It took a little while, but we knew the 2011 Grammys had it in them.
We at first feared that the biggest "oh wow!" moment was going to be a certain entrance by a certain pop star in a certain ovular capsule, but the broadcast came through, giving us multiple opportunities to pick our jaws up off the floor.
So without further ado, here are the biggest shockeroos from Grammy night:
1. There Goes the Neighborhood: The Arcade Fire put out a great album, so it's not like their Album of the Year win for The Suburbs was shocking based on its merits. It's the fact that the Recording Academy had the balls to give it to them! Sure, Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster was awesome, but only eight songs long. And Katy Perry...come now. But Lady Antebellum was building momentum throughout the show, and Eminem was still considered the favorite, even though voters have seemingly gone out of their way in past years to not give the top prize to rap albums (Herbie Hancock over Kanye West, U2 over Kanye West, Ray Charles over Kanye West, etc.). The last hip-hop album to stand alone at the end of the night was Outkast's Speaker Boxxx/The Love Below in 2004.
2. Maybe a Little Afraid?: Eminem has 13 Grammys now, so it's not like the Academy just likes to tease him with nominations or anything, but...maybe they do a little. He had 10 chances this year and ended up hitting the Mendoza Line, leaving only with wins for Best Rap Solo Performance for "Not Afraid" and Best Rap Album for Recovery, his fifth win in the latter category. Still no Album of the Year, however, in three tries. No wonder he looks so pissed off all the time.
3. Gone Country: There's still a whole slew of specifically country categories and Lady Antebellum won several of 'em, but they became full-blown crossover stars tonight by winning Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Need You Now," beating out a diverse array of peeps like Eminem and Rihanna, Cee Lo Green, B.o.B, Jay-Z, fellow country darling Miranda Lambert and mainstream infiltrator Ray LaMontagne (tip of the hat to his win for Best Contempory Folk Album, while we're at it). Which, of course, made it all the more surprising when they didn't scoot off with Album of the Year, too.
4. All That Jazz: There is an antidote to Bieber Fever, and her name is Esperanza Spalding, who topped young Justin Bieber (not to mention Drake, Mumford &Sons and Florence + the Machine) in the Best New Artist category. The 26-year-old jazz singer and musician from Portland, Ore., is, unlike some of the competition out there these days, is a truly versatile artist who has actually appeared on a number of albums already, as both a member of an ensemble and as bandleader. Then again, it would have been a jaw-dropper even more if Bieber had won. He's obviously got star power up the wazoo, no question, but the music itself isn't exactly...earth-shattering.
5. The Hatching of Lady Gaga: By the time Lady Gaga took the stage to be reborn, so to speak, even CNN was reporting that she had arrived at the Grammys in an egg. But...she arrived in a freakin' egg! Part Mork &Mindy, part-Alien and all genius showmanship, Gaga topped the most out-there outfit prognosticators with her incubation-themed get-up. The subsequent onstage hatching in a nude bodysuit was actually rather undramatic (we're just relieved she didn't come out looking like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly), and her ensuing performance of the already somewhat controversial "Born This Way" did nothing to dispel the Madonna comparisons. In fact, it was a full-on homage, with Gaga sporting a "Blonde Ambition"-era ponytail. She led a fierce group dance, grabbed her crotch and everything. You go, Gaga!