The Grammy Awards gave their top honor to British roots music band Mumford & Sons for their album “Babel” on Sunday at the 55 th awards ceremony on a night that distributed honors broadly to an array of younger generation acts including New York indie trio Fun., Australian electronic pop artist Gotye , rapper-R&B singer Frank Ocean and Akron, Ohio rock group the Black Keys.
“We figured we weren’t going to win because the Black Keys have been sweeping up all day — and deservedly so,” Mumford & Sons front man Marcus Mumford said after he and his band members strode to the stage at Staples Center in Los Angeles to collect the award from last year’s winner, R&B-soul singer Adele.
Pop culture historians may look back at 2013, however, not only as the year the Grammy Awards ushered a new generation of performers into the upper echelon of music industry accolades but also as the year the music business establishment gave up its long, unsuccessful fight against new forms of music dissemination by embracing songs and videos that consumers soaked up not by purchasing them but by way of YouTube and other Internet outlets.
“Somebody That I Used to Know,” the wildly popular collaboration between Gotye and New Zealand pop singer Kimbra, took the top award presented for a single recording upon being named record of the year, which recognizes performance and record production.
“Somebody…” not only was one of the biggest-selling singles of 2012 but also has notched nearly 400 million views on YouTube, powerfully demonstrating the increasingly vital role of the “broadcast yourself” video Internet phenomenon..
“I’m really at a loss for what to say after receiving an award from the man standing behind us with a cane,” said Gotye, born Wally de Backer, referring to pop star Prince, who announced the category winner. His partner on the track, Kimbra, said, “I feel blessed to be part of this award, and I couldn’t share it with anyone more amazing than this artist here.”
New York indie rock trio Fun. was named best new artist, an acknowledgment of the good-time music the group brought to the airwaves last summer largely through its runaway hit single “We Are Young,” which also has racked up nearly 200 million YouTube views.
“All right, I didn’t think we were gonna win this one — Frank Ocean, the Lumineers, everyone is so awesome,” Fun. member Nate Ruess said by way of name-checking some of the other nominees in the category after he and band mates Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost came to the stage to collect their statuettes.
The Fun. song’s title could also serve as a theme for the evening, which was dominated by other relatively young acts in the most prestigious Grammy categories.
Singer, rapper and songwriter Ocean emerged the victor in the one category that pitted him directly against real-life rival Chris Brown, as his critically acclaimed solo debut album, “Channel Orange,” won the urban contemporary album award. A few minutes later he got a second Grammy with Kanye West, Jay-Z and the Dream in the rap-sung collaboration category for their single “No Church in the Wild.”
Ocean’s tuxedo covered all but his hands, but it appeared as he picked up his award that his left arm remained encased in a wrist brace he’d exhibited Thursday at the rehearsals for this year’s broadcast, a remnant of his scuffle last month with Brown over a parking space at a recording studio. LAPD investigators looking into the incident said Ocean informed them that he would not press charges against Brown.
It was the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach who quickly built up steam as the front runner to dominate this year’s awards, taking five statuettes barely an hour into the show, including producer of the year for himself and three with his group including rock performance, rock song and rock album for “El Camino.”
The Black Keys honed in on the fundamentals of rock ’n’ roll — big guitar riffs, lustful lyrics and a bevy of musical hooks on “El Camino,” which took the Grammy for rock album over Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto,” Muse’s “The 2nd Law,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” and Jack White’s “Blunderbuss.”