Taylor Swift fell a little bit closer to earth at Sunday's Grammy Awards.
While she was the dominant star throughout the 2009 awards season, taking top honors at everything from the Country Music Association ceremonies to the American Music Awards, she had to share the spotlight in Los Angeles.
She did snare the most prestigious victory — Album of the Year — at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards, but she wasn't the only big winner among Music City performers. Nashville rock band Kings of Leon captured major awards as well during the three-and-a-half-hour show that aired live on CBS from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Swift's Fearless was top album, considered the highest Grammy award and the final one presented during the evening. She'd previously won Grammys for Best Country Song, Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Album, plus she performed with Fleetwood Mac diva Stevie Nicks. But taking Album of the Year provided a fitting conclusion to her extraordinary year.
Swift twice thanked her record label, once for letting her write all the songs on Fearless, and later for giving her creative control to record whatever she wanted. She also cited her mother as her biggest fan and major supporter, and called winning the Album of the Year "having my impossible dream come true."
Still, Kings of Leon may have been the biggest surprise of the night, expecially winning Record of the Year for "Use Somebody," as well as Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by A Duo or Group with Vocals.
"I'm not going to lie, we're a little drunk," Caleb Followill said upon receiving the Record of the Year award. "But we're happy drunks."
It reportedly was the first time a Nashville rock act won for Record of the Year.
The Zac Brown Band continued the Nashville blitz, capturing the Best New Artist award and joining a lengthy and impressive list of performers. Though hailing from Atlanta, the midstate favorite has been a frequent visitor to Nashville ever since his successful Bonnaroo appearance.
And although it didn't make the telecast, another interesting award went to comedian/actor Steve Martin, whose disc The Crow/New Songs For Five-String Banjo took the Best Bluegrass Album.
The night's biggest winner was Beyonce, who's already announced she's taking much of 2010 off from performing. By winning six Grammys, she became the first performer to win five or more on two separate occasions (she previously won five in 2004).
The Black Eyed Peas and Jay-Z each earned three Grammys on Sunday, while Maxwell won his first two Grammy awards.
The heavy concentration on performance made the show seem more like a concert with a few awards interspersed for good measure. Several winners were announced off air before the show began, and such Grammy program staples as spotlighting Trustee and Lifetime Award Recipients, as well as the customary tributes to deceased performers, were barely shoehorned into the array of live numbers.
The Grammys also greatly reduced the scope and depth of the musical performances. Where the show was once designed as an all-encompassing celebration to reflect the industry's diversity, it's now aimed at maximizing ratings by highlighting acts with high public profiles and extensive radio airplay.
While there were tributes to Michael Jackson and Les Paul, performances were mainly designed to feature either nominees or winners. Jazz, folk, blues, classical, gospel and international acts were just a few among the many not featured, although they did take the time to award a comedy Grammy to Stephen Colbert.
Still, there were some memorable moments. Jackson's two children, Prince and Paris, accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of their father.
Opera/classical star Andrea Bocelli and R&B vocalist Mary J. Blige did a solid duet on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" that's being sold on iTunes to raise funds for Haitian relief.
The Zac Brown Band and Dave Matthews Band did excellent numbers, while Bon Jovi appeared on the Grammys for the first time and were later joined by Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland.
It was also obvious during the Drake/Eminem/Lil' Wayne number that CBS has no plans to ever get caught off-guard again when it comes to questionable content. A record must have been set for most words bleeped out during a single set, something that probably baffled the people who've never heard them live and amused the ones who regularly buy their recordings.
But other than Beyonce's victories, the 2010 Grammys stand as an indication of the commercial impact non-country Nashville music made last year.
For all the Grammy winners, click here.