Rolling in the Grammys, Adele crowned as savior of music industry

Though the unexpected passing of former pop superstar Whitney Houston Saturday put a damper on Sunday night’s Grammy festivities, the evening still ended in what was nothing short of a crowning of Adele as the queen of 2011.

The British soul-sampling diva swept the major categories, including album of the year, record of the year, song of the year and best pop solo performance. She finished the evening with six awards. The night was even a coming out party for Adele’s producer, Paul Epworth, who got trophies for record of the year and producer of the year.

Arcade Fire notwithstanding, the Grammys are known for awarding records that sell over records with true artistic merit. But this year, the industry was able to have its cake and eat it too: Adele’s smash hit “21” sold millions more than anyone else, ending with 5.8 million albums sold and also topping year-end best lists.

The singer is cited with righting the wayward ship that is the music industry, which this year posted its first positive sales growth after a half decade of shrinking sales. Without such successes like “21” and “Rolling in the Deep”, which sold a year-high 5.8 million digital downloads, the industry may have faced yet another round of declining revenues.

So it makes sense for the Grammys to send a little sugar back Adele’s way. But album of the year? Sure, “21”’s songwriting is personal and straightforward, the production quality is superb, and its widespread appeal could not be denied. But play “21” and then play Grammy winner for best new artist, Bon Iver’s “Bon Iver”, and tell me which album as a whole is the better product.

Still, don’t expect to hear too much complaining from the peanut gallery this year. With Foo Fighters’ “Wasting Light” being the second most worthy album of the year nominee, Adele is the nominee with artist merit and the sales figures to match.

Being the crossover success that she is, giving Adele every major award was enough to appease the middle-aged crowd, the audience the Grammys always caters to. But the award ceremony didn’t neglect the young fans who were captivated by this year’s biggest growing genre: electronic dance music.

Dubstep darling Skrillex was the genre’s biggest winner tonight, taking home awards for best dance recording and best dance/electronica album. The ceremony also included a collaborative performance by David Guetta, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Deadmau5 and the Foo Fighters. Though not very inspired or interesting, the show deserves applause for acknowledging a genre as it breaks, rather than after the fact.

While Houston’s untimely death gave the awards a somber tone, the absence of one other, although, living star was puzzling. Kanye West sat out last year’s Grammys, allowing his public persona some much needed off time. But this was a major year for the rap superstar, who won four awards Sunday, including best rap album for 2010’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”

Maybe his self-induced hiatus from public life following a string of bad public relations incidents has entirely ended, but it isn’t like the Louis Vuitton Don to not grace such a large stage with his presence, especially knowing that he led all artists with seven nominations going into the night.

No disrespect to Adele, but if the recording industry wanted to place a crown on an artist who elevated the art form and the sales figures, well, they could of done worse than the guy who ornaments his outfits with Egyptian-inspired “gold pieces”:http://www.brokencool.com/.a/6a010536846743970c0153918881f9970b-800wi.

_Joe is a senior in Media._