LOS ANGELES -- Toronto rapper Drake finally won his first Grammy Award on Sunday afternoon, while the rest of the Canadian field was shut out at an untelevised ceremony where the bulk of the prizes were handed out ahead of the evening gala.
Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and Skrillex won three Grammys each while Jay-Z, Kanye West, Esperanza Spalding, Gotye and Chick Corea all won two awards apiece at a three-hour ceremony at the Nokia Theatre in which 70 Grammys were distributed before the splashy TV broadcast.
Drake has been nominated a total of 12 times, and in 10 of those instances, he wound up losing to one of Jay-Z, West or Eminem (in fact, the Jay-Z/West combo beat him out in two of his nominated categories on Sunday too).
But the 26-year-old born Aubrey Graham didn't have any of those hip hop titans to contend with in the best rap album category, and his moody sophomore hit "Take Care" emerged triumphant.
Many winners were absent -- with preparations for the evening telecast ongoing -- but L.A. dubstep producer Skrillex managed to enthusiastically claim two of his awards -- one of which came at the expense of Canadian producer Deadmau5.
"Woo! Well, thank you guys," said the DJ born Sonny Moore, trademark black shades fixed to his face, as he accepted best dance recording for the Sirah collaboration "Bangarang."
"It's crazy to be here again.... Sorry, I'm shaking right now. I've known Sirah for about five years now, and we've probably been making records in my bedrooms and lofts in downtown L.A. ever since.
"Back when I was giving out records for free, we were doing it just because it was fun."
The Black Keys, meanwhile, had to like their chances at the bigger categories later on after the blues-rock duo from Akron, Ohio won for both best rock song and best rock album. Both wins were over Jack White, who's among their competition for album of the year.
"My brother, my mom and my dad, they're in the audience -- I wouldn't be here without them," said frontman Dan Auerbach, before adding: "Obviously."
Other early winners included reggae artist Jimmy Cliff, comedian Jimmy Fallon and Taylor Swift, one of the few major celebrities who decided not to skip the afternoon ceremony.
She won for best song written for visual media for the "Hunger Games" tune "Safe & Sound," along with collaborators T-Bone Burnett and John Paul White and Joy Williams of the Civil Wars.
"Yay!" said Swift, who's become infamous for her gobsmacked responses to winning awards. "You know what? This is unbelievable. I just want to thank my collaborators for working with me, Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett. You guys are amazing. We just won a Grammy for that!"
Quipped White in response: "I think it's appropriate that Taylor thank us because we've been carrying her for a while and it's getting tiring."
Folk singer/songwriter Janis Ian had one of the ceremony's best lines after beating out books by Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Rachel Maddow and Ellen DeGeneres to win best spoken-word album.
"To say this is a stunning upset would be an understatement," she said. "I keep thinking there's a punchline in here somewhere -- an ex-president, a first lady and three lesbians walk into a bar."
Bonnie Raitt was similarly irreverent when picking up the trophy for best Americana album for her "Slipstream."
"Wow, I was not expecting this -- I have enough," said the now 10-time Grammy winner.
"Thank you though! This is the same face I was wearing that other time."
The news wasn't as good for many of the Canadian contingent. Among the Canucks to miss out on awards were double nominated Windsor, Ont., native Tamia, Toronto's Melanie Fiona and Celtic-influenced soprano Loreena McKennitt of Stratford, Ont.
Pop breakout Carly Rae Jepsen of Mission, B.C., still held two nominations going into the evening ceremony.
In a year in which the race at the top is near-impossible to call, the pre-telecast did little to clear the picture.
Album of the year still looked like a toss-up, with perhaps only White -- after losing out twice to the Black Keys -- being relegated to long-shot status.
Meanwhile, the evening show is expected to feature an all-star cast of performers.
In addition from turns from top nominees including Frank Ocean, innovative R&B crooner Miguel (who already won for best R&B song, for his earth-shaking "Adorn"), the Black Keys (with Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band), fun. and White, the Grammys will also feature some typically unexpected collaborations. Rihanna, Sting and Bruno Mars will take the stage together, as will Elton John and Ed Sheeran and expect a major rap performance from Chuck D, LL Cool J, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.
The gala will also boast the musical comeback of pop star Justin Timberlake, who recently dropped the slick single "Suit & Tie" and announced the impending release of his first album in seven years. But rehearsals for that performance were kept away from the prying eyes of the media.
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