Sam Smith Wins 4 Grammy Awards, Including Song Of The Year

Feb 8, 2015
Originally published on February 9, 2015 2:48 pm

Sam Smith, the British singer whose debut album, In the Lonely Hour, was one of only two albums released in 2014 to go platinum, won four Grammys, including Record and Song of the Year, as well as Best New Artist.

In a moment that seemed to catch most of the audience by surprise, Beck's Morning Phase won Album of the Year, keeping Smith from sweeping the top categories. Beck's album of subdued, string-laden folk songs was critically favored, but it felt like an underdog against nominations of pop stars Smith, Pharrell Williams, Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran.

Even so, it was Smith's night. "Stay With Me," the song that won Record and Song of the year, has been on the Billboard Hot 100 for 43 weeks, and In the Lonely Hour sold 1.2 million copies last year, more than any other album released in 2014 except Taylor Swift's 1989, which was released after the Grammy eligibility period for the year ended. Midway through the ceremony, Smith performed a subdued but confident version of the song with Mary J. Blige, backed by strings and a choir.

The tempo of the night rarely pushed past a steady pulse, either in the performances or the winners. All five Album of the Year nominees performed over the course of a long telecast in which only nine awards were handed out, compared with 23 performances, as host LL Cool J announced at the start of the night. Many artists took the stage with unexpected partners. Sheeran performed a two-part set; he performed his own "Thinking Out Loud" with a band that included Herbie Hancock, Questlove and John Mayer before joining Jeff Lynn's Electric Light Orchestra for "Mr. Blue Sky." Beck played the sleepy, wistful "Heart Is a Drum" with Coldplay's Chris Martin.

Many collaborations paired musicians currently in residence on the pop charts with hall-of-famers: Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett sang "Cheek to Cheek," the title song from their album of duets. Irish singer-songwriter Hozier performed his Song of the Year-nominated hit, "Take Me to Church," with a steely-eyed Annie Lennox. Kanye West, Rihanna and Paul McCartney played the acoustic "FourFiveSeconds," a song that was released on the Internet just two weeks ago. West also performed "Only One," a song he recorded with McCartney.

Morning Phase was also awarded Best Rock Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. When Beck's name was announced as the Album of the Year winner, West briefly rushed on stage and approached the microphone, before backing away, in an apparent joke about his own notorious theft of the microphone from Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, when he insisted that Beyoncé deserved the awards Swift had won.

Beyoncé picked up three awards of her own. "Drunk In Love" won Best R&B Song and Performance, and Beyoncé won Best Surround Sound Album. Pharrell Williams also won three Grammys, including Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Music Video for "Happy" and Best Urban Contemporary Album for Girl.

Other multiple-award winners included Rosanne Cash, who won three awards in the Americana category, and Chick Corea, who won two jazz awards. The rap category was split between Eminem, who won Best Rap Album for The Marshall Mathers LP2 and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "The Monster," which features Rihanna, and Kendrick Lamar, who won Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance for "i." Jack White won Best Rock Performance for the title song to his album Lazaretto as well as an award for the Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package for The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27).

The full list of awards can be found here.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's get caught up with the Grammys. The music industry rolled out its red carpet for the 57th annual awards ceremony in LA last night. And I'm pretty jealous because my colleague Nathan Rott got to go backstage.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: The big winner of the night was Sam Smith.

(SOUNDBITE OF 57TH GRAMMY AWARDS)

SAM SMITH: (Singing) Oh, won't you stay with me 'cause you're all I need.

ROTT: The 22-year-old British songwriter should have just stayed on stage at LA's Staples Center. He owned the night, winning two of the top honors - record of the year and song of the year. He also won best new artist and best pop vocal album for "In The Lonely Hour." Even he was surprised.

(SOUNDBITE OF 57TH GRAMMY AWARDS)

SMITH: Before I made this record, I was doing everything to try and get my music heard. I tried to lose weight and make - I was making awful music. And it was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen, so thank you guys for accepting me to be just me. Thank you.

ROTT: Backstage after the show, Smith was having a hard time carrying all of his hardware.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SMITH: I feel like Kate Winslet at the Oscars right now. I've never done one of these. This is amazing.

ROTT: The singer wasn't the only artist to win multiple awards. Beck won three, including arguably the night's biggest surprise when he won album of the year, beating out favorites Smith and Beyonce. The announcement left even him looking shocked, especially when Kanye West started to storm the stage...

(SOUNDBITE OF 57TH GRAMMY AWARDS)

ROTT: ...As he did in 2009's MTV Awards, when Beyonce was beaten out by Taylor Swift. Beck seemed to want him to stay.

(SOUNDBITE OF 57TH GRAMMY AWARDS)

BECK: I need some help. Come back (laughter). Oh, my God.

ROTT: The stunt was one of the lighter moments in the three-and-a-half-hour telecast, which featured 23 different performances by more than 35 artists, starting with the old-timers AC/DC...

(SOUNDBITE OF 57TH GRAMMY AWARDS)

ACDC: (Singing) Highway to [expletive]...

ROTT: And ending with quieter performances of "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" by Beyonce and the Oscar-nominated song "Glory" from the film "Selma," in which John Legend and rapper Common inserted a line about police violence against African-Americans.

(SOUNDBITE OF 57TH GRAMMY AWARDS)

COMMON: (Singing) That's why Rosa sat on the bus. That's why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up, when they go down, we woman and man up. They say...

ROTT: It wasn't the evening's first reference. During Pharrell's performance of his song "Happy," dancers made the hands up, don't shoot gesture, and Prince made mention of it, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF 57TH GRAMMY AWARDS)

PRINCE: Like books and black lives, albums still matter.

ROTT: President Obama made an appearance at the Grammys, too, on video tape, to talk about domestic violence.

(SOUNDBITE OF 57TH GRAMMY AWARDS)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Tonight we celebrate artists whose music and message help shape our culture, and together we can change our culture for the better by ending violence against women and girls.

ROTT: A survivor of domestic violence, Brooke Axtell, went on stage after.

(SOUNDBITE OF 57TH GRAMMY AWARDS)

BROOKE AXTELL: Authentic love does not silence, shame or abuse.

ROTT: Her speech got resounding applause and gave a depth to the Grammys that was more than just the music. Nathan Rott, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF 57TH GRAMMY AWARDS)

KATY PERRY: (Singing) By the grace of God, there was no other way. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.