LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Country-pop singer Taylor Swift brought the circus to the Grammy stage on Sunday, kicking off the annual awards with a lively performance and British singer Adele picked up the show's first award.
The Black Keys, Skrillex and Gotye started the night strong, each picking up multiple awards prior to the televised ceremony.
The 55th Grammy Awards will hand out their gramophone-shaped trophies in more than 80 categories, but only a handful of winners are announced during the three-hour live telecast airing on CBS. More than 60 categories were announced prior to the televised show.
The top categories are dominated this year by male artists, with British folk band Mumford & Sons, indie-pop trio FUN. and R&B singer Frank Ocean going into the show with six nominations each, including Album of the Year.
Swift kicked off the live telecast dressed as a ringmaster with a circus-themed performance of her infectious chart-topping hit "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," backed by dancers in jester and acrobat costumes.
The 23-year-old singer picked up an early Grammy for her collaboration with T-Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars on the song "Safe and Sound" from "The Hunger Games" movie soundtrack.
Britain's Adele, 24, who swept the Grammys with six major awards last year, landed another this year for Best Pop Solo Performance for her live rendition of "Set Fire to The Rain."
The singer recognized the other female nominees in the audience, saying, "We work so hard, we make it look so easy."
Presenting the award, rapper Pitbull joked that Jennifer Lopez, who joined him onstage in an asymmetric dress with a daring slit up to the top of her thigh, "inspired the memo," referring to an advisory issued by CBS asking all performers and presenters to keep their breasts, buttocks and genitals covered.
VETERANS AND NEWCOMERS
The Grammys have a reputation for pairing up old-timers and newcomers, and this year had several collaborations.
Veteran Elton John took the stage with rising British star Ed Sheeran, 21, to sing a stripped down duet of "The A Team," Sheeran's song for which he's nominated in the Song of the Year category.
One of the night's leading nominees, New York indie-pop trio FUN., lived up to their name with a performance of "Carry On," while rain fell on stage, soaking the band as they played.
The band, which received six nominations, was the only act to be nominated in the top four categories of Album, Song and Record of the Year and Best New Artist.
Rockers The Black Keys, formed by Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, started the night strong, picking up two Grammys - Best Rock Album for "El Camino" and Best Rock Song for "Lonely Boy." Auerbach was also named the Producer of the Year in the non-classical category.
The band went into the night with five nominations, including top categories Album of the Year and Record of the Year.
British folk band Mumford & Sons went into Sunday's awards with a leading six nominations. They picked up one win for Best Long Form Music Video for "Big Easy Express," a collaboration with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Old Crow Medicine Show.
Australian singer Gotye, 32, picked up two Grammys for Best Alternative Album for "Making Mirrors" and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Somebody That I Used To Know" featuring Kimbra.
DJ Skrillex, 25, who won three Grammy awards last year, picked up three more, including Best Dance/Electronica Album for "Bangarang."
Jay-Z and Kanye West picked up two awards, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song for their collaboration "N****s in Paris." Jay-Z's wife, Beyonce, won Best Traditional R&B Performance for "Love on Top."
(Additional reporting by Nichola Groom and Sue Zeidler; Editing by Jill Serjeant, Peter Cooney and Stacey Joyce)