Lady Gaga came into the Grammys hidden in an egg but she hatched a winner and had captured three trophies by mid-evening, including best pop vocal album for The Fame Monster.
But while she emerged as one of the US music industry award night’s early leaders, the singer – normally the most flamboyant performer on any bill – found herself out-Gaga’d by Cee Lo Green, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jim Henson Co’s puppets, who gave a hilarious performance of Forget You.
Decked out in feathers of seemingly every hue, Green crooned alongside a gaggle of puppets and Paltrow for the show stopper in a night of performances that included Gaga, a tribute to Aretha Franklin, a retro performance from Bruno Mars, a raspy Bob Dylan and Justin Bieber getting upstaged by 12-year-old Jaden Smith.
British rock band Muse performed on their Grammy debut and won best rock album for The Resistance. They beat out Pearl Jam, Neil Young and British guitarist Jeff Beck, who won twice for instrumental performances.
The performances overshadowed the evening’s early winners. Jay-Z, John Legend and Lady Antebellum joined Gaga with three trophies, making them early winners.
Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, best new artist nominee Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, and gospel singer Yolanda Adams gave their soulful, riffing best in an ear-popping tribute to a recovering Aretha Franklin that kicked off the show.
That performance was followed by a typically over-the-top one by Gaga, who debuted her new anthem Born This Way after appearing out of an Alien-looking cocoon.
Eminem was the leading nominee with 10, but his chance of a huge Grammy sweep was diminished as he lost five of the awards in the pre-telecast ceremony. He still picked up one – best rap solo performance, for Not Afraid.