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Grammy Awards: Complete Coverage

The list of winners, photos, Rob Sheffield’s minute-by-minute commentary and more. Plus: Who is Esperanza Spalding?

Win Butler of Arcade Fire with his Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty

After an incredible Grammy awards – featuring amazing performances by Arcade Fire, Muse, Mick Jagger, Eminem, Bob Dylan, Cee Lo and many more – everybody has just one question: Who the hell is Esperanza Spalding? The 26-year-old bassist and jazz singer was up against Justin Bieber, Mumford & Songs, Florence & The Machine and Drake for Best New Artist, and absolutely nobody thought that she had even the slightest chance of winning.

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Even Spalding herself seemed dumfounded by the news. “I know I don’t have a lot of time, so first, thank you to the academy for even nominating me in this category,” she said as she held her hand to her heart. “I take this honor to heart so sincerely, and I’ll do my damndest to make a whole lot of great music for all of you.”

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It’s important to remember that as hard as the Grammys have tried to be contemporary in recent years, it’s the same organization that gave Herbie Hancock Album of the Year in 2008 for River: The Joni Letters, his jazz-infused tribute to the music of Joni Mitchell. The voters are also on the older side, and they tend to reward new artists that embrace older forms of music. Amy Winehouse dominated in 2008 not only because she was insanely talented, but also because her sound was a throwback to the 1960s girl-groups.

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That’s not to suggest that Spalding’s only appeal to voters was the fact that she isn’t a typical pop artist. Over the last five years the jazz prodigy has quietly carved out a nice career for herself. She played for Obama at the White House, appeared in a Banana Republic ad, honored Prince at the BET Awards, performed on Austin City Limits and even taught at the Berklee College of Music.

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She also released three acclaimed albums. Rolling Stone gave her 2010 album Chamber Music Society three stars. “Her talent is undeniable,” Mark Kemp wrote. “The chamber setting provides a feathery pillow for moody tracks like ‘Little Fly,’ William Blake’s poem set to lovely bass and strings.”

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Three days ago she spoke to the Associated Press about how her performance at the BET Awards led to an epiphany about her role in the industry. “I was really on this mission to figure out how I was going to take my music and make it accessible to the pop world,” she said she thought before the show. “‘How am I going to turn this into like an Alicia Keys thing?’ Every person looked like a California raisin. The industry has surrounded them with all of these superficial pyrotechnics and I think it’s really sucked the life out of their creative spirit, and I find that really sad. I decided that I was just happy to be a visitor from the liberated realm of jazz, and I decided then, whatever happens, I always want to be surveyor of the territory.”

This is not the first time that the Grammy Award for Best New Artist was a relative unknown. In 1977 Starland Vocal Band won the award over superstars Boston and two years later A Taste of Honey beat Elvis Costello and The Cars. Christopher Cross won over The Pretenders in 1981, and in 1990 Milli Vanilli won – only to give the award back months later when it was revealed they had lip-synced.

Video: Rolling Stone Editors Handicap This Year’s Nominees

This is the first time, however, that a jazz artist has won the award. Hopefully Spalding will have a longer career than past winners Men At Work, The Swingle Sisters, Debby Boone, Jody Watley and Paula Cole.

Kanye West didn’t seem thrilled by the news. “Damn,” he tweeted. “I can’t find the words to explain how I feel about the best new artist award… Don’t wanna say the wrong thing.”

Winners appear in bold.

Album of the Year:
Arcade Fire, The Suburbs 
• Eminem, Recovery
• Lady Antebellum, Need You Now 
• Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster 
• Katy Perry, Teenage Dream

Record of the Year:
• B.o.B feat. Bruno Mars, “Nothin’ on You”
• Eminem feat. Rihanna, “Love the Way You Lie”
• Cee Lo Green, “F*** You”
• Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”
Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”

Best Rock Album:
• Jeff Beck, Emotion & Commotion
• Muse, The Resistance (Winner)
• Pearl Jam, Backspacer
• Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Mojo
• Neil Young, Le Noise

Best Rap Album:
• B.o.B, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray
• Drake, Thank Me Later
Eminem, Recovery
• Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3
• The Roots, How I Got Over

Best New Artist:
• Justin Bieber
• Drake
• Florence and the Machine
• Mumford and Sons
Esperanza Spalding

Best Alternative:
• Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
• Band of Horses, Infinite Arms
• The Black Keys, Brothers 
• Broken Bells, Broken Bells
• Vampire Weekend, Contra

Song of the Year:
• Ray LaMontagne, “Beg Steal or Borrow”
• Cee-Lo, “Fuck You”
• Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”
• Eminem feat. Rihanna, “Love the Way You Lie”
• Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance:
• Sara Bareilles, “King of Anything”
• Beyoncé, “Halo (Live)”
• Norah Jones, “Chasing Pirates”
• Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”
• Katy Perry, “Teenage Dream”

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance:
• Michael Bublé, “Haven’t Met You Yet”
• Michael Jackson, “This Is It”
• Adam Lambert, “Whataya Want From Me”
• Bruno Mars, “Just the Way You Are”
• John Mayer, “Half of My Heart”

Best Pop Performance By a Duo Or Group With Vocals:
• Glee Cast, “Don’t Stop Believing (Regionals Version)”
• Maroon 5, “Misery”
• Paramore, “The Only Exception”
• Sade, “Babyfather”
• Train, “Hey, Soul Sister (Live)”

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals:
• B.o.B., Eminem and Hayley Williams, “Airplanes, Part II”
• Herbie Hancock, Pink, India.Arie, Seal, Konono No 1, Jeff Beck & Oumou Sangare, “Imagine”
• Elton John and Leon Russell, “If It Wasn’t For Bad”
• Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, “Telephone”
• Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg, “California Gurls”

Best Pop Vocal Album:
• Justin Bieber, My World 2.0
• Susan Boyle, I Dreamed a Dream
• Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster
• John Mayer, Battle Studies
• Katy Perry, Teenage Dream

Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance:
• Paul McCartney, “Helter Skelter”
• Eric Clapton, “Run Back To Your Side”
• John Mayer, “Crossroads”
• Robert Plant, “Silver Rider”
• Neil Young, “Angry World”

Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals:
• The Black Keys, “Tighten Up”
• Arcade Fire, “Ready to Start”
• Jeff Beck and Joss Stone, “I Put a Spell On You”
• Kings of Leon, “Radioactive”
• Muse, “Resistance”


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