The Black Keys, the blues-rock duo from Akron, are officially ''the Grammy winning'' duo as the band won four of the six awards for which its music was nominated Sunday evening.
Drummer Patrick Carney and singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach took the stage twice in dark matching suits during the Grammy pre-telecast show streamed online at Grammy.com to thank friends, family and the city of Akron.
The band took home its first two Grammys for best alternative music album for Brothers and best rock performance by a duo or group with vocals for the single Tighten Up. Danger Mouse also won best producer, nonclassical, for work on several projects, including the Keys' single Tighten Up.
Carney's brother Michael Carney won
his first Grammy for best recording package for his art direction on the band's (now) Grammy-winning album Brothers, beating out Doylestown native and current Akron resident Andy Taray, who was nominated for his work on singer/songwriter Chip Taylor's Yonkers, NY.
Several years ago, the Recording Academy took a cue from the American Music Awards and began packing the telecast with big show-stopping set pieces and unique performer combinations.
This year's edition featured stars such as Lady Gaga and special one-time performances such as Mick Jagger and Raphael Saadiq's tribute to late soul singer Solomon Burke, and Bob Dylan performing Maggie's Farm with young bluegrass bands the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons.
Cee-Lo Green, seated at a piano in an Elton John-like psychedelic chicken outfit adorned with feathers and backed up by a band of Muppets, performed his profane nominated hit F*** You with actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
The three-hour-plus telecast opened with a tribute to soul legend Aretha Franklin featuring a medley of her songs performed by Christina Aguilera, Martina McBride, Yolanda Adams and Florence Welch of Florence & the Machine, and Jennifer Hudson.
Lady Gaga performed a new single, the free-to-be-you-and-me anthem Born This Way, by entering the stage in a large glowing egg accompanied by a nearly naked phalanx of dancers. The attention-grabbing singer-songwriter — already a pre-telecast winner for best female pop vocal performance for Bad Romance— performed the new song wearing a skimpy latex outfit. Perhaps she was trying to distract viewers from noticing just how much the new song sounded like Madonna's old song, Express Yourself, right down to the midsong monologue.
Other notable performances included young country band Lady Antebellum highlighting its vocal harmonies on its Grammy-winning ballad Need You Now. Also, Grammy winner Eminem aggressively spit his verses for Love the Way You Lie with Rhianna and a song with the seldom seen Dr. Dre.
Arcade Fire made its Grammy debut with a hard-rocking version of Month of May emphasized by seizure-inducing strobe lights.
Jagger brought 40-plus years of rock star experience to a fun, relaxed, dance-inducing take on Solomon Burke's classic Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.
Surprise winners included jazz bassist/singer Esperanza Spaulding, who won the new artist award despite releasing her third album, Chamber Music Society, in 2010. Spaulding, who along with Bobby McFerrin hosted the pre-telecast, beat pop favorite and teen dream Justin Bieber, sensitive rap star Drake, Florence & the Machine and Mumford & Sons.
Nashville country-pop group Lady Antebellum took home song of the year for Need You Know, beating out 10-time nominee Eminem's Love the Way You Lie and Cee-Lo Green's F*** You (the song otherwise known as Forget You).
Critically hailed indie rock band Arcade Fire, whose album The Suburbs topped many 2010 best-of lists, garnered album of the year. This hopefully shows that Grammy voters will reward bands that don't get a lot of pop radio airplay or sell millions of records. Arcade Fire beat multiplatinum-selling pop star Katy Perry, rap star Eminem and country pop stars Lady Antebellum.
Lady Antebellum's awesome night continued by taking record of the year against Cee-Lo's song, B.O.B and Bruno Mars' Nothin' on You, Eminem's Love the Way You Lie and double winner Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
Anyone who watched the three-hour pre-telecast at Grammy.com saw the Black Keys accept their awards and soul legend Mavis Staples break down in tears at her first Grammy win.
''Oh, Lord, this Grammy took a long time coming,'' she said.
''But I'm grateful. It was worth the wait.''
Her album You Are Not Alone won the best Americana album award.
Neil Young also won his first musical Grammy (he had won for best boxed set in 2009). ''I'm not Mavis, but I'm close,'' he joked, as he held his best rock song trophy for Angry World.
Pre-telecast viewers also experienced the most commonly uttered phrase of the long afternoon: ''The podium accepts.'' Many winners were either not present or already rehearsing for their performances.
Grammy-nominated comedian and presenter Kathy Griffin enlivened the proceedings by reminding everyone of the freedom of the Internet by unleashing a string of naughty words while poking fun (or belittling, depending on your point of view) some of the more obscure categories.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3758.