LOS ANGELES - A fun. night: Indie-pop winners fun. (song of the year, We Are Young; best new artist) poked fun at themselves backstage, pointing out that just because their hit single implied they were youthful, the lines on their face said otherwise.
"I think we look completely age appropriate," said Jack Antonoff. "Actually, here's our secret. The money that other bands spend on drugs, we spend on having a yoga professional backstage, going to the gym ...on a lot of superfoods."
Nate Reuss, the lead singer, said it's nice to win for working hard and staying the course.
Although they won best new artist, they've been working away at this for 12 years. "Our goal was never to figure out what to do to be a success, we just wanted to build a fan base that appreciated what we did."
"I don't want a Grammy Award for being something that I'm not," Reuss said.
Added Reuss, "There's also a lot of false advertising going on. When you write a song called We Are Young, people assume you must be young. 'Hey, but they've got bags under their eyes ...but they must be young, right?'"
The New York-based band said winning tonight's two Grammys was especially rewarding after a long, unrecognized slog in the music business. Reuss noted, "It means a lot to be recognized by our peers. We're musicians and songwriters first."
He added that the band strove to build a fan base more than chart a single. "We didn't think about what type of band we wanted to be (in order to succeed). We've always been lucky to have fans who came to see us for who we were. Over the years we learned that we just wanted to be ourselves. I don't want a Grammy Award for something we didn't put our heart into. We always thought we were just lucky to draw some people at a club. So to get this now based on being ourselves feels great."
Ending on a high note: Mumford & Sons, the British band that took best album honors for Babel, sat through a long pre-telecast and most of the 3 1/2-hour show before an envelope finally went their way.
"We were in the pre-tel stuff, and we had six nominations," Marcus Mumford said after the show. "We were like, cool, we got six nominations. Then one after the other, it was the Black Keys, the Black Keys. We resigned ourselves that it would be the Black Keys' year. We really didn't care about winning."
But now that they have?
"It's (expletive) awesome!" he said.
Zac Brown's emotional moment: Brown teared up a bit on stage when accepting the Grammy for best country album. He said he could have predicted as much. "Our whole band runs on love and it's hard not to be thankful to everyone. But I left out my four daughters at home ... I was literally in shock," he said. "It doesn't take much to get me in tears."
Brown and his band got to perform with Mavis Staples, Elton John and other greats during the show's tribute to Levon Helm, and with Bruce Springsteen at Friday's MusicCares show. The experience has left Brown shaken - in a good way.
"This whole weekend is like out of a dream, it's like hanging out with my entire CD collection. Then winning a Grammy.... I don't know what else is going to happen tonight but it will feel amazing no matter what," he said.
Brown attributed the current surge in the popularity of acoustic-based music to "everything running in cycles, and now it's back to the roots, people who play their own instruments, like Mumford & Sons winning (album of the year). It's great to see that real music is getting the spotlight."
Brown closed by saying his band is now out to prove that the curse of winning the best new artist Grammy (which they did in 2010) "is not true, we're just getting started."
A win fit for a Prince: After winning record of the year for Somebody That I Used to Know, Gotye and Kimbra seemed less thrilled by the award than by the presenter, Prince. "I couldn't have dreamed of that," Kimbra said.
"We're both pretty huge fans of his," Gotye said, "I think under his breath, he said, 'I love this song.' I didn't expect to win any of the categories we were nominated in. It's a little bit flabbergasting."
Even after the past year of worldwide exposure, Gotye (pronounced goat-yay) continues to confound many with his stage name, inspired by the French Gauthier. He recalls a memorable mangling by a tourist in Milwaukee, who hollered at him, "You, that guy from Guy-yo-tee!"
Gotye says he's relishing his Grammy high. "I'm supremely jet-lagged, (which is) also why I'm feeling supremely delirious," he said. "I don't mind if I don't have another moment like this with a song."
Carrie Underwood's secret: Speaking of the dress-as-prop she wore during her Grammy performance, which served as a small screen for a series of animated projections, Underwood said the seed of the idea was from an LED dress she wore on her tour.
"This is projection but ... well, I probably should tell my secrets," she said with a smile. "But there are so many big performances at the Grammys and sometimes I like to just stand still and perform. So (the dress) was the best way to do it, to create a cool environment."
Of the night's performances, she was particularly taken by The Weight, the ensemble tribute to the late The Band drummer Levon Helm. "I love seeing those collaborations that would never happen anywhere else, it's always cool to see," she said.
Underwood also was proud to see Nashville-based artists and country music in particular so well represented at the 55th Grammys.
"I won't say (country) has been overlooked but we have always done such great stuff, and people have supported us, and sometimes I feel like there should have been a couple more country people represented. This year they had more represented, and I feel proud to be a part of that."
Living the dream: The-Dream (stage name for Terius Youngdell Nash) won the Grammy for No Church In The Wild, best rap/sung collaboration with Kanye and Frank Ocean.
On Frank Ocean, he said, "We all knew how great he was, and he's here now, I really don't have to say anything else."
The-Dream has a new album coming out soon; he describes it as "pretty sexual."
"It's designed to make one good thing, to make a nice child that grows up to be good to the human race. It's an honest record."
He says he wasn't a fan of the CBS dress code that requested women not show skin. "From a male perspective? I mean, a guy who makes love-making CDs, I'd say it's not a good dress code," he said to laughs from the press corps. "Guys stop aging at fifth grade, we only want to see one thing, so that (rule) just shut some viewers out. But people make up rules so you can break them. I wore the hat," pointing to his cap that bore the logo of the 1991 movie Boyz In the Hood.
The Carters call it a night: Beyonce and Jay-Z head out...for good? Maybe they had to take the babysitter home.
Dress code violation!: Rihanna's third dress change for the evening, for the Bob Marley tribute, bared her midriff and barely covered her breasts. Every time she lifted her arms, peek-a-boo! A dress code violation?
Commercial break intel: Did you spot Girls creator and actress Lena Dunham in a yellow dress in the audience? She's dating fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff. And for the record, way more stars behave and stay seated at the Grammys than at any other awards show.
Galaxies collide: Adele and Beyoncé hug and chat during the commercial break.
Soul singers: Kelly Rowland, in a snug and revealing black gown by Georges Chakra, laughed when asked about the CBS memo warning Grammy artists to dress appropriately. "I almost broke the code," she said. "If I turn to the side, I might."
She dutifully read it. "I respect it," she said. "See? I wore clothes."
As excited as Rowland is about her own music, she's still bubbling about the Destiny's Child reunion at Beyoncé's Super Bowl performance last week in New Orleans. "I cannot begin to tell you how much fun that was," she said. "It was such a beautiful moment. I miss those moments with my sisters. It was hard to keep that secret!"
The show highlight for her so far? Justin Timberlake. "That boy's just got too much soul!" The entire arena stood for the duration of Timberlake's set.
Skrillex's electric win: Electronica sensation Skrillex won best dance/electronica album for Bangarang and dance recording for its title track, adding to the three Grammys he won last year. "I thought I would get used to it but I tripped over every word up there in my acceptance speech," he said. "I felt like I jumped in a pool of ice water."
His plans? To keep it real. "I don't really do much press and don't like to talk about my music too much before it's out. With Bangarang, I didn't do any marketing campaigns. I always kept it organic. I want to expand upon what organic really means. The electronic music scene came up from the underground."
He plans to maintain that mindset despite mainstream success. "I've kept my team very close and very tight," he says, noting that he and Bangarang vocalist Sirah "have made records in 150-square-foot lofts with cockroaches. The cool thing is, we've all kept our spirit. I'm going to make the music I love."
Unstoppable Adele: Adele, last year's Grammy magnet with a six-trophy sweep, won her ninth, in pop solo performance, for a live version of Set Fire to the Rain. Backstage, she talked about the challenge of balancing her demanding career with new motherhood.
"I've been up since 6 a.m.!" she said. "I haven't been as stressed out. You have to prioritize."
As for any progress on a follow-up to her blockbuster 21 album, "I'm not very far along at all," she said. "I'm having lots of meetings. I've been out of the loop. I've been singing lots of nursery rhymes."
Her next big gig is singing the nominated Skyfall theme at the Feb. 24 Oscars.
Zac Brown's zing: The leader of the Zac Brown Band talked about the return to Americana and acoustic music, saying in jokey sarcasm, "It's kind of amazing - people playing their own instruments, writing and singing their own songs. It's amazing!"
All the boldfaced girls: Rihanna, Beyoncé, Katy Perry all sneaked into the gated area behind the red carpet so they didn't have to get near reporters on the carpet. Instead, they went to Seacrest, who failed to ask them about the things people most wanted to know.
Bonnie Raitt on her Americana album win for Slipstream: "I'm so happy. That's where my heart is. Americana covers so much of what I love and crosses generations." She said, "Acoustic music hasn't gone away."
Asked why Americana music as a genre seems to be popular, the legendary blueswoman shrugged. "You know, great music just rises to the top, great melodies and people that mean it when they sing them," she said, then adding with a smile, "It's refreshing when it comes around again, but where I'm from it's always in."
This is Raitt's 10th Grammy; she won in 1996 and had a four-Grammy run in 1990, which was credited for sending her career back into the fast lane. Comparing that big win with this one is natural, she said.
"It felt the same, it was like hyperspace (then and now)," she said. "The fact that the public is buying these records is amazing. For me to eke through this year, it felt fantastic."
Raitt, 63, fell in love with folk and blues many decades ago, when as a 13-year-old she heard Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' and had an epiphany.
"I was a Quaker, my family was political, and although I was already a folkie then, there was something about his records," she said. "It set me on a path of wanting to play folk music."
Kimbra is patriotic: She's wearing a dress by Australian designer Jaime Lee Major.
Rock on: The four members of Halestorm were stunned to win the hard rock/metal trophy over vets Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Lamb of God and Marilyn Manson.
"Who screwed up and gave us a Grammy?" singer Lzzy Hale said.
First time: Cajun singer Wayne Toups, nominated for the first time, won the regional roots music Grammy with Steve Riley and Wilson Savoy for The Band Courtbouillon album.
"Next year, we shoot for another one," he said. "I accidentally stumbled on to this one."
Toups was on a cruise with his cellphone turned off when nominations were announced in December. Once on land, his phone "just blew up."
"I booked my flight and bought a suit," he says.
Miranda keeps to the code: Country singer Miranda Lambert was wearing a floor-length blue Roberto Cavalli dress with a long train."I know it's crazy to wear a dress with a train at the Grammys, people keep stepping on it," she says. Asked if she had gotten the memo about the Grammy dress code she raised an eyebrow and said, "I'm country, I wasn't going to exactly be having my cheeks hanging out."
Chick Corea dishes out jazz wisdom: Jazz can't be easily defined and shouldn't be, said Chick Corea, who won Grammys for instrumental composition and improvised jazz solo.
"You can't pin jazz down," he said. "Jazz musicians are always trying new forms. It's basically black music, African music mixed with Americana. I think jazz is what influences pop music to a large degree, the beats and the rhythms."
Quincy Jones and his ladies: The producer glides by with his girl group Blush. They are singing their way down the red carpet by request. "We discovered each other. They've got it!" He tapped the reporter's USA TODAY mic and said, "I do the puzzles on this (in the newspaper) every day, it's good for your mind, man."
Esperanza Spalding on two Grammy wins: She said she is wearing a "sustainable fashion"-style gown. "I just won! Tonight is especially exciting because my teacher won a Grammy, we co-won!" (They shared the award for best instrumental arrangement accompanying vocalists.) Her teacher, Thara Memory, in a wheelchair, was with her on the red carpet. "To be recognized on the world stage for this, it feels like something right was going on." She said she met her teacher when she was 8.
Jack White vs. The Beatles: He was asked about being honored for his recent album, Blunderbuss. "All things are political in life. You take it for how it goes" when it comes to being recognized. What does he think about vinyl now that his album has outsold The Beatles' Abbey Road in 2012? "I definitely think it's coming back, it's the only segment in music that's increasing in sales."
On the White Stripes getting back together: "No. No more. I wish, but no more."
Deadmau5 on his rising fame: "It's going into popularity, it's all mainstream now but I'm not a spokesperson for it. It just happens to be the stuff I like to do." He's with girlfriend Kat Von D, who said, "I'm pretty easygoing, I just take it in for what it is." Preparing for the show: "I was getting ready and he was working on a masterpiece of a song. I'm a pretty proud girlfriend."
Carly Rae Jepsen on being nervous: "I'm surprisingly relaxed, it's really surreal to me." She was wearing a fully beaded Roberto Cavalli gown. "I chose it because I felt like a mermaid, like Ariel when she stepped out of the water for the first time." Did the dress code influence her? "No, not really, I was always going to play it pretty safe."
Ziggy Marley on his father, who's being honored tonight: "It's not every day that reggae music is put in such a mainstream event, especially in America. After all these years he keeps helping us out." On Marley, the documentary on his father: "I was personally involved, I executive-produced it." He commented on its "true sincerity."
Janis Ian speaks up: Her work, Society's Child: My Autobiography, took the spoken word Grammy over entries by Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Rachel Maddow and Ellen DeGeneres.
"I can't believe I won over them," said Ian, 61, who wrote her signature hit at 13. Music means more to her now because she's more aware of its power as a great leveler that cuts across class, gender, race, she said.
What did she learn over the years? "Once you look at money as the goal or fame as the goal, that's when it all goes south," she said.
Chris Brown is OK: Ryan Seacrest just interviewed the singer on the red carpet; he was wearing a white suit, no tie, white shoes. He showed no sign of his car crash Saturday, even though his Porsche was totaled, and he did NOT have Rihanna with him. Nor did Seacrest even ask about the girlfriend he's back with despite his assault on her in 2009. He also suggested the car crash might have had something to do with the paparazzi.
Sticking to dress code: "I heard about the (CBS) dress code but only at the last minute, so I decided to not wear my speedo," Redfoo, real name Stefan Kendal Gordy, of LMFAO says. The singer sports a black crushed velvet suit with a GoPro camera strapped to his chest. For him, being at the Grammys -- "It's a dream come true. You watch it growing up and you never think that's gonna be you up there."
Security: With nerves running high over fugitive ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, security has been beefed up at the Staples Center, site of tonight's Grammy Awards. Additional barriers have been erected and a larger-than-usual contingent of police officers is in place.
Ashanti sweeps red carpet: The singer arrives wearing Tony Ward. "It's kind of vintage classy and sexy," she says. On the CBS memo about the Grammys dress code, she says, "I literally didn't get the memo, but I feel like I'm keeping it nice and classy." She was just cast in a role on Lifetime's Army Wives. "It's a great part, but I will definitely use it as a platform for my music."
An outfit from beyond: Al Walser, nominee for best dance dance recording, came to the red carpet dressed like an astronaut on the moon. "Well, for me, the first biracial nominee from Liechtenstein, it feels like a moon landing," he says. Is it comfortable? "No, there's a tremendous amount of weight on my shoulders. But that's OK."
Brian Wilson has a lot to 'Smile' about: The Beach Boys icon, recovering from back surgery, had difficulty negotiating the stairs to the backstage podium, but offered a grin when it came to talking about The Smile Sessions, which won the Grammy for historical album, a win he shares with three other producers.
"It's an honor," he says.
Next week, he heads into a studio to work on solo material. Will he resume working with the Beach Boys, who staged a big reunion tour in 2012?
"I doubt it, I don't think so," he said.
Billy Vera, better late than never: At 68, veteran singer/songwriter Billy Vera won his first Grammy, in album notes, for Ray Charles' Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles. How did he feel about finally getting a trophy for writing liner notes rather than writing songs?
"I'll take it any way I can get it," he said.
Ray Charles "has always been my hero," Vera said. "When we started The Beaters, I wanted the band to be similar in style to his '50s band when he was on Atlantic."
Joan Osbourne on being nominated in blues category: "When I first started singing these were the types of people I was emulating, people like Etta James, Otis Redding."
On blues trending today: "You look at bands like Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys, they're steeped in the blues."