Plant 'sells out' to lead British invasion at the Grammys

Led Zeppelin frontman strikes gold with his bluegrass collaboration
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The Independent Culture

They came, they sang, they conquered. British artists staged a noisy invasion of the American music industry's blue-riband event, with home-grown talent managing to win every major prize at this year's Grammy Awards.

The night belonged to Robert Plant, the 60-year-old former Led Zeppelin singer, who carried off five trophies in Los Angeles including record of the year and album of the year, for Raising Sand, his unlikely collaboration with the bluegrass singer Alison Krauss.

Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" was named song of the year, while Adele, the 20-year-old soul singer from Enfield, north London, was named best new artist and also won best female pop vocal performance for her song "Chasing Pavements."

"Wow!" said Plant, at the start of his increasingly-surreal series of visits to the winner's podium. "Forty years after landing in this town, it's all different. It's fantastic." Later, he added: "I'm bewildered. In the old days we would have called this selling out but I think it's a pretty good way to spend a Sunday." Plant's career has undergone an unlikely renaissance since the release of Raising Sand in March. The record has since gone platinum, selling more than a million copies, while he and Krauss have spent much of the past year on a world tour.

Earlier, Coldplay won two of the most prominent awards, including best rock album. During their first appearance on stage, the drummer Will Champion apologised to Sir Paul McCartney, who performed at the event, for "so blatantly ripping off the Sergeant Pepper outfits".

The band's singer Chris Martin, evidently forgetting that they have previously won four awards over the years added, theatrically: "We've never had so many Grammys in our life. We feel so grateful to be here. I'm going to tear up."

Adele, who also claimed to be on the verge of tears, dedicated her awards to her mother. The British haul was completed by the Welsh singer Duffy, who won best pop vocal album, and Radiohead, whose In Rainbows was named best alternative album.

Although the transatlantic success was warmly applauded by the crowd at the Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles, it represented bad news to organisers of the three-and-a-half-hour show, who were desperate for American success to help reverse years of falling domestic TV audiences. At the height of the 51-year-old event's prominence, during the mid-1980s when Michael Jackson's Thriller swept the board, 50 million people tuned in. Last year's TV audience was watched by a mere 17.5 million, just 500,000 more than the 2006 score, which was the lowest in history.

Despite the ailing state of the record industry, which has seen a 45 per cent drop in album sales since 2000, the show's producers pulled out all the stops, promising viewers an unprecedented 24 live performances from stars who represented every genre and era of popular music.

However, the Recording Academy's 12,000 voting members failed to play ball with the project, restricting US artists to victory in relatively minor awards, mostly in the country music and rap categories.

The event was also overshadowed by the sudden late withdrawal of soul singer Chris Brown and his girlfriend, the pop singer Rihanna, who were both nominated for awards and scheduled to perform, amid an investigation into what police described as an alleged "felony domestic violence battery."

Also rans: US winners

*Male pop vocal performance: Say – John Mayer

*R&B Album: Jennifer Hudson – Jennifer Hudson

*Rock performance by a duo or group with vocals: Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon

*Metal performance: My Apocalypse – Metallica

*Rock song: Girls in Their Summer Clothes – Bruce Springsteen

*Contemporary R&B album: Growing Pains – Mary J Blige

*Female R&B vocal solo: Superwoman – Alicia Keys

*Male R&B vocal solo: Miss Independent – Ne-Yo