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Grammy Awards spread the wealth

For Journal Register Newspapers

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Looking for a theme at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards?

Good luck.

This was the Grammys of parity, where four acts scored three trophies each on Sunday night, Feb. 10, in Los Angeles and several others came home with a pair, and nobody dominated like Adele did last year.

The Black Keys took home a trio of Rock categories, including Best Rock Song, Album and Performance, while the group's Dan Auerbach was named Producer of the Year. That haul was matched by electronic artist Skrillex and rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West for tracks from their 2011 "Watch the Throne" collaboration.

Two-time winners were fun. -- with a pair of major category wins for Song of the Year and Best New Artist, even though, as frontman Nate Reuss told the crowd, "We're so old!" Gotye won Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo or Group Performance for "Somebody That I Used to Know," while Frank Ocean won one each in the R&B and Rap categories and jazz artists Chick Corea and Esperanza Spalding also doubled up.

Even with the wealth well shared there were a couple of suprises. Bonnie Raitt's "Slipstream" bested a batch of youngsters for the Best Americana Album, but one of those upstarts, Britain's Mumford and Sons, made good on its outside chance for Album of the Year, taking home the trophy for its sophomore release "Babel."

As has become Grammy tradition, meanwhile, there were more performances than awards, running the gamut from Taylor Swift's circus-on-stage presentation of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" to refreshingly quite, stripped-down late-show appearances by Ocean ("Forrest Gump") and Juanes (Elton John's "Your Song"). The "event" segments, meanwhile, tended to overshadow the individual performances: Elton John, Mumford and Sons, Mavis Staples, Zac Brown and Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard tore up The Band's "The Weight" in tribute to the late Levon Helm," Bruno Mars, sting and Rihanna were joined by Ziggy and Damien Marley for a spirited tribute to their late father, the reggae icon Bob Marley; and the Black Keys reinvented their hit "Lonely Boy" via an epic collaboration with fellow Grammy winner Dr. John (whose album was produced by Auerbach) and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Other standouts included Kelly Clarkson paying a big-voiced tribute to Patti Page ("Tennessee Waltz") and Carole King ("(You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman)," Jack White's ripping medley of "Love Interruption" and "Freedom at 21," a too-short sampling of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" by Corea, Stanley Clarke and Kenny Garrett, and Justin Timberlake's deservedly ballyhooed return to the Grammy stage, leading his large band (dubbed the Tennessee Kids) through "Suit & Tie" (featuring Jay-Z) and "Pusher Love Girl."

Awkward moments were few and far-between during the three-and-a-half-hour ceremony. The female performers and presenters followed suit with the Grammys' newly instituted call for (relative) modesty. Host LL Cool J's references to performers by Twitter hash tag codes got a little old, and shots of Chris Brown while Rihanna sang during the Marley tribute were cheap, obvious and in bad taste, even if the couple has gotten together after Brown beat her on the even of the 2009 Grammys.

A complete list of Grammy winners can be found at www.Grammy.com.

Web Site: www.grammy.com

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