Surprise Winners at 51st Grammys

Marissa Tarabocchia

At the beginning of the 2009 Grammy Awards, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson declared the event to be “music’s biggest night.”

If anything, the show seemed to reinforce the Academy’s tendency to overlook relevancy in placing its ballots. Ironically, this year’s lineup of performers included a good chunk of Top 40 musicians, namely teen queens Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, the eyebrow-raising Katy Perry and “Rap Pack” members Jay-Z, Kanye West, T.I. and Lil Wayne, to name a few.

Nevertheless, the contemporary flair of the performers did not seem to match the award winners. The performances dominated the telecast with a mere 10 awards given out during the three-and-a-half-hour show.

To give some credit to the Academy, the Grammys started off with a bang. A tearful but glowing Jennifer Hudson accepted the award for Best R&B Album from music legend Whitney Houston.

The recent tragedy that Hudson suffered when three of her family members were murdered encouraged the audience to applaud for her that much more.

The emotional ties to Hudson’s win were obvious, but not overshadowing; her vocal abilities are extraordinary. Hudson’s talent garnered her an Academy Award, and she deserved the musical equivalent of the golden statuette in the form of a Grammy.

Prior to the show, it seemed as though Coldplay was the equivalent of Grammy gold. Its hit single, “Viva La Vida,” soared to the top of both the iTunes and Billboard charts.

Both popular and critically-acclaimed, the band’s album “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends” was globally successful. Coldplay took home Grammys for Song of the Year for “Viva La Vida” and Best Rock Album.

Disney darling Miley Cyrus and country songstress Taylor Swift presented the award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Nominees included popular artists such as Chris Brown, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Madonna and Justin Timberlake.

Several jaws dropped at the announcement of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ “Rich Woman” as the winner. Plant is a former member of renowned rock group Led Zeppelin, while Krauss is a bluegrass singer. The first surprise win of the night occured.

An exciting moment occurred when presenters Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker announced that a new Blink-182 album is in the works.

The Jonas Brothers could not capture the next award for Best New Artist.

Adele, a jazzy, soulful vocalist from across the pond, who gained popularity in America after her “Saturday Night Live” performance, was the recipient, instead.

After some predictable wins for John Mayer (Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, “Say”) and Lil Wayne (Best Rap Album, “Tha Carter III”), the Grammy voters once again showed their allegiance to Plant and Krauss with the next awards.

The duo beat the likes of Leona Lewis (“Bleeding Love”), a very pregnant M.I.A. (“Paper Planes”), the seemingly unstoppable Coldplay (“Viva La Vida”) and Adele (“Chasing Pavements”) to win Record of the Year for “Please Read the Letter.”

Additionally, the duo won the highest honor of the evening, the musical equivalent of the Best Picture Oscar, for Album of the Year (“Raising Sand”). Coldplay (“Viva La Vida”), Radiohead (“In Rainbows”), Ne-Yo (“Year of the Gentleman”) and Lil Wayne (“Tha Carter III”) were all left in the dust. Coldplay, surprisingly, was not the big winner at this ceremony; it was Plant and Krauss.

It can be argued that popularity does not equal quality, and therefore, a popular song, artist or album should not insinuate an automatic Grammy win.

The more times a song is heard and/or downloaded, the greater the opportunity for such impactful results. There is no doubt that Plant and Krauss are dedicated, talented musicians, but their music seems unable to rival the relevancy of other nominations.

Without relevancy, it is difficult to achieve such aforementioned influence.

As Plant appropriately said after winning the Grammy for Album of the year, “I’m bewildered.”