Grammys 2015: Sam Smith takes 4 trophies at the annual music awards
'It was when I started to be myself that the music flowed,' the night's big winner says
The 57th annual edition of the American music industry awards, held at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., saw the British soul singer take three of the top four awards Sunday night, including song of the year for Stay With Me.
Smith's golden streak started early in the evening, with the 22-year-old crooner taking the first trophy of the night, the coveted best new artist award.
Smith, who also won best pop vocal album for The Lonely Hour, revealed that he only found success in music once he found his own voice.
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"I just want to say that before I made this record, I was doing everything to try to get my music heard," said Smith.
"I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music. It was when I started to be myself that the music flowed," he told the crowd.
He also thanked the man who broke his heart, inspiring him to write his multiple award-winning album.
"We've got four Grammys," Smith exclaimed, pumping the statuette into the air.
Off to a rocking start
Australian rock band AC/DC kicked off the night with a thunderous medley, including Rock or Bust and Highway to Hell, bringing the well-heeled crowd to their feet.
Rapper and actor LL Cool J performed MC duties for the fourth consecutive year.
The 33-year-old superstar thanked him, God, and her loyal fans — known as her "bey-hive" — while accepting the award.
Beyoncé also took home producing accolades. Her self-titled album won best surround sound album.
Pharrell Williams's early lead
Pop music singer and producing phenom Pharrell Williams won three times on the night, including best pop solo performance for Happy (Live).
Williams also nabbed the award for best urban contemporary album for Girl before the televised portion of the evening.
The biggest surprise of the night came when Beck nabbed the show's top prize, album of the year, for his 12th studio album Morning Phase.
Just as the amazed-looking rocker arrived on stage to accept the honour, Beck got another shock: Kanye West bum-rushing the stage.
But instead of hijacking the mic to object the win, as he did with Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, West quickly backed down and returned to his seat.
Other winners include:
- Rock performance: Lazaretto, Jack White.
- Country solo performance: Something in the Water, Carrie Underwood.
- Country album. Platinum, Miranda Lambert.
- Country duo/group performance: Gentle on My Mind, The Band Perry.
- Country song: I'm Not Gonna Miss You, Glen Campbell.
- Pop duo/group performance: Say Something, A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera.
- Traditional pop vocal album: Cheek to Cheek, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett.
- Rock performance: Lazaretto, Jack White.
- Rock song: Ain't It Fun, Hayley Williams and Taylor York.
- Rap performance: i, Kendrick Lamar.
- Rap/sung collaboration: The Monster, Eminem and Rihanna.
- Rap song: i, Kendrick Lamar.
- Rap album, The Marshall Mathers LP2, Eminem.
- R&B album: Love, Marriage & Divorce, Toni Braxton and Babyface.
Premium performances, and unlikely pairings
Madonna, who wore matador-inspired head wear on the red carpet, continued the bullfighting theme on stage.
Horned backup dancers undulated around the 56-year-old material girl while she belted out her new single Living For Love from her upcoming Rebel Heart album.
Annie Lennox was a powerhouse when she sang I Put A Spell On You and joined Hozier for Take Me to Church, nominated for song off the year.
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Pharrell's performance of Happy was dramatic with background dancers in black, musicians in yellow and a choir in white.
When the chorus was supposed to come in, Lang Lang played the piano skillfully. Hans Zimmer also played the guitar.
"Thank you, God," Pharrell, in a bell-boy hat, said at the end of the performance. "I am at your service, Lord."
Music with a message
Things took a serious turn when a domestic abuse survivor and activist opened for pop star Katy Perry. Introduced by U.S. President Barack Obama, Brooke Axtell, spoke powerfully about the moment she choose to leave a violent relationship.
"If you are in a relationship with someone who does not honour and respect you, I want you to know that you are worthy of love," Axtell urged the audience.
At the climax of Axtell's speech, Perry appeared in an angelic white cape and broke in emotional rendition of her ballad By The Grace of God.
Keeping with the heavenly theme, Beyoncé performed the gospel traditional Take My Hand, Precious Lord dressed in an ethereal glittering gown. The hymn served to open the stage for John Legend and Common who wrapped up the show with a moving performance of the song Glory from the soundtrack of civil rights movie Selma.
Canadians shut out
Canadians took a beating at this year's Grammys. Toronto rap superstar Drake was shut out of three categories, while Montreal's Arcade Fire lost out in two, including best music video and alternative music album. Deadmau5, the Ontario-born electronic music producer and DJ, also missed the ticket, losing best dance/electronic album to Aphex Twin.
With files from The Associated Press