Adele cleans up at the Grammys amid heartfelt tributes to Whitney Houston

We review last Sunday night's Grammy Awards.

The British singer Adele holds up her Grammy Awards in the press room on Sunday night. She won six Grammys for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Short Form Music Video.
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It was a clean sweep for Adele at Sunday night's Grammy Awards. The British soul singer scooped all the awards she was nominated for, including the Album of Year for 21 and Record of the Year for Rolling in the Deep.

The 23-year-old's joyous night was held among an event full of tributes to the late Whitney Houston, who was found dead in the Beverly Hilton hotel on Saturday afternoon before a pre-Grammy gala.

With the stars still reeling from the tragedy, the host LL Cool J did a sterling job easing the crowd into the event.

The rapper and actor began the event with a solemn prayer for the fallen star that was direct and not at all mawkish. "How do we speak to this time, to this day? There's no way around this: we've had a death in our family," he said. "So at least for me - for me - it only feels right to begin with a prayer for a woman who we loved, for our fallen sister Whitney Houston."

Such an introduction would have been difficult if a comedian was in the hosting seat.

But one understands why LL Cool J was given the role. For one thing, he is not Ricky Gervais. Actors can do a better job disguising contempt than musicians. The thought of a Gervais-type compère taking potshots at the likes of musical treasures Stevie Wonder or Paul McCartney would have surely sent a shiver down the spine of event organisers. LL Cool J's easy charm and optimism was the kind of steady stewardship the event needed in light of the recent tragedy.

Despite the mournful beginning, the event was full of dazzling performances by a variety of pop stars and legends, including the return of the Beach Boys with Brian Wilson.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band kicked off the proceedings with the rocking new single, We Take Care of Our Own.

Bruno Mars maintained his retro-shtick with a soul-fuelled performance channelling James Brown, while Rihanna was assisted by Coldplay in We Found Love before the UK group took over to perform their latest chart topper, Paradise.

The comeback of the reformed Beach Boys was among the most eagerly awaited of the night and the group demonstrated they haven't totally lost their sunny demeanour; their classic Good Vibrations had the audience on their feet in no time. Still, the return of Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, although authentic, lacked the necessary ingredient to persuade punters that a Beach Boys 50th anniversary tour is a good idea.

The same can be said of the Houston tribute performed by Jennifer Hudson. While time constraints prohibited the segment from being a full-blown tribute, Hudson's choice to lovingly cover I Will Always Love You seemed too safe. Perhaps a medley of Houston's songs would have been a better choice.

It was a great evening for the Foo Fighters, who walked away with five Grammys, including Best Rock Album for Wasting Light and Best Hard Rock Performance for White Limo.

But the night belonged to Adele, who despite her winnings remained endearingly humbled by the whole affair. "Thank you so much. This is ridiculous," she blurted when receiving the gong for Record of the Year. "I want to say thank you to every radio programmer and broadcaster that has been playing Rolling in the Deep ... because I know it's not really a pop record."

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