Grammy Awards have rocky start, rolling finish

After being shut out for most of the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, the earnest Brit boys in Mumford & Sons (right) took home the heaviest hardware of the evening: album of the year for Babel. • "Music's biggest night" was a bit bipolar this year, with more than a few lackluster performances and a too-casual vibe at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. • But hey, there was enough during the three-and-a-half-hour show (ugh) to keep us catty at the watercooler today. Herewith, Grammy highlights, lowlights and, well, Jennifer Lopez's superheroic thigh:

WELL, IF PRINCE LIKES IT... The Purple One presented Belgian singer Gotye with the record of the year award for Somebody That I Used to Know. "Oh, I love this song," hushed a rather tender Prince upon opening the envelope, a super-cool blessing that's even more awesome than the trophy itself.

best performance of the night Pt. I Those garage-rocking Akron outcasts in the Black Keys — who won, among several other awards, best rock album for El Camino — invited the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Dr. John for a blazing version of Lonely Boy, which also won best rock song.

OF COURSE THEY HAD FUN New York City pop-rock crew Fun. won best new artist and song of the year for ubiquitous anthem We Are Young. They also performed new single Carry On in an indoor rainstorm — and every single person watching was terrified of imminent electrocution. Phew.

QUITE FRANKLY Frank Ocean, whose genre-blending album Channel Orange explored themes of bisexuality (not exactly the most popular topic in the braggadocious domain of hiphop), won for best urban contemporary album and joined in the victory for rap/sung collaboration with Kanye West, Jay-Z and The-Dream (No Church in the Wild).

best performance of the night pt. II Ocean singing Forrest Gump, a neo-soul song about another man. Awesome, moving, unforgettable.

TAYLOR SWIFT GETS EDGY (OR SOMETHING) When you saw a creepy Mad Hatter guy on a flame-throwing tricycle roll onstage to open the night, you were thinking Lady Gaga, maybe Katy Perry, right? Nope, behold T-Swizzle (as show host LL Cool called 23-year-old Swift) doing a Psycho Circus version of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC AND THE RED-HAIRED COWBOY The Grammys have always been more about performances than awards (most of the trophies are handed out before the show even starts). They also love funky pairings, and the first of those was Elton John and rookie busker Ed Sheeran, who duetted on the latter's The A Team. EJ sounded a little gruff, but he perked up later an all-star tribute (Zac Brown, T Bone Burnett and more) to the late Levon Helm. "Take a load off, Fanny..."

GRAMMYZZZ Boy, did this one have some sloooow parts. A pairing between Maroon 5 and Alicia Keys was lackluster. A solo performance by Rihanna fizzled. And it turns out the Lumineers are more annoying live than on radio. Hey! Ho! No!

JUST JACK Raging guitar nutter Jack White brought two bands — one all women, one all dudes uncorking two cuts, including the psychotic breakdown of Freedom at 21. Cool stuff.

SO MUCH FOR THE NAUGHTY BITS BAN The Grammys asked attendees to watch it with the racy outfits this year. They actually used the words "breasts" and "buttocks." In related news: Jennifer Lopez flashed enough thigh to make Angelina Jolie blush. "As you can see, I read the memo," J.Lo said.

IT'S NOT SIX, BUT STILL... Adele dominated last year's Grammys, but even without a new album out, she still managed to win best pop solo performance for a live version of Set Fire to the Rain.

COOLEST MOVE OF THE NIGHT Jay-Z just kind of no-big-deal sauntered out of the audience and knocked out the rap on Justin Timberlake's slick (and sepia-toned) performance of Suit & Tie.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT "I got stuck to Miranda Lambert!" — an adorably babbling Kelly Clarkson accepting the shiny gramophone for best pop vocal album, Stronger. Clarkson, however, was all firebrand intensity when she honored the late Patti Page and Carole King.

AT LEAST BRUNO'S A grateful THIEF Sting joined in on Bruno Mars' blatantly Police-lifting Locked Out of Heaven during a loose, irie-mon tribute to Bob Marley. Rihanna and a bunch of Bob's kids jammed on Could You Be Loved. The Grammys need to let their dreads down more often!

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@tampabay.com. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

Grammy Awards have rocky start, rolling finish 02/10/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 11, 2013 5:51am]

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