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The Grammys once more [brought] home how powerful a force music can be in bringing us together and helping us through times of crisis. This year's show finally lived up to that promise.
PLANT & KRAUSS RULE, LIL WAYNE, COLDPLAY ALSO SCORE
Adele Wins Two, Including Best New Artist
Not even the absence of Chris Brown and Rihanna could ruin this gala Grammy night.

Give Neil Portnow and producer Ken Ehrlich credit. In some of the bleakest days of recorded music sales, they put on a show that had a little something for everyone, with practically wall-to-wall performances, and a bundle of those coveted Grammy moments.

As expected, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss were the evening's top winners, picking up five statues for Record of the Year (the Page/Plant composition "Please Read the Letter"), Album of the Year (Raising Sand), Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals, Best Country Collaboration With Vocals and Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album.

Lil Wayne took home an impressive four awards of his own: Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance, Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, and Best Rap Song. Coldplay won the coveted Song of the Year honors, in addition to Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocals and Best Rock Album. A show highlight featured the hardest-working rapper in the record biz joining fellow New Orleans legends Allen Toussaint and Terrence Blanchard on-stage.

Cash Money Records CEOs Ronald “Slim” Williams and Bryan “Baby” Williams, who threw their own Mardi Gras-themed bash Saturday night in Beverly Hills to fete their artist, went all out to celebrate their longtime protege's triumph. "We are an independent label and this recognition is validation of all of our hard work over the last 20 years.  To go from selling records out of our cars more than a decade ago to having the #1-selling and Grammy-winning artist, it is really hard to express how much pride we feel at this moment.”

Adele scored perhaps a slight upset, though not really when you consider her momentum, by taking home Best New Artist and Best Pop Performance for a Female, bringing down the house with her rendition of "Chasement Pavements." R&B artists Al Green and Ne-Yo, Kanye West, John Mayer, Brad Paisley, and Sugarland all scored two nods apiece. Duffy's Rockferry won Best Pop Vocal Album.

For a full list of winners, click here.

U2 kicked off the show with a balls-to-the-wall rendition of "Get On Your Boots" against a psychedelic backdrop. Manager Paul McGuinness told us during the Universal Music Group viewing party at the Palm in West Hollywood that it's not cheap to perform at the Grammys but laughed, "We have a very good relationship with our record label." All four members showed up at the party to cheer themselves during the West Coast broadcast, as Bono spent much of the evening in earnest conversation with Sheryl Crow as Jimmy Iovine and Doug Morris looked on.

The evening's magical pairings continued with Justin Timberlake joining the Rev. Al Green alongside Boyz II Men and Keith Urban for a soul stirring "Let's Stay Together," another one of those Grammy classics.

Coldplay was up next with "Lost," Chris Martin at the piano joined halfway through by Jay-Z for a rap that name-checked Notorious B.I.G., Jesus, Caesar, Brutus and L.A. Reid. Hey, only kidding about the last one.  They followed with their Grammy-winning Song of the Year, "Viva La Vida," with neither Joe Satriani nor his lawyers anywhere in sight. Carrie Underwood then performed "Last Name."

Kid Rock performed "All Summer Long," then it was teen divas Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus doing the former's "Fifteen," which only made us feel about four times that.

Our choice for the weekend's MVP, Best R&B Album winner Jennifer Hudson, fresh off her knockout performance at MusiCares of Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy," and her stint at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy bash,  tackled an upbeat "You Pulled Me Through" with emotion to spare, as she fought off some tears.

Stevie Wonder and the Jonas Brothers played a medley that included the Jonases' "Burnin' Up" and Wonder's classic "Superstition."

Katy Perry swung in on a giant golden banana to deliver her smash "I Kissed a Girl" with a special twist, as videos from the finalists to this year's My Grammy Moment contest flashed on screens behind her.

Kanye West then performed Song of the Year nominee "American Boy" with English songstress Estelle, followed by Kenny Chesney singing "Better As A Memory" with a stark acoustic turn.  

A very pregnant M.I.A. was due to give birth, but instead was joined by a hip-hop all-star front line of T.I., Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Kanye West to deliver "Swagga Like Us," which samples her own Record of the Year-nominated "Paper Planes," for arguably the jaw-dropping moment of the night.

Sir Paul McCartney took it back to the roots with a rendition of the Beatles classic "I Saw Her Standing There" with Foo Fighter Dave Grohl on drums and Macca's longtime lead guitarist Rusty Anderson turning in a blazing solo. 

Jennifer Nettles and Sugarland performed "Stay," joined by Adele, who then sang her Grammy-winning "Chasing Pavements."

Gwyneth Paltrow introduced Radiohead, which hadn't performed on live U.S. TV since 2000 as Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood played "15 Step" with the USC Marching Band, whose massive percussion section pounded away on the polyrhythmic groove, providing one of the evening's unqualified highlights.

Justin Timberlake returned with T.I. for "Dead And Gone," followed by Lifetime Achievement Award recipients the Four Tops as Abdul "Duke" Fakir leaned into a classic Motown medley of "Reach Out I'll Be There," "Standing In The Shadows Of Love” and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," with Smokey Robinson, Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo each taking vocal turns.

MusiCares Person of the Year Neil Diamond got the crowd (including Macca) to sing along to "Sweet Caroline," then it was a guitar extravanganza featuring Buddy Guy, B.B. King, John Mayer and Urban with a tribute to the late Bo Diddley, who died in June.

Melding the distinct genres of hip-hop, R&B and jazz in a tribute to the still-recuperating city of New Orleans, native sons Lil Wayne, Allen Toussaint and Terence Blanchard, along with Robin Thicke, took the stage for a medley of "Tie My Hands," "Big Chief" and "Feet Don't Fail Me Now," backed by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band overa backdrop of Katrina footage.

The climactic performance featured the evening's big winners, Krauss and Plant with producer T Bone Burnett, who played their Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals winner "Rich Woman" into "Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved Out)," spanning the connection between their Americana roots country-blues and the electric rock of Plant's Led Zeppelin days. Somewhere, Peter Mensch was gnashing his teeth.

Stevie Wonder closed the show with "All About The Love Again," an uplifting anthem for our current period of uncertainty and hardship, the Grammys once more bringing home how powerful a force music can be in bringing us together and helping us through times of crisis. This year's show finally lived up to that promise.

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