LOS ANGELES — Critically lauded R&B crooner Frank Ocean won his first-ever Grammy trophy Sunday night, while a spry Justin Timberlake returned to the stage after years away for a stylized take on two new songs.
The 25-year-old Ocean entered the Grammy Awards with six nominations for his ambitious, contemplative debut commercial release “Channel Orange,” and he picked up his first award for best urban contemporary album early in the show.
“I hear … the way you disarm audiences is by picturing them naked, but I don’t want to do that,” the L.A.-based singer said softly.
“I want to say thank you to my mother for being the best,” he added, as his teary-eyed mom was captured clapping along.
In other news, the Grammys seemed to lose Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen’s number, as her earworm smash Call Me Maybe was overlooked for both song of the year and pop solo performance.
Fun.’s irrepressible anthem We Are Young instead took top song trophy, and soon-to-be 31-year-old frontman Nate Ruess had a clever crack ready.
“Oh God. I don’t know what I was thinking writing the chorus for this song — if this is in HD, everyone can see our faces and we are not very young,” said Ruess, whose band performed Carry On amid an impressive fake downpour.
“We’ve been doing this for 12 years and I’ve just gotta say that we could not do this without the help of all the fans we’ve had keeping us afloat….
“I guess we’ve felt like your best-kept secret. So thank you guys so much.”
Taylor Swift kicked off the show with an Alice in Wonderland-inspired rendition of her hit We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.
She sported an outfit reminiscent of the Mad Hatter’s — a white-suit jacket, matching top hat and hot pants — while a cast of eccentrics surrounded her.
Meanwhile, some poor gentleman — and the presumed target of Swift’s scorn — was fastened to a gigantic onstage bullseye.
Timberlake’s performance similarly hit the mark.
As he took the stage, the image went suddenly monochromatic while the tuxedoed singer moved slickly while surrounded by dancers steeped in old-school L.A. glamour. After an assist from Jay-Z, Timberlake smoothly segued into another new tune Pusher Love Girl before being serenaded with an enthusiastic reaction.
Meanwhile, Adele — who swept all six categories in which she was nominated last year — won pop solo vocal performance for her Set Fire to the Rain.
In other performances, two generations of British singer/songwriters — Elton John and 21-year-old Ed Sheeran — meshed smoothly on the latter’s tender hit The A Team, while innovative R&B crooner Miguel wowed with a truncated take on his Adorn, which won a Grammy earlier in the day.
During that lengthy pre-telecast, 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.
Meanwhile, Toronto rapper Drake finally claimed his first Grammy out of 12 nominations.
The 26-year-old born Aubrey Graham took his inaugural hardware in the best rap album category, with his moody sophomore hit Take Care emerging triumphant.
Jennifer Lopez was just presenting an award, but still managed to steal headlines with a slinky slate-grey dress that revealed her entire right leg. She then referenced the widely circulated note from the Grammys instructing talent to keep their outfits tasteful.
“So, as you can see, I got the memo,” Lopez joked to resounding applause.