Nominees in the top Grammy categories picked up early awards in their respective genres Sunday during the awards pre-telecast from Los Angeles' Staples Center.
"This is my first Grammy, you guys!" said a breathless Taylor Swift as she accepted an award for best female vocal country performance for her song "White Horse." "I mean, this is a Grammy!" The award caps off a slew of honors for Swift, who swept the Country Music Association prizes in November.
Swift stepped to the podium again minutes later to accept a best country song Grammy for "White Horse" along with her writing partner Liz Rose.
Rose recalled when "this curly-headed fourteen year old asked me, 'will you write with me sometime? Thankfully I said yes," said Rose.
Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" and "The Fame" album won respectively for best dance recording and best electronic/dance album during the Grammy pre-telecast Sunday. Winners in the song of the year, record of the year and album of the year categories had yet to be announced at press time, but "Poker Face" and Swift's "You Belong With Me" were nominees in the first two categories and "The Fame" and Swift's "Fearless" were up for a Grammy in the latter.
Beyonce's "Single Ladies" and Maxwell's "Pretty Wings," also both song of the year nominees, won for female and male R&B vocal performance, while "Single Ladies" beat out "Pretty Wings" for best R&B song. Maxwell's long-awaited "Blacksummer's Night" won for best R&B album, while Beyonce's "I Am…Sasha Fierce" won for best contemporary R&B album. Beyonce scored again in the traditional R&B vocal category with "At Last," a cover of the Etta James classic that she recorded for the film "Cadillac Records."
Kings of Leon, another record and song of the year nominee, won Grammys for best rock song and rock vocal group performance for "Use Somebody." The Black Eyed Peas "The E.N.D." won for best pop vocal album while "I Gotta Feeling" won for best pop group vocal performance. The quartet's "Boom Boom Pow" video also won for best short form video.
Jay-Z beat Drake, Eminem, Kid Cdi and Mos Def for best rap solo performance for "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)," but Eminem won best rap album for "Relapse" and his collaboration with Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, "Crack A Bottle," won for best rap performance by a duo or group. Best Rap Song went to Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West's "Run This Town."
Keith Urban won a Grammy for best male country vocal performance for "Sweet Thing," from his "Defying Gravity" album. The group country performance award went to Lady Antebellum for "I Run To You," from their self-titled album, while the country collaboration Grammy went to Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis for "I Told You So."
Following its Oscar wins for best original score and song last year, "Slumdog Millionaire" picked up early Grammys Sunday for best compilation soundtrack and best song written for motion picture or television. Composer Michael Giacchino won a Grammy for best score soundtrack for the Disney/Pixar film "Up."
Composer and producer A.R. Rahman accepted the awards for the "Slumdog Millionaire" soundrack and the song "Jai Ho," for which he won the Grammy along with songwriters Guizar and Tanvi Shah.
Neil Young, who was feted Friday as the Grammys' MusiCares Person of the Year on Friday, won as an art director for best boxed or special limited edition package for "Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 (1963-1972)" along with Gary Burden and Jenice Heo. Johnny Depp and Douglas Brinkley lost out to Dan Morgenstern for best album notes; Depp and Brinkley were nominated for "Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson - Music from the Film," while Morgenstern was awarded the Grammy for his notes on "The Complete Louis Armstrong Decca Sessions (1935-1946).
Imogen Heap, carrying what looked like a transparent plastic parasol, took home a Grammy for best engineered album for her album "Ellipse."
Other early winners included David Guetta, who won for best re-mixed recording for "When Love Takes Over." An exuberant Guetta accepted his award by saying, "I got five nominations so it means that finally the DJ culture and the dance culture is growing in America, so thank you for seeing that."
Brendan O'Brien won producer of the year for his work with AC/DC, Mastodon, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and Killswitch Engage.
Few surprises were in store Sunday in the Latin category at the 52nd Grammy Awards, with Spanish pop group La Quinta Estación winning a Grammy for Latin pop album and Calle 13 winning for Latin rock, alternative or urban album. Calle 13's "Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo" had already won album of the year and best urban album at the Latin Grammys last fall.
La Quinta Estación, which had lost out to Mexican pop group Reik in the pop album category at the Latin Grammys, bested alternative artist Natalia LaFourcade, tropical artist Francisco Cespedes, pop diva Paulina Rubio and singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona for the best Latin pop album Grammy. Salsa star Luis Enrique's "Ciclos" reprised its best salsa album Latin Grammy win from last fall by winning a Grammy for best tropical Latin album. In accepting his award, Enrique said he "came to the United States in 1978 with a bag full of dreams," running away from the civil war in Nicaragua. He dedicated his Grammy to "all the people in my country who are still struggling to make a better life."
Best regional Mexican album went to ranchera icon Vicente Fernandez' "Necesito de Ti." Best norteño album went to perennial favorites Los Tigres del Norte for "Tu Noche Con...Los Tigres del Norte." Best Tejano album went to Los Texmaniacs' "Borders y Bailes" on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
In one upset, Lupillo Rivera's "Tu Esclavo y Amo" bested current hitmakers La Arrolladora Banda el Limon for best banda album.