gave West and Jay-Z three wins on the night after wins for best rap song and best rap performance for "... in Paris,'' another "Watch the Throne'' track.
Gotye and electronic dance music innovator Skrillex won three awards and a slew of artists sit one back, including top nominees Kanye West and Jay-Z, former best new artist winner Esperanza Spalding, jazz man Chick Corea and Christian singer-songwriter Matt Redman.
Other early winners included Rihanna, Beyonce, Britain's Mumford & Sons and Taylor Swift, who opened the show as the Mad Hatter. Swift dressed in white top hat, tails, shorts and tall boots during the surreal version of her hummable hit "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'' that included a troop of mime clowns and a guy on a tricycle with a flame-thrower attached.
The singer pretended to talk to the offending boyfriend on the phone: "I'm busy opening the Grammys and we're never getting back together.''
Justin Timberlake debuted new tracks "Suit & Tie'' with Jay-Z and "Pusher Love'' in a performance that was broadcast in retro black and white. Elton John and Ed Sheeran teamed on "The A Team'' and Miguel and Wiz Khalifa joined forces teamed up on "Adorn.'' Alicia Keys played drums during Maroon 5's "Daylight,'' before Adam Levine's band backed her on "Girl on Fire.''
Adele won the first award of the night on the main telecast, taking home best pop solo performance for "Set Fire to the Rain (Live),'' in one of the night's least-surprising moments - though the singer was somewhat taken aback.
"I just wanted to be part of the night, because I loved it last year, obviously,'' she said of winning a record-tying six awards in 2012.
Carrie Underwood won best country solo performance for "Blown Away'' and Kelly Clarkson turned in the night's most exuberant acceptance speech after winning best pop vocal album for "Stronger.'' After hugging much of the front row and momentarily getting stuck to Miranda Lambert's dress, Clarkson charged the stage with a giant smile.
"Miguel, I don't know who the hell you are, but we need to sing together,'' she said. "I mean, good God. That was the sexiest dancing I've ever seen.''
The Grammy pre-telecast awards show at the Nokia Theatre had 70 trophies up for grabs, including rock, pop, rap and country categories.
Skrillex won best dance recording for "Bangarang,'' featuring Sirah, best dance/electronica album for "Bangarang'' and best remixed recording a year after winning