care.
Paul McCartney won best traditional pop vocal album for Kisses On The Bottom, while The Beach Boys earned best historical album for The Smile Sessions.
Colombian pop superstar Juanes took home the award for best Latin pop album for his “MTV Unplugged” album.
Ravi Shankar, the sitar virtuoso, ambassador of Indian music and friend of The Beatles, who died in December at 92, won best world music album for The Living Room Sessions Part 1.
Anoushka Shankar, his daughter, accepted the award on his behalf. The sitar player and composer was also a nominee for her album Traveller.
Other early winners included Rihanna, who won short form music video for We Found Love featuring Calvin Harris, and Swift won the Grammy for best song written for visual media for Safe & Sound, her collaboration with The Civil Wars on The Hunger Games soundtrack. It was Swift’s seventh Grammy and the third for Joy Williams and John Paul White of The Civil Wars.
“I think it’s appropriate that Taylor thanks us because we’ve been carrying her for a while and it’s getting really tiring,” White joked.
Adele, who dominated the 2012 Grammys, won best pop solo performance for Set Fire to the Rain.
Beyonce won for best traditional R&B performance, Mumford & Sons took their first Grammy, winning along with Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros for their long form video documentary Big Easy Express.
Celebrities began rolling down the red carpet in the early afternoon, but it remained to be seen if any would try to skirt CBS’s mandate that stars dress appropriately with butts, breasts and other sensitive areas covered adequately.
“I think it’s just, you know, we should always stay classy and dress according to the event that’s being held,” Ashanti said on the red carpet. “So I don’t think people should be limited so much and told what you can and cannot do. But, you know, you do have to have a certain class and prestige about yourself.”
Celebrities also felt an increased Los Angeles Police Department presence in light of a manhunt involving an alleged cop killer. Police were everywhere, including atop the hotel across from the Staples Center.
Ocean might be riding a wave toward some of the night’s biggest honors. He is still up for five awards going into the night along with fellow top nominee fun.
“It feels cool,” Ocean said on the red carpet. “It’s really bright, a lot of beautiful ladies walking around being fancy. I have to perform tonight so the wheels are constantly spinning. You can’t really just sit in your seat and take it all in.”
Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know, featuring Kimbra, Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) join the fun., Ocean and Black Keys entries in record of the year.
And rounding out the major categories, fun., Ocean, Alabama Shakes, Hunter Hayes and The Lumineers are up for best new artist.
Swift will kick things off with a show-opening performance. Fun. and Ocean will take the stage. Others scheduled to perform include Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood, Clarkson, White and Juanes.
There will be no shortage of mashups the Grammys have become famous for, either. Elton John, Mavis Staples, Mumford, Brittany Howard, T Bone Burnett and Zac Brown are saluting the late Levon Helm, who won the Americana Grammy last year a few months before his death. The Keys will join Dr John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on stage. Sting, Rihanna and Bruno Mars will perform together. Other team-ups include Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley, and Alicia Keys and Maroon 5.
Other early winners included Quetzal, a bilingual Los Angeles rock band, for best Latin rock, urban or alternative album for Imaginaries.
The salsa band Marlow Rosado Y La Riquena, led by Puerto Rican native Marlow Rosado, won the best tropical Latin award, while singer-songwriter Lila Downs won for best regional Mexican music album.
Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval’s Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You) won for best large jazz ensemble, his fourth Grammy.
The Latin jazz award, which was restored this year after its elimination was met with widespread protests, went to The Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band for ¡Ritmo! Bandleader and keyboardist Clare Fischer passed away in 2012.