Coldplay won the first of the Grammy Awards’ big three honors Sunday evening, taking home song of the year — a songwriters’ honor — for "Viva La Vida," from the band’s album of the same name.
“Thank you and sorry to Sir Paul McCartney for blatantly recycling the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ outfits,” the band’s Will Champion said, noting the group’s colorful attire. “Viva La Vida” is also up for the other two major honors, record of the year and album of the year. Earlier in the show, one big-voiced vocalist honored another as Whitney Houston presented Jennifer Hudson with the first Grammy Award of the evening, for best R&B album. “I’d like to thank my family in heaven and those who are here today,” she said, her voice catching. “Everybody, thank you all,” she concluded. Hudson’s mother and brother were murdered last October. Sugarland won best country duo or group performance with vocals for “Stay.” Backed by a giant screen proclaiming, “Let me in the sound” and other lyrics, U2 kicked off the 51st annual music awards with a rousing rendition of the band’s new single, “Get On Your Boots.” Despite her pregnancy, M.I.A. was determined to make the Grammys. The vocalist, whose “Paper Planes” is up for record of the year, is ready to give birth. In fact, her due date was Sunday, but she walked the red carpet, looking dazzling in a blue patterned dress that couldn’t help but show off her very pregnant form. “It’s working its way down right now,” she told CNN, patting her belly. “I’m taking it 10 minutes by 10 minutes by 10 minutes.” Given the happy circumstances, she considers herself a winner either way, she said. Watch M.I.A. talk about her music and her work » There were already quite a number of people with awards. The Grammys have more than 100 categories, and most honors are given out before the show. A few went to some of the most notable nominees. Lil’ Wayne, who received the most nominations with eight, won Grammys for best rap performance and best rap song. Coldplay, which earned seven nominations, won best pop performance by a duo or group with vocals. Both artists are up for album of the year. George Carlin won best comedy album Grammy for “It’s Bad for Ya,” a recording of his last HBO special. It was the late comedian’s fifth Grammy Award. His daughter, Kelly, accepted on his behalf, saying she’d take better care of it than Carlin did with his first Grammy — which was taken apart in a “chemically induced, altered state,” she said. Other winners included Alicia Keys, B.B. King and R&B singer Ne-Yo.
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Ne-Yo said he didn’t have a speech prepared for any awards he wins on the broadcast. “That would assume victory,” he told CNN on the red carpet, impishly showing his “if-anybody-but-Ne-Yo-wins face.” The Grammys this year are notable for the vast number of live performances — 24, according to reports. Among them is Hudson, who sang “Holly Holy” Friday at the special show for the MusiCares Person of the Year, Neil Diamond. She is scheduled to sing an emotional ballad, “You Pulled Me Through,” on the show. However, two scheduled performers — Rihanna and Chris Brown — pulled out of the performance. Los Angeles police were looking for Brown after receiving an early-morning domestic violence report. Authorities say Brown and a woman were involved in an argument in a vehicle. After stopping his car, the argument escalated when Brown stopped the car and the woman got out, the Los Angeles Police Department said, citing the victim’s account. A representative for Brown at the ICM agency in Los Angeles could not immediately be reached for comment. Though the performances are often praised, the Grammys have been frequently mocked for their middle-of-the-road honors. However, there will certainly be many chances for the Grammys to give awards to both popular and relatively cutting-edge performers. Rapper Lil’ Wayne received eight nominations, including album of the year for his “Tha Carter III.” Coldplay earned seven nods, including album of the year for “Viva La Vida” and record of the year for the title track. Among others with multiple nominations are Ne-Yo, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, Radiohead and newcomer Jazmine Sullivan. Blender’s Joe Levy said this year’s album of the year category — which also includes Plant and Krauss’ “Raising Sand,” Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” and Ne-Yo’s “Year of the Gentleman” — looks to be competitive. Even if the award goes to Plant and Krauss’ minimalist, T Bone Burnett-produced album — the “adult” favorite — it’s still OK, says Levy.
“Raising Sand” is “a classy grown-up record — a subdued sound, and if that wins album of the year, then, you know what The dude from Led Zeppelin won album of the year,” Levy said. “The people at the Grammys are trying to figure out how to be classy and grown up, but still cool.”