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No one takes the awards part of the Grammys seriously. But, obligingly, everyone checks in to see if their favorite artist manages to reap Grammy gold. And on this Monday morning, we'd like to think there are a few otherwise skeptical indie music types who are pleasantly surprised that one of their own pulled off winning the Album of the Year award. For those who aren't basking in Arcade Fire's upset, there was plenty to talk about. Neil Young finally won an award (for something other than a box set). Someone named Esperanza Spalding stole Justin Bieber's prize. And, yes, Lady Gaga arrived in an egg.

Biggest Surprises

Album of the Year - Arcade Fire (The Suburbs)

Be honest. You thought the Fame Monster was going to win. Even though the entire Pitchfork-universe was pulling for an Arcade Fire upset, few believed that a Canadian band on an independent label would actually win the Grammy's biggest award of the evening. Sure, The Suburbs topped the charts when it was first released and received glowing reviews from every critic yearning for rock bands to achieve the "importance" that they once commanded. But this was the Grammys. And Lady Gaga arrived in an egg.

Watch a grateful Win Butler and his band head up for an encore performance of "Ready to Start" after grabbing the Grammy:

Best New Artist - Esperanza Spalding

Justin Bieber might be a little disappointed this morning. Not only did his first 3D film get edged out at the weekend box office by a generic Adam Sandler title, he lost a Grammy in a category where he was the consensus favorite. But that's not even the biggest shocker. That would be this: who is Esperanza Spalding? In a category that contained Florence + the Machine, Drake, and Mumford & Sons, along with Bieber, how did Spalding win the award? In her post-award interview, even she doesn't appear sure why she won:

Best Rock Album - Muse (The Resistance)

This shouldn't be surprising. Muse is one of the bigger modern-rock acts who released a decently-regarded blockbuster rock album this past year. But, as everyone knows, the Grammy voting membership loves giving awards to older artists releasing legacy albums (Herbie Hancock, Robert Plant, Ray Charles, anyone?). Taking that under consideration, the fact that Muse managed to win the award in a category that included Pearl Jam, Jeff Beck, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Neil Young, makes for a mini-coup.

Grammy Wins That Don't Appear Surprising, But Actually Are:

Paul McCartney Wins First Grammy in 31 Years - Even though it seems like Paul McCartney scoops up an award or two for something every year, this was actually his first win in three decades (h/t Paul Grein at Yahoo! Music) for a live rendition of "Helter Skelter."

Neil Young Wins a Grammy. Period.
- This is why the Grammys are widely-considered the oddest of the major award shows. They manage to deserving artists decades after they release their classic albums (and then in doing so, snub the work of younger artists and continue the cycle). Even though Neil Young has spent decades producing noteworthy music, his first Grammy win (that wasn't for a box set) arrived courtesy of the single "Angry World" from his new album "Le Noise."

Gwyneth Paltrow, Cee Lo and the Muppets Make For an Entertaining Collaboration

If there was a Grammy category for most unlikely collaboration on paper that mostly-worked in practice, this performance would win it:

Obligatory 'Look at What Gaga Did' Moment

Of course Lady Gaga was carried into the Grammys in a giant egg (photos) to perform her latest Madonna-esque single "Born this Way." Even if no one was surprised by Gaga's latest stunt, she's certainly won plaudits for her consistent commitment to doing something like this at every opportunity:

Confusing Grammy Win (i.e. Isn't That Song Years Old?)

Best Rap Song/Best Rap Collaboration - Empire State of Mind

Everyone loved it when Jay-Z and Alicia Keys took the field at the World Series to show their support for the hometown Yankees by belting out what has become the NYC's bonafide tourist anthem. But that was in 2009. Even though the Grammys have notoriously odd eligibility periods (for more, read here), Empire State of Mind's visibility underscores the confusing and unwieldy parts of the award show.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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