The New York City pop-rock trio, with the kooky stylized name, took home two of the night's biggest awards — winning song of the year for the hit “We Are Young” and snatching the title of best new artist.
In a rather wide-open night, fun. came the closest to being the Grammy big winner.
At first, it looked like fun. might sweep the four so-called “general field” categories, thus becoming the first artist to do so in a single year since Christopher Cross in 1981. Yet, Gotye ended that possibility when his ubiquitous “Somebody That I Used to Know” took record of the year.
A bigger surprise came when Mumford & Sons scored the evening's top prize, album of the year, for “Babel” — even though many believe that the British folk-rock band's sophomore effort isn't nearly as strong as its debut, 2009's “Sigh No More.”
It was that kind of a night on Sunday as the awards were handed out during the 55th annual ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
No one had an Adele-style night, dominating the awards like the British singer did in 2012. And many of the choices were real head scratchers.
Let's start with honoring fun. as “best new artist.” Not bad for a band that put out an album four years ago with 2009's “Aim and Ignite.” The band should not have been eligible.
And fun. apparently agrees. Right after “We Are Young” won for song of the year, fun. lead vocalist Nate Ruess used part of the acceptance speech to recognize just how long the band has been in the game.
“I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote the chorus (for `We Are Young'),” he said. “This is in HD and everybody can see our faces. We are not very young.”
It all starts, of course, with the nominees. With the exception of the best new artist category, the fields for the big awards were all rather weak, due partly to Grammys' ongoing reluctance to recognize hip-hop.
Voters really missed the boat with Frank Ocean. That rising soul star, whose “Channel Orange” was arguably the most acclaimed album of last year, was nominated (and lost) in three of the four big categories — record of the year, album of the year and best new artist. That could come back to haunt Grammy voters, especially if Gotye and fun. start playing county fairs sometime in the very near future.
It was, however, nice to see Ocean win for best album trophy in the urban contemporary field (whatever that is) over his nemesis Chris Brown. Yet, his performance late in the show of “Forrest Gump” (the song, not the movie) was less than inspiring. Couldn't he have sung “Thinkin Bout You”?
Grammy voters also gave a big thumbs down to Carly Rae Jepsen's “Call Me Maybe,” although it may well be the most perfectly crafted pop hit of recent years. The tune lost to the fun. cut “We Are Young” for song of the year, which was somewhat expected. Yet, there's no way it should have lost in the best pop solo performance category to Adele's “Set Fire to the Rain,” a live take on a song that was originally released in mid-2011.
The biggest disappointment, at least to old-school hip-hop fans, was that Nas' failed to win in any of the four rap categories. The victors, who included Jay-Z and Drake, were all very deserving. Yet, it sure would've been nice to see Nas finally win his first Grammy Award.