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Robert Plant and Alison Krauss win a leading five Grammys

LOS ANGELES - In the end, the 51st Grammy Awards went young, but not that young.

LOS ANGELES - In the end, the 51st Grammy Awards went young, but not that young.

Though the show will be rightfully applauded for celebrating a wide swath of edgy, contemporary music, an established act ultimately won the day.

"Raising Sand" - the collaboration between 60-year-old heavy metal pioneer Robert Plant and 37-year-old bluegrass singer Alison Krauss - took a leading five trophies, including album of the year and record of the year.

New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne was next with four wins, while Brit-poppers Coldplay nabbed three trophies.

Krauss now owns a staggering 26 career Grammys - she already had more than any other female artist before the show started. Plant, who never won while fronting Led Zeppelin, has seven. They also won best pop collaboration with vocals for "Rich Woman," which they later performed, best contemporary folk/Americana album and best country collaboration with vocals for "Killing the Blues."

"We are thrilled and very grateful," Krauss said. "It's been a wonderful time."

"I'm bewildered," added Plant. "In the old days we would have called this selling out, but I think it's a good way to spend a Sunday."

Lil Wayne - who led with eight nominations going into the show and whose album "Tha Carter III" sold more copies than anything else in 2008 - won for best best rap album, best rap performance for "A Milli," best rap song for "Lollipop" and best rap performance by a duo or group, which he shared with T.I., Jay-Z and Kanye West for "Swagga Like Us."

The 26-year-old, who's nicknamed Weezy for his scratchy drawl, later performed a medley that included "Tie My Hands," his ode to post-Katrina New Orleans. Robin Thicke, son of Canadian actor Alan Thicke, sang with him on the performance.

Upon reaching the stage to accept best rap album, the heavily tattooed rapper hopped in the air and clicked his heels.

"Thank god, thank New Orleans, thank these people you see right here, and thank you," said Lil Wayne, who accepted the award with a group that included his young daughter.

Coldplay, meanwhile, took best rock album for "Viva La Vida," best pop performance by a duo or group with vocals and song of the year for "Viva La Vida."

That award is given to the songwriter, not performer, which is notable because Joe Satriani has filed a lawsuit against Coldplay claiming that they swiped the riff from his 2004 instrumental "If I Could Fly" for the hit track.

"Thank you so much, we've never had so many Grammys in our lives," said frontman Chris Martin, who earlier performed on piano with New York rapper Jay-Z before joining his group onstage for "Viva La Vida. "I'm going to tear up, it's going to be crazy."

Most Grammy shows are notable partially for what goes wrong, and this year's edition wasn't without its own headline-grabbing controversy.

Barbadian singer Rihanna was scheduled to perform a medley of "Live Your Life" and "Disturbia" with longtime boyfriend Chris Brown. Her performance was cancelled just before showtime amid news that police were investigating Brown - a double Grammy nominee - for an alleged assault on an unidentified woman. Police said Brown later turned himself in to authorities.

As the news about Brown's arrest spread through the Staples Center, Al Green took Rihanna's place onstage to sing a spirited version of "Let's Stay Together" with Justin Timberlake, Boyz II Men and Keith Urban.

Brown's scheduled performance of "Forever" was skipped entirely.

Another singer who has been in the news, however, provided an early highlight.

An emotional Jennifer Hudson accepted the award for best R&B album - her first Grammy. She has only recently returned to the spotlight after being in seclusion since the October slayings of her mother, brother and nephew.

"I would like to thank my family in heaven, and those who are here today," said Hudson, who later broke down in tears after a powerful rendition of "You Pulled Me Through."

In another of the night's compelling storylines, a very pregnant M.I.A. - who was actually scheduled to deliver her baby on Sunday night - braved the stage to perform with West, T.I., Lil Wayne and Jay-Z on "Swagga Like Us," which samples her hit, "Paper Planes."

She had previously expressed concern about inducing labour during the show, but didn't seem concerned while onstage - hopping from side to side in a strange outfit that featured polka dots across her chest and belly.

"Let's give her a big hand for going through all that," said actress Kate Beckinsale following the performance.

Added Estelle, whose "American Boy" won best rap/sung collaboration: "I was like, oh my god, she's going to break any minute now."

British singer Adele won best new artist, Sugarland, with their second award of the evening, took best country performance by a duo or group with vocals, Radiohead won best alternative album and John Mayer nabbed two trophies, including best male pop vocal performance.

Last year's show - one of the worst-rated in Grammy history - ended with Herbie Hancock pulling off an upset win for album of the year.

This year, the show boasted a relevant list of nominees and seemed to make an effort to appeal to both younger fans and music lovers.

Though U2 wasn't nominated, the Irish band kicked off the show with its frontman sporting a new look.

Bono wore clear shades in place of his usual black ones, then ditched them to reveal heavy black eyeliner as his band performed their new single, "Get On Your Boots."

McCartney, keyed by some aggressive drumming from Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, howled through a blistering take on the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There."

With Radiohead making their first appearance on U.S. television since 2000, the University of Southern California marching band gave the British band's "15 Steps" even more pounding rhythmic heft.

And Atlanta rapper T.I., performing live for the last time before heading to prison in March to serve a one-year weapons sentence, was accompanied by Timberlake on piano for an impassioned take on "Dead and Gone." He finished the song staring down at his shoes, while Timberlake rose to applaud him.

In other performances, soul legend Stevie Wonder teamed up with teen-pop act the Jonas Brothers, Carrie Underwood belted a rocked-out "Last Name" and Katy Perry pranced through a super-suggestive performance of her hit, "I Kissed a Girl."

And Neil Diamond, who was honoured at a gala event on Friday, sang "Sweet Caroline."

A number of artists pulled down multiple Grammy awards in the afternoon ceremony, where the bulk of trophies are handed out, including Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, French dance duo Daft Punk and neo-soul crooner Ne-Yo and soul legend Green, who had surprisingly only ever won one Grammy prior to Sunday.

So how was the reverend going to celebrate?

"I'm going to repent because I wasn't at church this morning," Green said backstage afterwards. "That's No. 1."

Canadian Grammy hopefuls, meanwhile, went home disappointed.

Montreal-born film director Jason Reitman picked up a trophy for the soundtrack to his teenage pregnancy movie, "Juno," but all other Canadian nominees were shut out.

Reitman called the Grammy - the first to be handed out at the afternoon ceremony before the televised gala - an "enormous surprise," adding that he came to the show to watch McCartney and Timberlake.

 
 
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