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From left, Charles Kelly, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum accept award for best country album. ((Matt Sayles/Associated Press) )

Montreal's Arcade Fire and Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young both stood on the Grammy podium Sunday night, winning awards on the American music industry's biggest night.

Arcade Fire was surprise winner of the top prize of the evening — album of the year for The Suburbs. The group won despite missing out on two awards earlier in the day.

The group also made its first Grammy performance to an enthusiastic response from the crowd.

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Singer-songwriter Neil Young accepts the Grammy for best rock song. ((Kevin Winter/Getty Images))

"I just want to say thank you, merci, to Montreal, Quebec, for taking us and giving us a home and place to be in a band," singer Win Butler said in his acceptance speech. 

Winnipeg-raised Young, who now lives in the U.S., claimed a Grammy for best rock song for Angry World in the pre-broadcast ceremony.

"This is my first Grammy for music and it's appreciated greatly," he said in his acceptance speech.

Young never won a Grammy during the 1960s and '70s, but won an award for the packaging of his Archives set and was honoured by MusiCares in 2010 for his charitable work.

Grammy surprises

This year's broadcast ceremony was full of surprises. British group Muse took best rock  album for The Resistance, while jazz artist and bassist Esperanza Spalding was winner in the best new artist category.

 Grammy Awards selected winners
  • Album of the year: The Suburbs, Arcade Fire
  • Record of the year: Need You Now, Lady Antebellum
  • Song of the year: Need You Now, Lady Antebellum
  • Pop vocal album: The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga
  • Best new artist: Esperanza Spalding
  • Best female pop performance: Bad Romance, Lady Gaga
  • Best male pop performance: Just the Way You Are, Bruno Mars
  • Best pop duo: Hey, Soul Sister, Train
  • Best pop album: The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga
  • Female pop vocal performance: Bad Romance,  Lady Gaga
  • Male pop vocal performance:  Just The Way You Are,  Bruno Mars
  • Rock song:  Angry World,  Neil Young
  • R&B album:  Wake up!  John Legend & The Roots
  • R&B song:  Shine,  John Legend & The Roots
  • Rap solo performanceNot Afraid,  Eminem
  • Rap songEmpire State of Mind,  Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
  • Male country vocal performance:  'Til Summer Comes Around, Keith Urban
  • Country performance by a duo or group:  Need You Now,  Lady Antebellum
  • Classical album:  Verdi: Requiem,  Riccardo Muti, conductor 

Country trio Lady Antebellum led the way with five Grammys. Eminem, who went into the awards with 10 nominations, won two — for rap solo performance and rap album for Recovery.

Last year's big winner, Lady Gaga, who took three awards, arrived in a translucent egg carried by men dressed in gold. She was easily upstaged by Cee Lo Green, resplendent in multi-coloured feathers, performing with a Muppet backup band and Gwyneth Paltrow. He did a cleaned-up version of Forget You in a show-stopping performance.

Lady Antebellum also seemed to come out of the blue. Its Grammy performance was a tribute to Teddy Pendergrass, the R&B singer-songwriter who died last year.

The group was clearly shocked to win song of the year for Need You Now, which has been a crossover hit, and members of the band barely held back tears after they went on to win record of the year. Earlier in the day, the group won for country performance, country album and country song.

"This past year has completely changed our life and we love you all so much, thank you," said lead singer Hillary Scott, her voice cracking.

She recalled singing Need You Now on the stage at the Grammys last year and said it has been a wild ride ever since.

Lady Gaga won three awards, including best pop vocal album for The Fame Monster. She thanked Whitney Houston in an emotional speech, saying she wrote the song Born That Way with Houston's voice in mind.

"I had this dream when I was really young, that I could be here if I really wanted to be," she said.

The shape-shifting singer also won one award in the Grammy pre-show — best short form music video for Bad Romance.

The U.S. Recording Academy tapped some of music's best powerhouse vocalists to open the awards ceremony with a tribute to the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin.

Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, and gospel singer Yolanda Adams joined in belting out some of Franklin's greatest hits.

Franklin, who was hospitalized in December for surgery, appeared briefly via video feed early in the ceremony, saying she was sad not to be able to attend. She thanked everybody who sent flowers, prayers and well wishes during her illness.

The tribute was the first of many Grammy pairings throughout the evening. Bruno Mars sang with Janelle Monáe, Drake with Rihanna, and Bob Dylan with Britain's Mumford and Sons. Mick Jagger also made his first Grammy performance.

Canada's Justin Bieber performed a few lines of Baby to a chorus of screams before launching into Never Say Never in performance with Jaden Smith and a complete drum corps. Then they were joined on stage by Usher. 

But the Stratford, Ont., teen came up empty in all Grammy categories where he was nominated, as did Toronto's Drake.

Miranda Lambert performed The House That Built Me, then a few minutes later won the award for best female country performance.

"First Grammy performance ever, first Grammy ever," the 27-year-old singer said. "Thank you so much for loving the song. I know everyone relates to it."

Bublé wins for Crazy Love

Vancouver singer Michael Bublé won the Grammy for best traditional pop vocal album in an afternoon ceremony for the annual awards for the best in American music.

The win cements the success of his fourth studio album, Crazy Love, which spent two weeks atop the charts in Canada and the U.S.

It was the third Grammy for Bublé, who won in the same category in 2008. He wasn't at the pre-gala ceremony to claim his award.

Other Canadians didn't fare as well in early portion of the awards — opera singer Measha Brueggergosman and choral group the Elora Festival Singers were overlooked in their categories.

Rush, who was nominated for concert film Beyond the Lighted Stage, Michael J. Fox, nominated for spoken word album,  and Alberta powwow dance group Northern Cree, nominated for best native American album, also lost in their categories.

Corrections

  • Arcade Fire won album of the year, not record of the year, as reported in an earlier version of this story. Also, Lady Antebellum won five Grammys, not four, as reported in an earlier version of this story.
    Oct 12, 2013 5:28 AM ET
With files from The Associated Press