The 2011 Grammys ended with a major shocker as Canadian indie rockers Arcade Fire beat out platinum pop stars Eminem, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry for the night’s big award, Album of the Year for “The Suburbs.”
The eight-member ensemble expressed shock over the unexpected win, opting for an encore performance in lieu of a laundry list of thank yous. Despite finishing a BMX-themed performance of “Month of May” just moments before their big announcement, Arcade Fire hijacked the stage to perform a beaming rendition of “Ready to Start,” a song that ironically challenges the big business aesthetic that the band confronts with its do-it-yourself independent attitude.
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The band got a bit more vocal about their win in the press room after their final performance. “Were we more surprised than Barbra Streisand or less surprised?” the band joked.
“It was shocking,” frontman Win Butler told reporters in the Grammy press room. “The idea never even entered my mid, even the the slightest bit, until when they said the name of the album.”
“This award is for our record,” he continued. “We really believe in records. When we make a record, we really put all of our soul into it. To be recognized for that [by] this group of people, in the age of the iPod or in the age of the single or whatever it is, we still really care about records so it means a lot to us.”
Despite not winning the Album of the Year title, Lady Antebellum still walked away with the most trophies overall, winning Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Country Song and Best Country Performance by Duo/Group for the song “Need You Now.” Additionally, the chart-topping country trio took home the award for Best Country Album, winning five awards total.
“We really wanted to make Nashville and the country music community proud tonight,” said singer Hilary Scott. “I hope that they feel that way and i think it just shows that country music is relevant and it’s relatable. I just hope they think we’re flying the flag right.”
The other big surprise of the night was a Best New Artist win by jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding, who beat out both Justin Bieber and Drake to win the title. “I take this honor to heart so sincerely, and I will do my damndest to make a whole lot of great music for all of you.”
Other big winners included Eminem, who performed alongside Dr. Dre and Rihanna during the show and walked away with a Best Rap Album trophy for “Recovery,” and Lady Gaga, who took home the Best Pop Vocal Album statuette “The Fame Monster.” In addition to thanking her fans and family during her acceptance speech, Gaga gave Whitney Houston an unexpected shout-out. “I want to thank Whitney Houston because when I wrote ‘Born This Way,’ I imagined [she was] singing it,” Gaga told the Grammy crowd.
Shortly after her tender performance of “The House That Built Me,” country songstress Miranda Lambert was awarded her first-ever Grammy, for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. British rockers Muse followed suit, winning Best Rock Album for “The Resistance” after their raucous performance of “Uprising.” In the band’s acceptance speech, frontman Matt Bellamy thanked his nameless “pregnant girlfriend,” otherwise known as actress Kate Hudson.
Train took home the first televised award of the night for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for its ubiquitous song “Hey Soul Sister.” The band humorously thanked Justin Bieber in its speech, specifically for “not being a duo or a group.”
Before the telecast began, many artists took home statues that were given out during the pre-telecast ceremony. The Black Keys led the pack with three awards (Best Alternative Album, Best Rock Performance for Duo/Group for “Tighten Up,” and an award for Art Direction for their album “Brothers”). La Roux took home an award for Best Electronic/Dance Album for her self-titled debut. Additionally, Usher and Fantasia took home awards for Best Male and Best Female R&B Vocal Performances, respectively, for “There Goes My Baby” and “Bittersweet.”