The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards was a night of exhilarating performances, inspired tributes, and emotional acceptance speeches. Big winners included British singer Adele, veteran rockers the Foo Fighters, dubstep producer Skrillex and country superstar Taylor Swift.
Adele brought home six GRAMMYs, tying Beyoncé for the most awards won by a female artist in one night. Adele won for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for 21, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Short Form Music Video for "Rolling In The Deep," and Best Pop Solo Performance for "Someone Like You."
Returning to live performance for the first time since vocal cord surgery, Adele also wowed the audience with the stunning "Rolling In The Deep," her soulful delivery further evidence of her justly awarded, star-worthy talent.
Foo Fighters, won five of the field-leading seven GRAMMYs for which they were nominated, including Best Rock Album for Wasting Light and Best Rock Performance for "Walk." In receiving the latter award, frontman Dave Grohl noted the "human element of making music is what‘s most important, [it's] not about sounding perfect, but what goes on in here," pointing to his heart.
Kanye West won four awards, including Best Rap Album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Best Rap Performance with Jay-Z for "Otis."
Adele's producer Paul Epworth earned awards for Record Of The Year for "Rolling In The Deep" and Album Of The Year for 21, as well as Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical.
Electronica artist Skrillex also had a big night, winning three awards, including Best Dance Recording for "Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites" and Best Dance/Electronica Album for the album of the same name.
The GRAMMYs' collective mood was tempered by the passing of Whitney Houston, who was honored throughout the night by several artists. "We've had a death in the family," said host LL Cool J, who also offered a prayer to "our fallen sister."
Jennifer Hudson gave arguably the most emotionally charged performance of the evening with an a capella version of Whitney Houston's Record Of The Year-winning "I Will Always Love You."
In continuing with the show's heartfelt theme, Bruno Mars' exciting '60s-styled R&B helped lift everyone's spirits, as did Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt's soulful tribute to Etta James, "A Sunday Kind Of Love."
This year's show also added a touch of history. In their first live appearance in more than 20 years, the Beach Boys' original lineup (excepting late brothers Carl and Dennis Wilson) was accompanied by Foster The People and Maroon 5 for a trio of songs, including "Good Vibrations."
Sir Paul McCartney performed a sensitive rendition of a new ballad, "My Valentine," from his forthcoming standards album, Kisses On The Bottom. Joined by Diana Krall on piano, guitarist Joe Walsh, and a full orchestra, the song was a lush highlight. Two nights prior, McCartney was feted as the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year.
Another powerful moment came via a tribute to Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Glen Campbell, who last year announced he is battling Alzheimer's disease. Blake Shelton and the Band Perry joined the tribute, which closed out with Campbell’s gem “Rhinestone Cowboy.”
The prestigious Best New Artist Award was won by Bon Iver, taking the prize from the likes of Skrillex, Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, and the Band Perry. "Thanks for the hook-up," said Justin Vernon during his heartfelt acceptance speech.
Appropriately, the legendary McCartney closed the night with a medley: "Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight"/"The End." The final song featured explosive electric guitar solos from McCartney, Grohl, Walsh, Rusty Anderson, and Bruce Springsteen, ending an electrifying evening.