Beyonce and Taylor Swift each made history at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards. Beyonce became the first female artist ever to win six Grammys in one night. And Swift became the youngest artist ever to win for Album of the Year.
Beyonce's key win was Song of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." This marks the first time in Grammy history that a frisky, danceable R&B song has been crowned Song of the Year. (The two R&B songs that had won in the past, Alicia Keys' "Fallin'" and Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father," are both elegant ballads.)
This brings Beyonce's career Grammy total to 16. Only two other female artists have amassed that many Grammys. Alison Krauss has 26 Grammys in her collection. Aretha Franklin has 18.
Swift won Album of the Year for her sophomore release, Fearless, which has defied industry trends to sell nearly 5.5 million copies since its release in late 2008. Swift won four awards in all. Alanis Morissette had held the record as the youngest Album of the Year winner. She was 21 when she won for Jagged Little Pill in 1996.
Kings of Leon's boomer-friendly rock smash "Use Somebody" won three awards, including Record of the Year. Kings of Leon is the fifth rock group to take that key award since 1999. The band follows Santana, U2, Coldplay and Green Day.
Fearless is the fourth Album of the Year winner in nine years with strong country appeal, following the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, Dixie Chicks' Taking The Long Way and Raising Sand by Robert Plant/Alison Krauss.
Another sign of country's strength at the Grammys: Zac Brown Band took the award for Best New Artist, defeating contemporary R&B singer Keri Hilson. The Brown Band, whose biggest hit is the zesty, down-home "Chicken Fried," is the second country artist in four years to win the New Artist award, following Carrie Underwood.
Four of the five nominees for Album of the Year won the album awards in their respective genres. Fearless won for Best Country Album; Beyonce's I Am...Sasha Fierce for Best Contemporary R&B Album; the Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D. for Best Pop Vocal Album and Lady Gaga's The Fame for Best Electronic/Dance Album. The only Album of the Year finalist to come up short in its genre album category was the Dave Matthews Band's Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King.
The award for Best Rock Album went instead to Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown. The band's previous album, American Idiot, also won that award. Green Day had stiff competition, not only the Matthews Band, but also U2, which has won 22 Grammys.
Tony Bennett finally met his match in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Bennett went into the ceremony with a perfect track record in the category (10 nominations, 10 wins), but his A Swingin' Christmas lost to Michael Buble Meets Madison Square Garden. This is Buble's second win in this category. He took the prize two years ago for Call Me Irresponsible.
Buble's win, for a live album that was only a modest success, was one of three surprises. (I figured that Willie Nelson would win for American Classic.) I also picked Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" for Song of the Year and U2's No Line On The Horizon for Best Rock Album.)
Eminem won two Grammys, which brings his career total to 11. His Relapse won as Best Rap Album. It's Eminem's fourth win in that category, the most by any artist. Kanye West has won in the category three times. (This year, West's more pop-oriented 808s & Heartbreak was entered in the Best Pop Vocal Album category instead, where it failed to get a nomination. That helped clear the field for Relapse.)
Neil Young, whose career dates back to the 1960s, finally won his first Grammy, albeit for his art skills rather than his music. He won for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package for Neil Young Archives Vol. I (1963-1972). Two rock bands whose careers date to the 1970s also received their first Grammys. AC/DC won for Best Hard Rock Performance for "War Machine." Judas Priest won for Best Metal Performance for "Dissident Aggressor."
Steve Martin's The Crow/New Songs For The Five-String Banjo won for Best Bluegrass Album. Martin has now won as many Grammys for making music as he ever did for telling jokes. Eight years ago, Martin won for Best Country Instrumental Performance for playing on a track from Earl Scruggs & Friends. Martin won back-to-back Grammys for Best Comedy Album with Let's Get Small (1977) and A Wild And Crazy Guy (1978).
Stephen Colbert won for Best Comedy Album for A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All. His mentor and Comedy Central colleague Jon Stewart won the same award five years ago for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents...America: A Citizen's Guide To Democracy Inaction.
Two sons of the late reggae legend Bob Marley received Grammys. Stephen Marley took Best Reggae Album for Mind Control-Acoustic. Ziggy Marley took Best Musical Album for Children for Family Time.
The Beatles' Love-All Together Now was voted Best Long Form Music Video. The Beatles Anthology won that same award 13 years ago.
Colbie Caillat and her father, record producer Ken Caillat, now have matching Album of the Year awards. This is due to the Recording Academy's overly generous policy in which artists who are featured on an album receive nominations and awards for Album of the Year, just as if they are the principal artist. Colbie Caillat and Swift teamed for a duet, "Breathe," on Fearless. Ken Caillat won for co-producing Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, which was voted Album of the Year for 1977.
The Caillats aren't the first father and daughter to each win for Album of the Year. Ravi Shankar won as a participant on The Concert For Bangla Desh, the 1972 champ. His daughter, Norah Jones, has taken the award twice, first for her 2002 debut, Come Away With Me, and again as a featured artist on Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters, the 2007 victor.
Brendan O'Brien won as Producer of the Year. His work this year included AC/DC's Black Ice, Bruce Springsteen's Working On A Dream, Mastodon's Crack The Skye and Killswitch Engage.
Michael Jackson, who made Grammy history 26 years ago by becoming the first artist to win eight Grammys in one night, received a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award. Other Lifetime Achievement Award winners included Bobby Darin, Loretta Lynn and Leonard Cohen.
Paul Grein writes the weekly Chart Watch blog, which appears on the site each Wednesday. He has been analyzing and handicapping the Grammys since 1977.