When the 51st Annual Grammy Awards paused to hand out actual awards, a lot of them went to Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.
The duo from opposite sides of the musical tracks continued to prove that risks are worth taking as they collected a leading three awards at Sunday’s performance-packed ceremony, including Album of the Year for their debut collaboration, Raising Sand, and Record of the Year for “Please Read the Letter,” en route to notching five Grammys overall.
Raising Sand was also named Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album, while the tunes “Killing the Blues” and “Rich Woman” won for Best Country and Pop Collaboration With Vocals, respectively.
“I’m bewildered,” Plant said upon accepting the evening’s top award. “In the old days we’d call this selling out, but I think it’s a good way to spend a Sunday.”
They shared some of their Grammy night glory with Coldplay, winners of three trophies overall, including Best Rock Album and Song of the Year for Viva la Vida and its title track.
“We’re not, of course, the heaviest of rock banks, as you may have noticed,” frontman Chris Martin said in thanking the crowd for their Rock Album honor. “We’re more a little limestone kind of rock—a little something, but just as charming.”
“We feel so grateful to be here,” Martin added, while earlier in the night bandmate Will Champion apologized to Paul McCartney for Coldplay’s adoption of the Sgt. Pepper look for their latest album.
Lil Wayne, who went into Grammy season leading the entire syncopated pack with eight nominations, had a strong showing as well, notching four wins, including Best Rap Album for Tha Carter III.
And while the night was really a showcase for performances grand and grander, Jennifer Hudson—whose self-titled debut was named Best R&B Album, to give the Oscar winner her first Grammy—received a pair of standing ovations for reasons other than her soulful vocal on “You Pull Me Through.”
“Wow, I’m just in awe right now,” Hudson said upon accepting the first award of the night. “First I want to thank God, who has brought me through. Also, my family in heaven and those who are here today.”
British songbird Adele, who won for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Chasing Pavements,” was named Best New Artist, the second year in a row a subject of Her Majesty the Queen took the honor. (And here’s hoping Adele doesn’t go on to have the post-Grammy year Amy Winehouse had.)
Of the 110 categories honored by the Recording Academy of America, only 10 were singled out for prime time, meaning most of tonight’s three-and-a-half-hour ceremony was dedicated to live performances—and random pairings, as it were.
Some of the night’s so-called once-in-a-lifetime groupings included Dave Grohl providing the backbeat for McCartney on “I Saw Her Standing There”; Stevie Wonder teaming with the Jonas Brothers on “Burning Up” and “Superstition”; Keith Urban sitting in with Al Green, Boys II Men and Justin Timberlake on “Stay Together”; and the USC marching band giving brassy accompaniment to Radiohead on “15 Step.”
Noticeably not performing, however, were Chris Brown, who was arrested this evening on suspicion of felony domestic battery, and his girlfriend, Rihanna, whom he’s accused of beating up on early Sunday morning.
“I’m hoping that [the awards are] the story and should not be eclipsed by this part of business,” Recording Academy President Neil Portnow told E! News backstage at the Grammys. “I think the story is…the music that went on onstage.”