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  • Robert Gauthier Los Angeles Times Adele won best pop solo performance for a live version of "Set Fire to the Rain."

  • Robert Gauthier Los Angeles Times The band Fun. performs during the 55th annual Grammy Awards show Sunday night in Los Angeles. The indie rockers won Grammys as the best new artists and for song of the year for "We Are Young."

  • Allen J. Schaben Los Angeles Times Taylor Swift won for a song written for visual media, "Safe & Sound" from "Hunger Games."

Grammys: A wide spectrum of winners

Published: Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 12A
Last Modified: Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 - 6:13 am

LOS ANGELES – The Grammy Awards gave their top honor to the British roots music band Mumford & Sons for their album "Babel" on Sunday at the 55th awards ceremony.

The Grammys distributed honors broadly to an array of younger-generation acts, including New York indie rock 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 frontman Marcus Mumford said after he and his band members strode to the stage at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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 via 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 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 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."

Fun. was named best new artist, an acknowledgment of the good-time music it 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, name-checking some of the other nominees in the category after he and bandmates Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost came to the stage to collect their statuettes.

Singer, rapper and songwriter Ocean emerged the victor in the 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."

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 homed 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." Auerbach picked up another award as producer of the blues album winner, Dr. John's "Locked Out." Fun.'s "We Are Young," was crowned song of the year, bringing trophies to the group's songwriters, Antonoff, Dost and Ruess and collaborator Jeff Bhasker.

Original "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson beamed and spoke effusively after taking the pop vocal album award for her CD "Stronger" in a category that also included efforts by Florence and the Machine, Fun., Maroon 5 and Pink, all of whom Clarkson praised during a rapid-fire acceptance speech.

Carrie Underwood grabbed the country solo performance Grammy for the title track from her album "Blown Away," which also won the country song award for writers Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins.

The Zac Brown Band added to its still-building place as a new-generation country powerhouse with a win of the country album trophy for its "Uncaged," built on muscular Southern rock guitar riffs, elaborate multipart vocal harmonies and jam-band instrumental excursions.

Last year's big winner, Adele, collected the first statuette of the night for her single "Set Fire to the Rain" in the pop solo performance category.

The show got off to an eye-popping start with a Cirque du Soleil-inspired performance by Taylor Swift of her nominated single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."

The preponderance of youthful acts not broadly known to mainstream TV audiences heightened the necessity on the show of cross-generational pairings, with rising songwriter and singer Ed Sheeran sharing the stage early with veteran Grammy darling Elton John, while Bruno Mars teamed up with Sting later in the show. Several members of Americana acts, including Alabama Shakes and Mumford & Sons, gave a tribute to drummer Levon Helm of the Band.

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