Pop divas Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift stole the show at Sunday night's Grammy Awards.
The 52nd edition of the music industry's salute to itself was a showcase for female talent from past and present as they dominated the stage at the show broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Leading the pack was Beyoncé with a record six awards, including Song of the Year for Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) , and Best Female Vocal Performance for her single Halo . Hot country newcomer Taylor Swift collected four statuettes, including the coveted Grammy for Album of the Year, for the multi-million-selling Fearless.
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"Oh wow - thank you so much! I just hope that you know how much this means to me.... that we get to take this back to Nashville," said Swift.
"Oh my God, our families are freaking out in their living rooms," she added. "My dad and my little brother are losing their minds in the living room right now."
Pop-dance diva Lady Gaga claimed two awards.
In off-camera honours presented before the show, Neil Young collected a Grammy for best boxed or special limited edition package, given for the elaborately designed first volume of his long-awaited Archives collection. The Toronto-born singer's first-ever Grammy came only days after he was celebrated on Friday night as the MusiCares Person of the Year, which recognizes an artist's philanthropy.
Young had the opportunity to add to his tally later, but lost out best solo rock vocal performance to Bruce Springsteen.
Canadian Michael J. Fox, who was raised in Burnaby, B.C., picked up the prize pre-broadcast for best spoken word album for his reading of Always Looking Up , a memoir about his battle with Parkinson's disease. And crooner Michael Bublé won best traditional pop vocal album for Michael Bublé Meets Madison Square Garden . Bublé won the same category in 2008. Neither Bublé nor Fox was present at the pre-show.
Among Sunday night's surprises, the offspring of the late Michael Jackson showed up to accept an award during the tribute to the former King of Pop. "Our father was always concerned about the planet and humanity," said Prince Jackson. "We will continue to spread his message and help the world. Thank you. We love you, Daddy."
The Grammys show began with Lady Gaga performing her single Poker Face , before segueing into a duet with pop legend Elton John.
In other categories, The Black-Eyed Peas and Kings of Leon collected three Grammys, while Maxwell, Jay-Z, Eminem, Jason Mraz and Bela Fleck were each two-time winners.
The Grammy winner for Best Comedy Album was TV fixture Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report , for his accompanying soundtrack to his 2008 Christmas special. Colbert drew a few murmurs from the crowd during his acceptance speech, when he said, "This is a Christmas album, so obviously I should thank Jesus Christ for having such a great birthday."
But mostly it was the ladies who stole the scene. Hours after Swift won two awards during the non-televised part of the show, she climbed the stage again to claim the prize for best country album.
"I just keep thinking back to when you're in second grade and you sing at your talent show for the first time and people joke around and say: 'Maybe we'll see you at the Grammys some day,' and that just feels like an impossible dream," said Swift. "I just feel like I'm standing here accepting an impossible dream and I thank you so much for that."
Swift also performed on the show and appeared in a duet with former Fleetwood Mac vocalist Stevie Nicks.
Beyoncé also won best R&B contemporary album for I Am ... Sasha Fierce , best R&B female vocal for Single Ladie s, best traditional R&B performance for At Last and best R&B song.
Lady Gaga, who wore enormous purple sequined shoulder pads for her opening number, earned honours for best dance recording ( Poker Face ) and best electronic/dance album ( The Fame ).
In other notable female-artist performances, Pink performed her contemplative piano ballad Glitter in the Air while suspended high above the crowd. Dressed (but only barely so) in weaving white ribbons, she spun around and around while water droplets fell to the crowd below and scantily clad acrobats circled higher still. "That was amazing!" Keith Urban blurted out as he took the stage afterwards to present an award.
Beyoncé marched onstage wearing a black minidress, surrounding by male dancers encased in armour and helmets to perform her soaring anthem, If I Were a Boy . The singer also worked in a sampling of Alanis Morissette's You Oughta Know .
The Black Eyed Peas went for a similar black-steel motif, with Will.i.am rapping behind a metal facemask with an ammo belt slung over his shoulder. The band segued from Imma Be to I Gotta Feeling while a video collage of fan-generated YouTube clips aired on a giant screen (along with celebrity cameos from the likes of 50 Cent, Adam Lambert and Alex Rodriguez).
The power-chord trio Green Day were winners of best rock album for 21st Century Breakdown and played the anthemic 21 Guns with the cast of Broadway's upcoming American Idiot .
Country-rockers Zac Brown Band won for best new artist, while Kings of Leon surprised some when their reverb-drenched stadium smash Use Somebody took record of the year honours.
"I'm not going to lie, we're all a little drunk, but we're happy drunk," singer Caleb Followill said in his acceptance speech.
Toronto rapper Drake didn't win either award for which he was nominated, but still took the stage later to perform his hit Forever with Lil Wayne and Eminem, along with a percussion assist from Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.
Alberta powwow dance group Northern Cree, Toronto R&B singer Melanie Fiona, hard-rockers Nickelback and producer David Foster also went home empty-handed in their categories.
Montreal duo Beast's video for Mr. Hurricane lost out to the Black Eyed Peas' ubiquitous Boom Boom Pow clip, but the pair swaggered through a performance of the stuttering rocker at the afternoon ceremony while their trippy clip played overhead.
Claus Ogerman won for best instrumental arrangement, accompanying vocalists for Diana Krall's Quiet Nights . Krall, from Nanaimo, B.C., was also connected to Yo-Yo Ma's & Friends' Songs of Joy and Peace , which won best classical crossover album and also featured Natalie MacMaster of Inverness County, N.S.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press
Join Globe music critic Robert Everett-Green and Globe TV critic Andrew Ryan as they liveblog the awards ceremony below.