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Grammys show Robert Plant, Alison Krauss a whole lotta love

By JAKE COYLE AP Entertainment Writer Modified: February 9, 2009 at 12:46 pm •  Published: February 9, 2009
LOS ANGELES — The 51st annual Grammys was an all-ages affair ultimately dominated by a rock legend who took up with a younger bluegrass singer on a whim.

The unlikely pairing of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss that produced the hit album "Raising Sand," on Sunday won five Grammys including album of the year. The former Led Zeppelin frontman, previously best known for his high-decibel shrieking and rock star theatrics, found more docile Nashville melodies with Krauss.

While accepting the Grammy for album of the year, the 37-year-old Krauss — perhaps wanting to remind the audience that Plant's rock star hadn't entirely matured — said there's "never a dull moment" with the 60-year-old singer.

"Raising Sand," produced by T Bone Burnett, bested fellow nominees Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Coldplay and Radiohead. Their "Please Read the Letter" also won record of the year.

"I'm bewildered," said Plant. "In the old days we would have called this selling out, but I think it's a good way to spend a Sunday."

In a performance-stuffed live broadcast on CBS, the subject of age — and intertwining musical realms — was always close at hand.

Taylor Swift, 19, and Miley Cyrus, 16, sang a duet of Swift's "Fifteen." The 66-year-old Paul McCartney, with 40-year-old Dave Grohl on drums, sang the Beatles classic about a girl who "was just 17."

Stevie Wonder performed with the Jonas Brothers, and even a nine-months pregnant woman — the rapper M.I.A. — hobbled out on the stage to join the dapperly dressed Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and T.I. in a "rap summit" performance of T.I.'s "Swagger Like Us."

Before the night's end, Plant and Krauss seemed to be in a three-horse race with Lil Wayne and Coldplay — a trio of acts of wildly different sounds.

Lil Wayne — who led the field with eight nominations — won three awards, including best rap album for "Tha Carter III," for which he literally hopped on stage to receive. (His tally came to four Grammys if you count his inclusion on "Swagger Like Us," which won best rap performance by a duo or group.)

Coldplay also took home three awards, including best rock album for "Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends."

"We've never had so many Grammys in our life," said lead singer Chris Martin, perhaps so excited he got confused (they had already won four over the years). "We feel so grateful to be here. I'm going to tear up."

The Grammys this year offered a CBS telecast without a host and — unexpectedly — without several performers.

Rihanna and Chris Brown, both nominated for awards and scheduled to perform, were absent after the Los Angeles Police Department announced that Brown — who is dating Rihanna — was the subject of an investigation into a felony domestic violence battery from around 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

Brown turned himself in to police late Sunday and was released after posting bail. Police booked the 19-year-old R&B singer on suspicion of making a criminal threat.

To fill in for Rihanna's scheduled performance, the Recording Academy hastily put together an ensemble of Al Green, Justin Timberlake, Boyz II Men and Keith Urban performing Green's "Let's Stay Together."

One of the night's superior performances, it reflected the comments of producer T. Bone Burnett, who explained while accepting the award for record of the year: "Good things happen out of nowhere."

"Things happen; you have to be nimble," said Recording Academy president Neil Portnow after the show, explaining he didn't know of the absences until Sunday afternoon. "We think to ourselves, we've got the greatest musical talent in the world in the same place at the same time."

The broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles sometimes had the appearance of a bubble. No mention was made of economic troubles across the country or of the music industry's continuing declining sales. Though download sales are rising, album sales dropped 14 percent last year.

Even the election of Barack Obama was hardly referred to. StaticBlog at the Grammys

A partial list of winners at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards:

• Album of the Year: "Raising Sand,” Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

• Rap Album: "Tha Carter III,” Lil Wayne

• Male Pop Vocal Performance: "Say,” John Mayer

• Record of the Year: "Please Read The Letter,” Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

• New Artist: Adele

• Rock Album: "Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends,” Coldplay

• Song of the Year: "Viva La Vida,” Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin, songwriters (Coldplay)

• Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: "Stay,” Sugarland

• R&B Album: "Jennifer Hudson,” Jennifer Hudson

• Female Pop Vocal Performance: "Chasing Pavements,” Adele

• Pop Vocal Album: "Rockferry,” Duffy

• Pop Instrumental Performance: "I Dreamed There Was No War,” Eagles

• Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: "Viva La Vida,” Coldplay

• Alternative Music Album: "In Rainbows,” Radiohead

• Solo Rock Vocal Performance: "Gravity,” John Mayer

• Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: "Sex on Fire,” Kings of Leon

• Hard Rock Performance: "Wax Simulacra,” The Mars Volta

• Metal Performance: "My Apocalypse,” Metallica

• Rock Song: "Girls in Their Summer Clothes,” Bruce Springsteen

• Rap Solo Performance: "A Milli,” Lil Wayne

• Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: "Swagga Like Us,” Jay-Z and T.I. featuring Kanye West and Lil Wayne

• Rap/Song Collaboration: "American Boy,” Estelle and Kanye West

• Rap Song: "Lollipop,” Dwayne Carter, Darius Harrison, James Scheffer, Stephen Garrett and Rex Zamor, songwriters (Lil Wayne featuring Static Major)

• Country Song: "Stay,” Jennifer Nettles, songwriter (Sugarland)

• Country Album: "Troubadour,” George Strait

• Female Country Vocal Performance: "Last Name,” Carrie Underwood

• Male Country Vocal Performance: "Letter to Me,” Brad Paisley

• R&B Song: "Miss Independent,” Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen and Shaffer Smith

• Contemporary R&B Album: "Growing Pains,” Mary J. Blige

• Gospel Song: "Help Me Believe,” Kirk Franklin

• Rock or Rap Gospel Album: "Alive and Transported,” TobyMac

• Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album: "Thy Kingdom Come,” CeCe Winans

• Southern, Country, Bluegrass Gospel: "Lovin’ Life,” Gaither Vocal Band

• Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: "Down to Earth” ("WALL-E”)


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